FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
10 April 2012
Contact: Lesley Phillips 510-508-1101
10 April 2012. Stockton, CA. The family of a young black man brutally killed by Stockton police, will be joined by the Oscar Grant Committee and Occupy Oakland for a protest to demand justice for James Rivera.
On Tuesday, surviving family members, the Oscar Grant Committee, Occupy Oakland, and the Stockton community will rally and march for James Rivera, Jr., a 17-yr-old boy who was brutally murdered by Stockton police in July 2010.
Rivera’s parents say the officers were looking for another young man named James accused of robbery, and mistook their son for their suspect. James Rivera, they clarify, was unarmed at the time of his death. Though the teenager was murdered two years ago, Rivera’s parents haven’t received a coroner’s or a police report, despite persistent requests. Carey Down Jr., Rivera’s step-father said the police wouldn’t give them an explanation for withholding the records. Rivera’s body was crushed in a deliberate car accident before being riddled with 15 rounds (out of 48 shot) by the 9mm semi-automatic and assault rifle of Stockton officers Gregory Dunn and Eric Azarvand, and the San Joaquin sheriff over two years ago, Witnesses to the chase and murder say they’ve been pressured by the police to keep quiet. One neighbor was reportedly arrested.
While national attention focuses on independent citizen-actors like George Zimmerman, murders-by-police of unarmed young black men often go unpunished, poorly investigated, and under-reported. Since the beginning of the year, 28 young black men and one young black woman have been killed by police officers. At least 19 of them were unarmed. Many of the others were allegedly armed, but some reports conflict. One was an innocent bystander. Like these victims, Rivera’s death disappeared from local headlines as quickly as it appeared. Meanwhile, his parents and his community still seek answers and would like to see an investigation into the incident.
“We want to seek justice and talk about other community issues around police conduct,” said Downs. Downs and James’ mother, Dion Smith, visited a recent Occupy Oakland barbeque where they shared their story and asked for the movement’s support. Downs said he appreciates solidarity from Occupy, “[They] shut down the port,” said Downs. “We’re strong with unity and Occupy shows people they can come together and have a voice. We need that spark in Stockton. We need people to see that they can take to the streets.”
Lesley Phillips of Oakland’s Oscar Grant Committee said, “We feel that this murder is a blatant police execution of a black teenager who was racially profiled and violently murdered for no reason. The family has been mistreated by the Stockton justice system. We’re outraged; this family is owed the dignity and respect due grieving parents in the face of the loss of their child.”
Rivera’s parents are calling on all citizens concerned with the alarming epidemic of murders-by-police, to come out for a rally, free lunch, and march to demand justice. The rally will convene at 2:00 at the Stockton Courthouse at 222 E. Webster St. After the rally, a free lunch will be provided before the 4-6:00 protest marches to the Stockton City Hall. Buses will leave from Oakland’s Oscar Grant Plaza at 11:30 and will bring protesters back in the early evening.