Voices from the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, October 22
Families of the Stolen Lives
Revolutionary Worker #981, November 8, 1998
On October 22, 1998, across the country, thousands took to the streets for the 3rd National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. In the lead were parents and family members of people who had been killed by police. Many more arrived at the demonstrations with the stories of how their loved ones had been stolen away by police murder and how the youth have been criminalized. The pictures and statements on these pages tell some of their stories:
Iris Baez, mother of Anthony Baez who was choked to death by police in New York when his football accidently hit a cop car. The Anthony Baez Foundation is a sponsor of the Stolen Lives Project:
"This issue of police brutality has to stop. We don't want to meet like this. We want to meet in parties. We want to meet in fun places remembering our loved ones. We have to be the voice of all the victims. We and each one of you have to be a voice wherever you go and say police brutality in the city of New York is an epidemic."
George Morris lost his 18-year-old son Kevin on January 18, 1998 when he was shot in the back of the head by an off-duty cop in Chicago.
"This protest is a way of honoring, healing. It gives me some way to release a lot of anger. It gives my family something to focus on other than sorrow. Now we can focus on us solving--we weren't part of the problem, but we can be part of the solution...."
D. J. "Junior" Garcia, nephew of Mark Garcia, who was beaten and pepper-sprayed to death by police in San Francisco on April 6, 1996:
"They print lies about my uncle, saying he was a drug addict, saying he's a criminal, saying he's a evil person... My uncle was a husband, a father of two daughters and a son of 4, the uncle of 12 nephews and nieces, a Teamster brother, a drug counselor. He's the kind of man who'd give you his shirt off his back, even if he knew you were nuts. He helped people get off alcohol and drugs. He even helped me to get off of them. And the life that I have today is because of him....Now when we march down our street--
our street, not theirs--I want to hear our chants loud and clear! So every single brother and sister who's not here with us will join, and the ones who have been killed will hear us and be up in heaven dancing."
Ana Jorge, whose son Felix suffered from schizophrenia --was killed in police custody in New York:
"They stuck 15 yards of toilet paper up his nose and down his throat. They took off all his clothes and stuck him in the shower. They dragged him through the courtyard, but they claim they didn't murder him. This kid was chased down naked. You can see it in a tape that they have. But they claim they didn't murder him. Three days without eating. They tied his hands and his legs. They kept changing his rooms. He was very, very ill... When he asked for a medicine, they would beat him and when he asked for his mother was when they stuck all the paper up his nose, down his mouth and did not tell his mother that he had passed away, that he had died--that they had murdered him."
Juanita Hines is the grandmother of 19-year-old Richie Pack who spent his life in a wheelchair. Juanita tells what happened on October 16, 1994 when the Chicago police killed him:
"That afternoon Richie asked permission--could he go out and watch his friends play football. He had a white pit bull, and the boys were playing around him in his chair. So, the police officers came up, Officer Moore and Officer Price. I don't know what they said to him--other than they were going to `shoot his fucking dog' if he didn't put the dog up. So Richie's brother ran and got the dog and took it around to the back.... I looked over the balcony and I saw Officer Moore hit Richie in his chest--like three times. He snatched Richie by his clothes up out of the wheelchair. He pushed him on the wall. He kicked his legs apart. `Open your fuckin' legs!' like that. I said he had enlarged heart and a heart attack, plus he was born with cerebral palsy. I said please put him back in his chair. And he says, `No, he's going the fuck to jail.' and I says, `Take me instead.' The cop was yelling, `I'm gonna see how you wheel your fuckin' self out in front of the judge in the morning.' My grandson was crying, `They hurt me. mamma.' And I says. `What did he do?' The cop said `I think he's the bag man for the drug sellers.' And this boy's arm was up like this. He couldn't move his arm. So, five minutes later, the police pulled off. I went in the house and kissed him. He was still crying and upset. And then he died. Just like that. The doctors say his heart burst."
J. J. Amaya, whose sister was shot and killed by police on March 7, 1998 in Union City, California:
"I'm here because of my mother's tears. I'm here to march with the families who can't be here.... I am here for the youth who get stopped and harassed constantly. I am here for all your causes."
Maria de los Angeles Aguilar--whose husband Oscar Cordova Velez was killed by Border Patrol in San Ysidro, California--sent a statement to the Los Angeles rally:
"The life of my husband was so unjustly stolen....The Border Patrol was dragging a young man by the foot and my husband was trying to defend him, trying to draw the attention of the Border Patrol away from the young man because the Border Patrol was abusing him. The agent took his gun and shot my husband in the heart. He never had a chance to defend himself. And now, for this act of bravery, two children are left fatherless, without support, without their father. I demand justice because that man is responsible for the life of my husband."
Jamie Harris, mother of Drue Frederick Harris who died in custody of Sonoma County Sheriffs nine months ago:
"I join with all of the families all over this nation today to protest the deaths of all of our loved ones. In two years, nearly 16 people have met their deaths at the hands of police and sheriffs on the streets of Sonoma County and in custody. None of these deaths were justified, nor were any of these killers ever held accountable for the deaths they caused."
Donna Dymally's son Marc Fitzsimmons was killed by LAPD Southwest Division. An honor student at Fairfax High School, Marc was accepted to UCLA when he was 15 years old. But in his early 20s, he began to suffer from a chemical imbalance in the brain which causes mood swings. This left him vulnerable:
"On the morning of July 2, 1998 Marc left home to go to the Bank of America for me. On the morning of July 7, five days after he was missing, I received a phone call from my parents who live in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cleveland police department showed up at their home and told them to call the Los Angeles Coroner's office.... My son died within a two-mile radius of my house... yet the Coroner's office never notified me or allowed me to identify my son....What I'm trying to convey to you today is that we are in a state of emergency. If this happened to my son I realize that it's happening over and over again throughout the United States. It's attacking all our lives. Daily, lives are being stolen....it either paralyzes you or it galvanizes you.... Today we're all saying enough is enough."
At L.A. police headquarters, Herman Harvey confronted the police responsible for the death of his son, Kelvin Robinson. Kelvin was a deaf mute; he was shot three times in the back--by the LAPD, October 18, 1997. Paramedic refused to give assistance to Kelvin:
"You are cowards! My mom told me not to hate but to forgive. I cannot forgive you, I cannot not hate you. You are low down dirty dogs. I mean it from the depth of my heart. My family and I have suffered enough.... So, let us stick together and do what we have to do. Don't come here pretending. I don't like pretenders. If you're going to stick with us, be with us. If we have to die, let's die together."
Manuel Reyes, father of Henry Sanchez beaten to death by eight officers in Bell Gardens, Los Angeles:
"My son died at the hands of the police for warrants that he didn't have to die for. My son served this country and fought for those who killed him. He told me what war was about....I took care of my son since he was a little baby and I loved him. I raised him and I gave him all my love, my life. But now my son isn't here. I am never going to forget him but I want you people to know that I am happy to be here with you and that I am not afraid I'm with you, all the way, 100 percent. I will never rest until they meet my demand for justice and peace."
From a poem read by Mario Carrasquillo, brother of Aníbal Carrasquillo, shot in the back by the police in New York:
"Who is this devil in a blue suit?/Is he an average man who's religious or is he a psychopathic man who's vicious?/Does he really protect our brothers and sisters or would he rather have us brutally tortured as prisoners?...Does he really possess the power to decide if I live or die?/ Does this devil in a blue suit, is he human, have moral integrity or is he an immortal species that perceives us as enemies?/These deadly questions have no answer, bringing me to this conclusion/It's time to stand for our rights, fight back and start the revolution!"
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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