On October 22nd, one week hence, supporters and members of some 50 families of those executed by California police will converge on Sacramento in a National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation.
They will demand an end to police violence. From California Attorney General Kamala Harris. They will demand proper investigations into their loved ones’ deaths – not the whitewashes that are typically performed by police investigating themselves and the tragic farce that is District Attorneys refusing to investigate the police.
The event is being organized across multiple channels, including families of victims, The Stop Mass Incarceration Network, and the above call put out by Anonymous. One of the key organizing groups is the Duenez family and supporters. Ernesto Duenez Jr. was gunned down on June 8th, 2011, in Manteca, CA in what any sane person watching the video – possibly excluding the county District Attorney, who may or may not be sane – would have to call an execution.
Time and again, even after videos like this emerge, internalized police investigations of their fellow officers find “justifiable use of force.” District Attorneys, often relying solely on these internal police investigations, refuse to prosecute. John Moody, who killed Duenez, was cleared of the shooting of Ernesto Duenez Jr. on December 13th, 2012 by the county District Attorney, just a day before the police video of the incident was released to the public.
Occasionally – very occasionally – police are prosecuted, as in the case of Oscar Grant being killed by Johnanes Meserle in Oakland, CA on January 1st, 2009. There, video escaped the grasp of BART police (who tried to confiscate anything and everything in sight), went viral and generated such outrage and massive protests that the Alameda County District Attorney was forced to prosecute.
As was demonstrated with the case of Ernesto Duenez Jr., a horrendous video isn’t necessarily enough. And in most cases men die without any video recording, as was the case with Alan Blueford in Oakland. Many times the shooting occurs without a witness other than another officer. Even if the dead man was provably unarmed the simple statement that an officer felt like his life was in danger – with no corroboration or evidence – is enough.
And so, with essentially no check, police murders and assaults continue; the ranks of those killed are added to in the United States at an unparalleled pace.
In Bakersfield, CA, 33-year old David Silva was hogtied and savagely beaten to death by law enforcement officers, who had found him passed out on a street. The vicious killing of 30-year old Melissa Williams and 40-year old Timothy Russell, shot down in a hail of 137 bullets by Cleveland police, has been described as a modern-day lynching. As of yet, the thirteen officers are still on the job.
In an assisted living home in Chicago, 95-year old John Wrana was killed by police after being tasered and shot with a bean bag round. Witnesses say that Miami Beach police high-fived each other after tasering to death 18-year old graffiti artist Israel Hernandez-Llach. Police around the country continue to kill young Black men with impunity, such as 25-year old Cary Ball, Jr., killed in a hail of 25 bullets by St. Louis, MO police, and 16-year old Kimani Gray, shot seven times by NYPD, three times in the back.
In Dallas, TX, the last time a killer cop was indicted was in 1973. Dallas police have killed 250 since, with 68 Black men killed since 2001. Over and over, we hear the justifications for police brutality and killing. The reason Miami-Dade police gave for restraining and choking 14-year old Tremaine McMillian, that he gave “dehumanizing stares,” shows just how much law enforcement expects impunity.
The only way to stop the madness is to come together and join the in fight. To say, collectively, in the immortal words of Jeralyn Blueford heard in the first video:
Fuck that! No more killing!
Take investigations of police violence out of the hands of the very same organizations who inflict it by demanding independent investigators. Demand independent prosecutors – not those who are dependent on police for the success of their other prosecutions. Demilitarize the police. If you train people to believe they are in a war zone they will act as if they are in a war zone. Fire those officers with demonstrably violent or racist behavior. Stop making them the line of first “defense” when someone who is mentally ill is acting out.
If you are in California come to Sacramento on October 22nd, or in you can’t come or are elsewhere find an event in your area.
If you are in the Bay Area, get a ride from Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland. Bus tickets available here.