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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: South Bay | Police State and Prisons
San Jose Police Attack Copwatchers at Cinco de Mayo Celebration; Charge "Lynching"
San Jose Police attacked and arrested six people Friday night in an attempt to shut down the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration at a shopping center at Story and King in San Jose. Copwatcher is accused of "lynching".
Friday night we copwatched Cinco De Mayo in San Jose. We began at Story and King which hosts a 30-year tradition of youth cruising and celebrating, and apparently also of cops beating and arresting.
We had with us veteran Bay Area copwatchers who had also helped train us in the weeks leading up to May 5, at least one of whom had experience with the Denver Cinco De Mayo copwatch which was massively successful in reducing arrests and violence.
Police amassed between 9pm and 10pm and suddenly closed the intersection and lined King Road in front of us with riot cops in FULL RIOT gear. Things were very mellow with a small crowd of about 100-200 people, about half of whom were leaving after the intersection closed, the other half staying. Copwatchers had divided into three groups to cover three different areas, and so I and my group decided to leave for our area downtown, thinking that everything was under control at Story and King...
When we arrived downtown we learned that those riot police had chased the crowd and six copwatchers had been arrested. Later we learned by watching video that they had been BEATEN. It happened within minutes after we left.
We copwatched downtown until around 4am. That's another story.
One of the copwatchers arrested at Story and King is being charged with 3 misdemeanors and one felony - "lynching" - for putting himself between batons and two women. This is the fulfillment of the threat articulated by Laurie Smith of the Santa Clara County Sheriff's department to the public at a county Human Relations Committee meeting last January on the subject of police brutality. During the meeting, Smith not only defended the beating and arresting of protesters and bystanders at a Colin Powell visit to De Anza College in November, but she added that anyone getting in the way of a sheriff's weapons should be considered a "lynch mob" which carries severe penalties.
It appears to all that we are dealing with one of the most oppressive police organizations in the country. I'm proud to say that we stood by our Mexican brothers and sisters on Cinco de Mayo here in San Jose to try to protect them from police brutality, and I am ashamed of my city and county for calling that "lynching".
The city of San Jose and the county of Santa Clara cannot sit on their hands and twiddle their thumbs anymore! The first step is to admit that there is a problem.