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At Frank Alvarado Memorial, Family Vows to Continue Fighting for Justice
by Alex Darocy (alex [at] alexdarocy.com)
Tuesday Jul 28th, 2015 6:24 PM
A memorial was held in Salinas on July 10 to mark the one year that has passed since Frank Alvarado was shot and killed by Salinas Police. Frank's family members spoke at the gathering, which was held outdoors near the location of his killing, and vowed to continue their fight for justice. [Top photo: Frank's father, Frank Alvarado Sr., holds a picture of Frank at the memorial and wears a button with his image on it. Scroll down for more photos.]
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Both his father, Frank Alvarado Sr., and his sister, Angelica Garza, spoke about their fight for justice for Frank since his killing, which has included networking with other family members of those killed by police in Salinas as well as the greater Bay Area and Northern California. Frank's family has strongly condemned the Salinas Department in the wake of Frank's killing. They have also been frustrated with the United States Department of Justice, which has not discussed with the public what they have learned about the Salinas Police Department, and instead has been hosting public "listening" sessions in Salinas.

In attendance at the memorial for Frank were family members of Carlos Mejia and Osmar Hernandez, who in separate incidents were also killed by officers with the Salinas Police Department in 2014, as well as Tony Serrano Garcia, the brother of Yanira Serrano, who was killed by a San Mateo Sheriff's deputy in Half Moon Bay in June of 2014.

Signs held at the memorial communicated supporters' lack of trust in the Salinas police, and some contained direct allegations of widespread departmental corruption.

"SPD Gives False Info and Attempts to Bolster Cops Image," read one sign.

"SPD Encourages Code of Silence to Cover Killer Cops," read another.

Other statements on protest signs included, "SPD Cops Abusing Their Power - No Respect," "Good Cops Don't Work with Killer Cops," and "SPD Don't Shoot to Kill, Talk to Pacify."

One sign read, "No Police Prosecution Means No Public Trust," and referred to the announcement in June from Monterey County District Attorney Dean Flippo that no charges would be filed against any of the police officers involved in the killing of Frank.

The story of Frank Alvarado's killing by police is complex, and his family continues to press Salinas police for answers through a civil rights lawsuit. Frank was killed at the home of a relative on July 10, 2014 by Sergeant Brian Johnson and Officer Scott Sutton of the Salinas Police Department. The officers were responding to a call involving a dispute between Frank and his family, and they say that after a standoff with Frank, they were acting in "self-defense" when they killed him because they thought he was coming at them with a gun. Later it was revealed that Frank was holding a cell phone and not a gun. DA Flippo's announcement in June stated that Frank had appeared to have "committed suicide at the hands of the police."

Also in attendance at the memorial for Frank were members of the Santa Cruz based organization Sin Barras. In early 2014, Alvarado became involved with the group, which works to eradicate the prison industrial-complex. In May of 2014 he spoke at a rally they organized to oppose prison expansion in California where he discussed his own recent release from incarceration. The experience was hellish, he said. Frank's speech that day was captured on video. (See: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/07/11/18758476.php )

At the memorial, Frank Alvarado Sr. held a picture of his son taken at that rally in 2014.

In the photo, which Frank's father frequently displays at events to raise awareness about police brutality, Frank can be seen holding a protest sign that reads "Invest in Protecting and Healing, Not in Caging."

The family was so moved by the message they have replicated it on a newly crafted sign, which one supporter held before the memorial.

As he stood next to a small altar assembled for Frank, Frank Sr. spoke at length at the memorial about the kind of person his son was. Since the killing, Frank Sr. has asked his son's friends about Frank's penchant for giving flowers as gifts, and many confirmed that it was common for Frank to give them flowers, which they greatly enjoyed.

Frank mentioned this when he spoke at the Sin Barras rally in 2014. He described how he handed out flowers to people one day when he was walking around in downtown Santa Cruz, shortly after being released from prison.

"I walked in Santa Cruz and I cut a flower off a plant, and I gave it to somebody, and it put a smile on her face," he said.

Frank also recalled how, on another occasion, he had approached a random man on the street with a flower.

"I walked up to a guy and said, 'Hey do you have a girlfriend?' He looks at me kind of weird and I say, 'You know what, here give this to her and tell her you lover her, just make her happy, tell her life is wonderful,'" he said.

To celebrate this side of Frank, members of Sin Barras brought flowers to the memorial and placed them around the altar created by his family members.

Sin Barras dearly misses Frank, and wrote the following about him shortly after hearing the news that he had been killed by police:

"Frank was an extraordinary person with a big and loving heart. His contagious spirit, candid perspective, resilience, and compassion for those who are struggling inspired community-building and understanding around him."


Alex Darocy
http://alexdarocy.blogspot.com/
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by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jul 28th, 2015 6:24 PM
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by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jul 28th, 2015 6:24 PM
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§Altar for Frank
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jul 28th, 2015 6:24 PM
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§Angelica Garza
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jul 28th, 2015 6:24 PM
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§Salinas City Council Member Jose Castañeda speaks.
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jul 28th, 2015 6:24 PM
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