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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: San Francisco | Health, Housing, and Public Services | Police State and Prisons
The murder of Marcus Law, 17, rocks Hunters Point
Candlelight vigil Friday 8pm
Monday, six perfunctory lines from Chronicle staff writer Tanya Schevitz read:
“’Police responding to a call of a shooting at 7:15 p.m. found the second victim, a 17-year-old male who had been shot in the chest, sitting in a vehicle at West Point Road and Middle Point Road in the Bayview District,’ Oropeza said. He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Police do not have any suspects. ‘It is just an unfortunate situation. Today’s victims were young,’ Oropeza said. She refused to identify either victim.”
Another young blood bites the dust – anonymously – and it’s “just an unfortunate situation”?
Rev. Jeff Branner, chair of the African American Community Police Relations Board, South East Branch, came by my home, recounting the shooting of yet another youngster “up on the hill.” He was going to comfort the surviving family and community members at the scene. This, less than a week after the shocking shooting death of his own cousin, 22-year-old Donte Marques White, at Ella Hill Hutch Community Center last Thursday.
Then I received a call from Mary Ratcliff at the Bay View: “I just can’t get over what happened to Marcus.” And the horror unfolds.
The 17-year-old shooting victim was Marcus Law, a Black youth who was the topic of many articles in the Bay View and Indybay three years ago, following his brutal assault by SFPD from the Bayview precinct, at the very same corner where he was found dead.
Shortly after Officer Stephen Benzinger assaulted young Marcus for watching Officers Matthew Mason and Stephen Jonas brutalize his neighbor, Lee “Baby Finsta” Collins, on Aug. 25, 2003, the Idriss Stelley Foundation and the Bay View hosted a press conference at the Green House on Third and Palou, attended by Chief Fong, Commander Greg Suhr and former Bayview KKKaptain Pucinelli, followed by a rally, protest and march, “Shape Up or Ship Out SFPD,” from Middle Point and West Point Road to the Bayview Opera House.
I remember watching Monica Autry, who has since become a leader of the Hunters View Tenant Association, accompanied by her child Marcus, an honor student who just had won a full college scholarship and had never been in trouble with the law, close to tears at the Police Commission in September 2003, when Connie Perry, then president of the commission, peremptorily announced that the matter would not be heard since “You do not seem to be aware of due process: It is now being investigated by the Office of Citizen Complaints. It’s out of the commission’s jurisdiction until the release of OCC’s findings.”
Young Marcus’ terrible fate is too reminiscent of other children set up for lethal demise in Hunters Point. The similarities are more than coincidence:
Tyrelle Taylor, at age 14, was brutalized by Bayview officers on MLK Day four years ago. He became a key witness in a case two of his friends filed against officers involved in the assault. And as the court date rolled around, he took four bullets in the back from Bayview police in September 2005, when he had just turned 18.
Marcus Law, brutalized at age 14 while watching the brutal arrest of a neighbor, filed suit against police for misconduct. His mother was quoted by the Chronicle on Feb. 7, 2006, in the special report, “The use of force,” saying, “I am going to do everything to see these officers are held accountable.” The Chronicle noted that the lawsuit “is still pending.” Now Marcus has been murdered at age 17.
In both cases, according to many eye-witnesses, the 14-year-old boys had done nothing whatsoever to provoke the police. Both were outstanding students.
In January of this year, police had warned Marcus’ mother that he was a target, when he was one of five youngsters shot by “unknown assailants.” In a Tuesday article, Jaxon Van Derbeken of the Chronicle wrote that according to the police, in regard to Marcus’ second shooting just last month, “Law said he had been working on rap music with friends outside a unit at Hunters View when some men from the East Bay showed up and opened fire.”
I wonder how the police knew the shooters were “from the East Bay.” Did they wear Raiders jerseys and introduce themselves before they opened fire? Another question is, do they make it a habit to warn the parents of every Bayview Hunters Point shooting victim to get out of the neighborhood, or just those who’ve they’ve beaten?
Thugs in blue manage the mayhem of our Black children killing each other. They provide the drugs and AK47s. They blame Black youngsters and their families for their own deaths. Meanwhile, 12 Bayview residents are currently in prison waiting to become “death eligible” under federal law. There are many facets of genocide. Six lines under “Crime Watch” or “Casualties” in the corporate press means a lifetime of sorrow for surviving families.
Sweet, beautiful Marcus was robbed of a bright future, a peaceful journey on his path to freedom, the freedom that was rightfully his under our somber skies of Bayview. In an interview with JR in the Sept. 10, 2003, Bay View, Monica said: “We’re still not free. They’re still trying to oppress us and keep us down, and I’m not letting it happen. I’m not. My son is already a Black man. I’m trying to keep him on the right track. My son goes to school everyday. The boy is a good boy.”
The best weather in San Francisco is tempting white folks to come in and steal our hood, police to come into our homes and drop guns in our backyards, the government to pour drugs into our community, snatch away our schools, keep us from jobs, block us from business opportunities. And it’s all the cause of us burying our babies.
Where do you turn when the storm of this Black and Brown war at home is camouflaged by the sunlight that bathes our streets, and murder in broad daylight has the same chance of being solved as those done in the dark – even with cameras posted at every street corner? Why were the police, who are parked at West Point and Middle Point Road EVERY DAY not parked there on Sunday? Where is the justice?
Marcus’ mother, Monica, I have been told, is not available for comment. Who would be in these horrible circumstances? Our hearts go out to you, sister. No words could possibly soothe the pain. But please know that we are here for you.
The Idriss Stelley Foundation will be hosting a press conference regarding the recent murders in Visitacion Valley, Excelsior, Fillmore and Bayview Hunters Point. It is time to hold City government accountable for their ineffective response to this crisis.
As for the residents of Bayview Hunters Point, how many more of our sons will we sacrifice before we stand? The demands made by young people during the 1966 uprising were for good jobs, decent, affordable housing and an end to police brutality. We make the same demands today.
We need a Bayview Guardian Angels contingent and Bayview Copwatching. We need fathers and sons, mothers and daughters to come forth in an effort to save their own lives and the lives of our children. We are the victims and the suspects; we are all at risk.
ISF will provide the technology, we will facilitate the meetings, we will provide the counseling, but we cannot do it alone. It’s time to stop the excuses and start the healing. It’s time, Bayview, it’s time.
If you would like to volunteer to help save this community, email mesha at iolmisha [at] cs.com or call the Idriss Stelley Foundation’s 24-Hour Crisis Line at (415) 595-8251. To read more about Monica and Marcus, including his own words, go to http://www.sfbayview.com/090303/hellonthehill090303.shtml, http://www.sfbayview.com/091003/occupyingarmy091003.shtml and http://www.sfbayview.com/120705/truecolors.shtml.