Across the Valley People Take to the Streets Against Police Brutality & State Repression
On October 22nd, the national day of police brutality awareness, over a hundred people came together for the ‘Caravan of Resistance’ a three-city protest in Stockton, Manteca, and Modesto. Citizens representing Modesto, Stockton, Manteca, Davis, Sacramento, Merced, the bay area, and even SoCal first started rallying and marching around the Stockton Police Department (who shot and killed James Rivera in 2010) chanting, “No Justice, No Peace!” Next, the Caravan carpooled to Manteca, to rally outside of the Manteca Police Department, which in June 2011, killed Ernest Duenez Jr, who like Rivera, was unarmed. The third stop was Modesto, where the crowd rallied outside of the Stanislaus County Jail with banners reading “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 “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. While marching towards Cesar Chavez Park, people took to the street, chanting, “Who’s Streets? Our Streets!” A CHP officer announced to the crowd over a loud-speaker to get out of the street and onto the sidewalk, but after it became apparent that no one would comply, he left. 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. People also BBQed, ate homemade food, played cards, and listed to music.
On Tuesday, December 6th, people demonstrated outside of the Stanislaus County courthouse in Downtown Modesto to rally against former
Stanislaus County Sheriff Kari Abbey, who shot and killed Rita Elias in September of 2010. Abbey was in and out of court all month, but unfortunately, on Monday, December 19, Judge Ricardo Cordova dismissed murder charges against Abbey. According to the judge, the killing was in self-defense. After the killing of Elias, Abbey’s home was raided by the FBI and numerous marijuana plants were found, as well as weapons, steroids, counterfeit cash, and items stolen from the Hayward Police Department. She is still being charged with child endangerment and embezzlement of funds from the Sheriff’s Department. Less than a week after the murder of Rita Elias, protests broke out in West Modesto involving hundreds of people. They included family members of Craig Prescott, killed by Sheriffs in the county jail, and Francisco Moran, shot to death by Modesto police several weeks before Rita. Protests continued for the next several days, as people rallied outside of the Modesto Police station and marched through downtown and outside of the county jail.
In Merced, also on December 6th,over 100 people expressed outrage outside of the Merced police station at the most recent police murder of an
unarmed man. His friends and family say officers shot Vang Thao without any provocation. Thao was struck by one bullet and pronounced dead at the scene. Police claim that they came to the residential area to find another man, Kong Xiong, who was brandishing a gun. According to the pigs, when they approached, they saw the man point the gun at police officers and fired upon him, hitting Vang in the process. According to residents in the apartment complex, police officers didn’t announce themselves before shooting through a fence into a private residence where five or six people were drinking beer and socializing. Fred Camacho, who lives at the house, said “We didn’t hear no cops say nothing about getting down, drop a gun, nothing like that, all we heard was gunshots fired, and after that, everybody just started running in the house because we didn’t know what was going on.” Camacho and his sister, Nancy, who was also present during the incident, said they had no idea the police were the ones shooting. They also said Xiong didn’t have a gun.
On December 13th, Kristian Williams, author of ‘Our Enemies in Blue,’ spoke at the NOI Mosque in Stockton to a crowd of around 60 people, discussing hos policing in America has more to do with enforcing race and
class inequalities than stopping crime or keeping people safe. An organizer with Portland Copwatch, Williams argues that those that organize against police brutality must harbor no illusions about the role of police within our society. The police grew out of slave catchers, border patrols, and strike breakers and that role remains the same today, only more powerful and with better weapons. Williams offers an analysis of the police and also an insight on how to organize and confront police violence, head on. After speaking for 30 minutes, community members spent an hour discussing ways of resisting police oppression locally.