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Across the Valley People Take the Streets Against Police Brutality and Prison
Report back from Caravan of Resistance.
On Saturday, October 22nd, over a hundred people from across the Central Valley participated in the 'Caravan of Resistance' against police brutality both inside local jails and on the streets. Participants from Modesto, Stockton, Manteca, Davis, Sacramento, and Merced all converged to participate in a string of actions in a total of three cities. At around 11 AM, people first started rallying and marching around the Stockton Police Department. SPD was one of the law enforcement agencies that shot and killed James Rivera in 2010, after a high speed chase that caused James to crash into a residential neighborhood. Over 50 people marched around the building, chanting, "No Justice, No Peace!" Next, the Caravan traveled to Manteca, about 20 minutes away, to rally outside of the Manteca Police Department, which in 2011, was responsible for killing Ernest Duenez, who like Rivera, was unarmed.
Next the group headed to Modesto, where they rallied outside of the Stanislaus County Men's Jail. Banners read: "Day of Action Against Police Brutality," "Fire to the Prisons, Revolt on the Inside, Revolt on the Outside!," "Police, The Real Home Grown Terrorists," "We Didn't Cross the Borders, They Crossed Us!," and "Puppets of the Rich, If You'z a Cop, If You'z a Snitch!" Protesters also held signs reading, "Revolt!," "Solidarity with the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike," and "Fight for Rita Elias!" Rita Elias was shot to death by an off-duty Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department officer in September of 2010. The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department also runs the Downtown jail, a facility in which 6 people have died within the last year and a half. While outside protesters chanted, "Revolt on the Inside, Revolt on the Outside," and "Cops, Pigs, Murderers," prisoners banged against the glass inside of the jail. Many people are also angry over the recent talk by head Sheriff Adam Christianson, who would like to rent out empty beds in the county jail to the federal government in order to house those suspected of being undocumented immigrants. Many carried signs against the border patrol and chanted, "Pueblo Si! Migra no!"
Marching towards West-Side Modesto, people took to the street, chanting, "Who's Streets? Our Streets!" A CHP officer followed behind the march and told the crowd to get out of the street and onto the sidewalk, but after it became apparent that no one would comply, he left the scene. While marching, passersby were handed fliers about the ongoing hunger strike in Pelican Bay Prison as well as a time-line of Police Repression in the Central Valley. Upon reaching the park, members of different families affected by police violence talked about their struggles, and several speakers discussed the need to organize against police, attacks on migrant workers, and the overall assault on poor, working, and oppressed people.
The Caravan brought together over a hundred people: blacks, Chicanos, and working class whites joined with victims' families to protest murder and brutality at the hands of the police. We feel that this is important, as it shows that people throughout the Central Valley are coming together not only to support each other emotionally, but to reinforce their common struggles. Furthermore, we feel that we gained confidence by taking over the streets, and holding it in spite of orders from the police to return to the sidewalk.
Protests and demonstrations in the Central Valley are often contained to sidewalks, college campuses, public plazas, and other "free speech zones." We are scared to step out of line, we are scared to challenge the police, we are scared to fight back. We are afraid of being brutalized by the police. When we gather in large numbers, it is important to realize that we have the potential to be much more powerful than we are on our own, and we can begin to more easily step out of line: for example, we can take the streets.
Hopefully, people can walk away from the actions on October 22nd feeling more empowered, having made more friends and comrades, and feeling that the boundaries set by the police and the law can be resisted and destroyed. Although we may be separated by where we live, or by the color of our skin, we have come together against common enemies, sharing a common desire for freedom and to fight for the people we love who have been brutalized by the cops. Inside the jails or on the streets, we are escaping, into rebellion - and finding each other, in the process.