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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!"
An energetic life celebration and march through Santa Rosa was held on June 7 for Andy Lopez, who would have celebrated his 14th birthday earlier in the week if he had not been shot and killed by Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy Erick Gelhaus on October 22. Young people were abundant at the birthday celebration. Some who appeared to be not much more than elementary school age could be seen helping organize the proceedings, with many guardians simply watching and playing more of a background role.
A large and militant protest was held in Fresno on June 16 after a young man was shot 17 times by two Fresno Police officers on June 11. 100 people protesting the shooting held a rally, attempted to see mayor Ashley Swearengin, and then marched to police headquarters. It was a spirited event, which included several of the family members of the man who was shot 17 times. The protesters demanded changes at the Fresno Police Department (FPD) that would lead to fewer officer involved shootings (OIS).
On June 18, Tony Serrano stood before the Half Moon Bay City Council to demand justice for his sister, Yanira Serrano Garcia. Yanira was killed by San Mateo County Sheriff's deputy Menh Trieu on June 3 when she was having a health crisis outside of her home at the Moonridge housing complex. The Serrano family and their supporters are asking the Half Moon Bay City Council to support a number of resolutions, including one that calls for a transparent criminal investigation into the killing of the 18-year-old.
Following the release in May of the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury report on jail medical care and conditions, one juror reported he was “shocked” at the lax oversight and poor communication between jail staff and medical personnel that led to five deaths in the facility during the past 11 months. While the "normal" mortality rate is around 125 per 100,000 inmates, Santa Cruz County's rate was 10 times that number during that period.
Simba Kenyatta writes:
As a former city council candidate and as a poor, African American, my view of campaign finance reform is markedly different than what I hear is going to be proposed. I think that there should be no private money in public elections, at all. The city needs to come up with a way to finance our elections so that every candidate starts out with the same amount of money, and no more. Of course, the first reaction will be, we can't afford that, and our budget won't allow it. Well, I think we can't afford not to. Middle class people tend to have middle class friends, poor people tend to have poor friends, and there, is where the problem lies.
Following the SPD killing of Carlos Mejia on May 20, residents have struggled against the powers that be in Salinas. On May 25, local politicians and non-profit groups worked to quiet anti-police sentiment at the large march and statewide mobilization against police brutality held in East Salinas. On May 27, the family of Mejia filed a wrongful death legal claim against the City of Salinas, and a May 31 counter-protest was held at a pro-police rally organized by retired SPD officers and law enforcement families.
Recently, students at UC Santa Cruz reported to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that two incidents of "serious racial bullying" had occurred on the university's campus. In response, the Santa Cruz Branch of the NAACP together with the UCSC Women's Center organized a "March and Prayer Vigil to Stop Hate Crimes and Racial Bullying in Our Community" on May 29. Community members, including students from UCSC, marched down Pacific Avenue and to the Town Clock where songs were sung and a prayer vigil was held.
Presently, the victims of the racial bullying wish to remain anonymous but Deborah Hill-Alston, the President of the Santa Cruz Branch of the NAACP, said the university is investigating the incidents and she is confident they will handle the matter properly. Hill-Alston did not want to go into the specifics, but she did say that the incidents were ongoing and had occurred recently. The incidents involved the use of improper language and threats which were made on campus to more than one student. According to the NAACP, incidents of racial misconduct are "constantly" taking place in the wider community as well as at local schools, from kindergarten to the university. "I want my kids to be educated in a safe environment," Hill-Alston told the group at the Town Clock.
"We need to hold our institutions accountable for setting systems in place that will change behavior, re-educate their members, and protect young people from the life-long scars of hate and prejudice. Please help us to focus on racism in our community and find peaceful solutions for the future," an announcement for the vigil stated.
Read More with Photos and Video
On May 20, officers with the Salinas Police Department shot and killed Carlos Mejia outside of a bakery at the corner of Del Monte and Sanborn. They said he posed a threat because he was carrying garden shears. The killing was preceded by the SPD killing of Osman Hernandez at Mi Pueblo Market on May 9, and Angel Ruiz on March 20. Angel was shot by three Salinas Police Officers simultaneously in a Wing Stop parking lot. A video of the Carlos Mejia killing went viral, and on May 21 hundreds of people took to the streets of Salinas in response.
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio visited Mountain View, CA on May 6 to speak to an ultra-conservative group. At one point Arpaio approached protesters, some of whom said to him, "we don't want your hate here." Street theater demonstrators impersonated the sheriff and ICE federal agents in a skit near the entrance to the hall where the sheriff spoke.
Terri Kay of Workers World writes:
The Bay Area Rapid Transit police have achieved notoriety once again, this time with the brutalization of Nubia Bowe, a diminutive 19-year-old Black woman. The brutality continued at the hands of Alameda County sheriff deputies once Bowe arrived at the Santa Rita, Calif., jail. Workers World interviewed Bowe and her godmother, Carroll Fife, about Bowe’s ordeal at the hands of police.
Workers World: What happened the night you got arrested?
Nubia Bowe: After work at Job Corps, I was coming home on March 21.... We were stopped at Lake Merritt BART by three BART police saying we had to step off the train. They said we were dancing on BART, soliciting money and causing a disturbance. Several people approached the cops saying we didn’t do anything and why did we need to get off the train.... I was pulled off the train by a different officer. He slammed me against the wall, busting my lip, and then he slammed me on the ground. I was taken to the Lake Merritt [holding cell] waiting to be transferred and held there about three hours, separated from my friends. [Then] I was taken to Santa Rita jail.... They started beating me up — all four of the cops, while I was on the ground. They put me in arm locks, joint locks, stepped on my feet and my face.
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Petition to Drop the Charges
On the morning of April 22, dozens of Andy’s Youth gathered in front of Cook Middle School in Santa Rosa to commemorate the six-month anniversary of the murder of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by Sonoma County Deputy Sheriff Erick Gelhaus. The students held up signs in front of the school demanding that Gelhaus be indicted and that the Cook Principal and teachers cease making demeaning and disparaging comments about Andy.
A community barbeque and speak-out was held on April 12 in Stockton, organized by the Inter Council for Mothers of Murdered Children. Dionne Smith and Carey Downs led the speakout, providing updates on their struggle for justice in the Stockton police killing of their son, James Rivera Jr. Other families came to talk about their children who have been killed by the Stockton police.
Laurie Valdez writes:
My name is Laurie Valdez. On February 21, 2014, my partner Antonio Guzman Lopez was murdered at the hands of San Jose State University Police Department Sgt. Mike Santos, who claims he did it in defense of fellow UPD officer Frits Van der Hoek. The incident happened right by a childcare center and in front of a sorority house. Clearly Santos had no concern for the safety of others or the fellow officer who, according to Santos, was standing right in front of Antonio, thus placing him in the line of fire.
On March 21, 28-year-old Alejandro Nieto was in Bernal Hill Park, before leaving for his night job as a security guard. The job required that Nieto carry a Taser. A jogger who reportedly called the police told 911, “A Latin male in a bright red jacket is pacing near a fence.” When police arrived, they shot Nieto 14 times. After an FTP march that night in SF, a vigil with family and friends on March 24, and an SFPD town hall on March 26, hundreds of people marched to the top of Bernal Hill on March 29 to protest the murder by police of CCSF student Alejandro Nieto.