Revolution #265, April 8, 2012

From a Reader:

The Police Killing of Kendrec McDade—Another "Freebie!"

In the evening of March 24, Pasadena, CA police (a few miles east of Los Angeles), while responding to an alleged armed robbery, shot and killed 19-year-old Kendrec McDade. Have we heard this story before—an unarmed young Black man, who is a suspect, shot and killed by the police, who "feared for their lives" when the person was "reaching for his waistband? And how many more times are we going to hear it before we put this madness to an end once and for all? Let's translate what it means for cops to say "he was reaching for his waistband." It means that they have free license to kill an unarmed Black or Latino youth. In other words, for many cops, it's a "freebie."

The facts: Pasadena police respond to a 911 call from a person who said his backpack was stolen by two men and one of them had a gun. A patrol car with two cops heads to the scene with siren and emergency lights off. They corner McDade, who is running down the street, and fail to ask him to "halt" or "stop." One cop fires a "volley of shots" at McDade out the window of the patrol car while the other cop jumps out of the car and shoots at McDade. In a suit filed by McDade's parents, it states "that in the final moments of his life, Kendrick McDade was handcuffed and 'began to twitch' on the ground after being shot...and the cops left McDade handcuffed on the street 'for a protracted period of time without administering aid.' "

It later comes to light that the person who made the 911 call lied about seeing a gun in order to get the cops to respond quickly. That person has since been arrested for involuntary manslaughter, but the Pasadena District Attorney's Office has been reluctant to file those charges. We do not know the specific reasons why the cops and the Pasadena District Attorney are at odds in going after the person who made the 911 call, but one thing his arrest has done is to deflect the blame for McDade's killing away from the cops to the person who gave a false report about seeing a gun. And now, the Pasadena Police Department lists the two cops as the victims, so they can get funds from the California Victim Compensation Program! Think about it, they get further compensation for killing a Black youth! Finally, we learn that there is no police video of what happened because when the police responded without sirens and emergency lights on, the cameras in the patrol car are not automatically turned on. According to the Pasadena police chief this is normal procedure for responding to an armed robbery. An international news article questioned why the cops failed to turn on the police car's video camera before they shot McDade.

In the midst of a national outrage over the killing of Trayvon Martin, the Pasadena community is doubly outraged. At a community meeting where the cops and the clergy tried to "chill out" the people who are outraged, signs read "Newlan and Griffin [the cops] are guilty" and "We Are #Trayvon #Kendrec We Are." The Pasadena Star News reported that at the same time (as this community meeting was taking place), Pasadena's El Centro de Acción Social's annual peace walk, which was renamed this year to "Cesar Chavez/We Are Trayvon Martin Peace Walk," had 200 marchers, some wearing hoodies to call attention to the shooting of Trayvon Martin. And in the March 30 edition of the Pasadena Star News, a front page headline read, "Kendrec McDade shooting draws comparisons to Trayvon Martin."

The comparison of the killings of these two Black youth—Trayvon Martin and Kendrec McDade—brings into focus the fact that if you are young and Black or Latino, you may not make it home alive if you come in contact with the police or some racist vigilante. The RCP's statement on "The Murder of Trayvon Martin" speaks to the fact that these are not isolated incidents, "but only the latest of an endless chain of such acts that are perpetrated, condoned and covered up by the powers-that-be…"

Kendrec McDade was an outstanding football player at Azuza High School, located in an eastern suburb of Los Angeles. His mother, who gave birth to a second son last week, told the Pasadena Star News that she "never thought that a week later she would be identifying the remains of her older son at the hospital." "I want justice and my son's name returned to him," she said. She told revolutionaries who were selling the Trayvon Martin issue of Revolution newspaper that she did not have enough money to bury Kendrec but she was glad to see people out in the streets around this killing. She and her husband have likened the killing of their son from a patrol car to "a drive-by shooting."

BAsics quote 1:13 from Bob Avakian rings out more then ever. "No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that."

We will be reporting on further developments in the killing of Kendrec McDade.

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