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On September 23, Native American Tribal members, including direct descendants of the Pomo peoples who once populated the Little Lake Valley where Caltrans is currently building an oversized freeway, joined environmental groups in a protest on the north end of the Willits Bypass highway project. Protestors entered the construction zone north of town in the early morning hours, stopping the fast and furious flow of dirt-filled, double-belly dump trucks that have been working from dawn to dusk to cover the wetlands and archeological sites the activists seek to protect.
Elders and spiritual leaders from local Pomo Indian Bands and the American Indian Movement (AIM) lead the way to threatened cultural sites where prayers were offered for the ancestors. The AIM flag and drum were present near the construction area where Native American cultural artifacts have been discovered. The sites have been documented and fenced off by Caltrans, but are still slated to be destroyed by being permanently graded and buried under the Bypass as currently designed.
“I hear and feel our ancestors cry to save our villages from destruction. The white man’s history repeats itself. We pray that the Creator will hear our prayers”, said Priscilla Hunter, tribal representative for the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians. “Caltrans placated the interests of local ranchers by giving them permanent grazing rights on the mitigation lands and built the viaduct over the railroad track to preserve it, but yet they don’t listen to the Indians’ concerns for protection of our ancestors’ culture or to our call for downsizing the northern interchange to avoid a large village site.”
Previous Related Indybay Features:
Destruction of Little Lake Valley Wetlands Finally Halted After Many Permit Violations
Earth Firster Occupies Wick Drain Stitcher to Save Little Lake Valley from Willits Bypass
Tree-Sitters Removed as Opposition to CalTrans Bypass Project Grows
April Negrette and Kimball Bighorse have filed tort claims against the City and County of San Francisco. The claims are the first step in suing the City and County for police brutality that occurred when the Giants called in SFPD to eject Negrette and Bighorse from its June 23, 2014, “Native American Heritage Night” event and game. SFPD officers threw Ms. Negrette to the ground by her hair, violently twisted her arms and kept her in an excruciating pain compliance hold for an extended period of time. When Mr. Bighorse video-recorded this with his smart phone, SFPD officers also subjected him to excessive force and an invasive search, accused both of being drunk (neither had had any alcohol), and detained them until the end of the game.
Ms. Negrette and Mr. Bighorse, who did not know each other before that night, had peacefully confronted a group of inebriated men who were inappropriately and disrespectfully wearing a plastic counterfeit Native American-themed headdress, explaining that what they were doing was offensive and wrong. The group gave the offending headdress to Ms. Negrette. The Giants then ordered the San Francisco Police to eject Negrette, who is Shoshone and Paiute, and Bighorse, who is Cayuga, Navajo, and Seneca – but not the drunken men, most of whom were white – from the stadium. The police then returned the headdress to the group, who returned to wearing the imitation headdress and enjoying the rest of the game undisturbed.
Read More with Video
Following months of pressure by family members and the media, the Salinas Police Department announced that Brian Johnson and Scott Sutton were the officers that shot and killed Frank Alvarado on July 10. They were named in a press release that also listed the officers involved in the killing of three other Latino residents in East Salinas in 2014. Frank Alvarado's father and sister spoke out at a press conference held at City Hall on October 1, stating that justice would be served, if not in Salinas, then at the Supreme Court.
On October 9th, Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin is scheduled to speak on a panel titled “Police Legitimacy in Communities of Color” presented by the Center for Conflict Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Under Chief McMillin’s command, four unarmed Salinas community members — all Latino men — were shot and killed by officers
in a span of four months. Between March and July of 2014, Salinas police officers shot and murdered Angel Ruiz, Carlos Mejia
, Osman Hernandez, and Frank Alvarado
, a community-based group out of Santa Cruz that works to eradicate the prison industrial-complex, authored a letter to the hosts of the event requesting that they ask Chief McMillin to step down as a participant.
In the letter, Sin Barras writes, "We believe it is unethical and disrespectful to give Chief McMillin such a privileged voice in a space that is uncritical of his department’s policies and the violence he has continually justified. None of the community activists, family and friends of the murdered men were invited to present on the panel and likely view the space as hostile — given that they would have had to sit across from the person ultimately responsible for these deaths."
Full Letter | See Also: Frank Alvarado Sr. Speaks Out Against Salinas Police | October 22 in Salinas: National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality
Previous Coverage: Protesters Confront Salinas Police Chief at Bookstore Appearance in Santa Cruz
|| Rally in Salinas Demands Justice for Frank Alvarado, Killed by Salinas Police
|| Police Officers Kill Fourth Person in East Salinas: Frank Alvarado
|| Families, Residents and Statewide Supporters Fight for Justice in Salinas
|| Salinas Police Kill Three People in Last Three Months
After a lively debate, Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom (HUFF) voted to endorse a "mellow" but visible presence on the corner of Laurel and Center Streets in front of the Santa Cruz Police Department parking lot. Since 2013, HUFF has received complaints about officer Barnett of the SCPD targeting homeless residents for minor offenses, and the organization pressed the department to release the citations he has issued.
On September 9, the family of Yanira Serrano Garcia announced they filed a civil rights lawsuit against San Mateo County and San Mateo Sheriff's Deputy Menh Trieu in Federal District Court in San Francisco for the June 3 killing of Yanira at her home in Half Moon Bay. On August 18, San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen M. Wagstaffe announced charges would not be filed against Deputy Trieu for the killing.
Israel's Ministry of Justice has filed an indictment against a border policeman for assaulting and injuring 15-year-old Tarek Abu Khdeir, cousin to Muhammad Abu Khdeir, who was burned to death by Israeli settlers, in July. According to reports, the officer, whose name remains under gag order, was indicted at the Jerusalem magistrate court on September 10, for using "excessive force" that could not be justified.
To send a strong message that "killer cops" are not welcome in Santa Cruz, community members gathered on August 26 to protest a speaking engagement at Bookshop Santa Cruz featuring Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin. "We are creating a public presence to say loud and clear that the Salinas police chief who oversaw the killings of four Latino men in four months is not welcome in our community," read a flyer provided by Sin Barras, the Santa Cruz-based organization that called for the demonstration.
Yannidies Brown writes:
Today, August 21, 2014, I, Yannidies Brown, have just not only witnessed, but experienced, police brutality. It started roughly at about nine o'clock in the morning when my brother Rogiers Brown, my fiance Christopher Wuerfel, and I were at an empty parking lot waiting on a ride. An SCPD officer, Bradly Barnett, approached my brother Rogiers telling him that he needs to "get the fuck out of the parking lot" and "I'm going to write you a ticket."
On August 17, the Direct Action Monterey Network joined a group of residents in Salinas at a demonstration against police violence. Four unarmed Latino men have been killed by Salinas police since March. Although the event was intended to be a community forum, the Cesar Chavez Public Library refused to let the group use their facilities. The gathering was interrupted when someone came over to tell the group that a man was being arrested across the street, but cops were prevented from arresting him by the newly formed local Cop Watch.
Rallies and marches in solidarity with the people of Ferguson, Mo. were held across the world following the events of August 9 when Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in broad daylight in front of numerous witnesses. Michael was reportedly unarmed and holding his hands up while attempting to surrender when he was gunned down. Protests in the Bay Area were held in San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Cruz.
WeCopwatch is reporting for Indybay from Ferguson, Missouri, where on August 9 a Ferguson police officer shot down and murdered 18-year-old local resident Michael Brown in broad daylight in front of numerous witnesses. After days of protests and violent racist attacks by police against demonstrators, the focus has shifted to the police cover-up of the murder. After previously refusing to release the incident report on the shooting and the name of the shooting officer, Ferguson police have finally released his name, Darren Williams, but instead of releasing their report on the shooting, they ramped up a smear campaign against Mike Brown and released a different police report that claims Mike Brown shoplifted from a local convenience store shortly before he was killed. Police also have claimed that Mike Brown reached into Darren Williams’ patrol car and tried to grab the officers’s gun. Multiple witnesses, however, contradict this police story.
At least three non-police witnesses have come forward to tell virtually the same version of events, that officer Darren Williams pulled up to and harassed Mike Brown as he walked in the street, reaching out of the patrol car window to grab Mike Brown and then shooting Mike Brown once from within the car. As Mike Brown and a friend ran away, Darren Williams jumped out of his car and proceeded to shoot Mike Brown in the back. When Mike Brown turned around to face the officer with his hands in the air, Darren Williams continued to shoot repeatedly until Mike Brown lay dying in the street. No medical services were rendered to Mike Brown until at least thirty minutes after the shooting, by which time it was too late to save him, and police let his body lay in the street for hours.
In a town that is 67% African American, and constantly the subject of racist police stops and citations by a Ferguson police department made of up 53 officers, of whom only three are African American, the community is outraged by the murder.
Updates from Ferguson:
NLG Legal Observer Arrested While Documenting Ongoing Police Violence in Ferguson
Is This What A Jammed Phone Sounds Like? (Kill Switch in Ferguson?)
Donate to Get Copwatch Cameras for Ferguson - more cameras are needed to document police
Who Are The Real Outside Agitators in Ferguson?
ACLU Asks Col Replogle to Remove Inappropriate Officer in Ferguson
What a stupid excuse for arresting reporters
Photos From Ferguson
(Aug 18) |
NLG Strongly Objects to Oppressive and Discriminatory Law Enforcement Tactics in Ferguson
Amnesty International USA Calls for Investigation of Police Tactics in Ferguson
Police Gas Residents of Ferguson For Over an Hour
(Aug 17) |
Ferguson: State Of Emergency! Demonstrators Shot and Gassed!
(Aug 16) |
Photos From Ferguson
(Aug 16) |
Ferguson: New Police Practices are Window Dressing To a Systemic Failure
(Aug 15) |
Images From Ferguson
(Aug 15) |
Ferguson Police's PR Stunt Poisons Independent and Impartial Investigation
WeCopwatch live reports from Ferguson, Missouri
(Aug 15) |
Amnesty International Sends Human Rights Delegation to Ferguson, Missouri
Police in Ferguson to the Media: "We Don't Want You Here"
Latino activists in solidarity with Palestinians marched down Market Street in San Francisco on August 2 in a unity call for saving the children of Central America who are languishing at the US-Mexican border, as well as the children dying in Gaza. Movimiento por la Reunifacacion Familiar organizers reached out to everyone to join together in a march chanting, “No mas ninos deportados nuestros ninos son sagrados!” “No more children deported; our children are sacred.”
In response to the decision from Sonoma County district attorney Jill Ravitch's decision not to prosecute Erick Gelhaus, the Sheriff's Deputy that killed 13-year-old Andy Lopez, protesters assembled in Santa Rosa on July 12 and marched through the downtown streets. After the official march was declared to be over, many continued to march in an act of civil disobedience towards Highway 101, where they blocked an off-ramp and all three northbound lanes of traffic.
In response to the killing of Frank Alvarado, the Direct Action Monterey Network called for a rally on July 12 in East Salinas against police violence. Frank's sister Angélica Garza spoke, saying she wanted justice for "Frankie" and "he had a big heart." For the duration of the rally, Frank's niece held a sign that read "Stop Police Brutality. Justice For My Uncle!"