Slam Poetry and Stories Shine at New Mexico Internet Hearing

Last night, more than 400 people attended a hearing on the Future of the Internet in Albuquerque to share their stories about living without broadband, as well as their concerns about losing free speech online, with Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps.

A diverse group of speakers kicked off the evening to speak passionately and forcefully about the need for an open and accessible Internet for everyone -- including Geoffrey Blackwell, the FCC's chief of the Office of Native Affairs and Policy, Native Public Media's Loris Ann Taylor and Andrea Quijada of the Media Literacy Project.

Loris Ann Taylor of Native Public Media.

In a state like New Mexico, which ranks 47th in broadband access and where only 10% of Native Americans have high-speed Internet connections, the message resonated.

The solution? Get the FCC to restore its authority over broadband, pass strong Net Neutrality rules, and move forward with the National Broadband Plan.

"Our job now," Copps said, "is to correct course by reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service, and call an apple an apple, and then craft rules and procedures that will protect consumers against discrimination, protect against a privatized Internet, and protect against the cannibalization, cable-ization and further consolidation of broadband technology."

After an hour of powerful speeches from local leaders and Washington officials, it was time for public testimony from dozens of New Mexicans — and slam poetry.

"If you saw my Comcast bill you'd see, it's as reasonable as a robbery," poet Hakim Bellamy said to cheers.

The hearing included a broad range of testimonials, delivered by people of all ages from across New Mexico's diverse communities. Together, this group conveyed one powerful message: We need an open, accessible Internet now.

Dozens of New Mexicans delivered public testimony.

Testimonials included stories of elementary school children and high schoolers who depend on Internet access to keep up. "To me, a free and open internet means I wouldn't have to drive to my sister's house when I need to do homework,” said Mayte Lopez, a high school senior in Albuquerque. "It means fewer bumps in the road when it comes to school. It means I would be able to do my homework at home instead of trying to figure out how to turn in an assignment or communicate with my classmates on top of getting ready to graduate and apply for college."

Click here for more photos of the event.

Meanwhile, dozens who couldn't attend the event followed the action online, via a live video stream and a public chat where people from around the country added to the discussion.

The testimony -- in all its forms -- produced a resounding, unified message for the FCC: It's time to take action to protect Net Neutrality, the longstanding principle that prevents Internet service providers from interfering with online content and applications, and to ensure that all people have access to the open Internet.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good