“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” Rally in Support of Ferguson Held in San Diego


Aug. 21, 2014 (San Diego) The rally was called by a coalition of activists in San Diego. While the number of attendees was about 70 people, the passion was palpable. Moreover, attendees came from as far as Oceanside and Los Angeles.

Luke Boyett

Luke Boyett

One of these was Luke Boyett, who spoke of tensions between the minority communities and the police. He said that people are coming to demonstrate since “the police have the law on their side, and they are able to shoot people,” even when they should not.

For example, if a person does not have a weapon, the police do not have a right to use deadly force. This is why they “were given Taser guns so they would not have to shoot people with real guns.”

We spoke about how officers feel they can do what they want, and that there is a clear tension between the police and minorities. They should not be able to do what they want, and what happened in Ferguson, Missouri is not that uncommon. “It’s not fair that police think they can do whatever they want.”

Donna Piranha and Manny Aguilar

Donna Piranha and Manny Aguilar

I also spoke with Manny Aguilar, who was part of Occupy Los Angeles (yes, the Occupy coalition was out en force). We spoke about the tensions between the communities of color and the police. He told us that last week Ezell Ford was shot by Los Angeles Police in similar circumstances and the community feels it was also an execution.

According to the Huffington Post Ford was a man with mental illness, and the lawyer for the family told the Huffington Post that:

“I’m convinced due to the results of my initial investigation that this is not a justifiable homicide, this is in fact an execution,” attorney Steven Lerman said in an interview.”

The lawyer also represented Rodney King.

 Aguilar is originally from Acapulco, Mexico and he said that “they (police) are supposed to serve and protect, but you cannot trust the cops anymore.” He also said that they were as out of control as police forces in Mexico.

He added that the tensions are also present with federal officers, in particular the Border Patrol.

Aguilar is an activist who believes in human rights and works for them. He is also a retired news videographer and can tell the difference between the behind the lens and in front of the lens.

We also talked with Donna Piranha, who is an old hand from Occupy San Diego. Many people outside of the Occupy Wall Street movement believe that since the camps are gone, the movement has melted away. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Piranha would tell those who think this that “They don’t understand what Occupy is. Occupy is an idea.” It simplifies inequality into the concept that less than 1 percent of the earth population have the money and control the resources.”

The source of the inequality is exactly this, access to resources. We also spoke about structural racism, which is part of what we are facing. She said that in her mind the privilege that comes from social class and color is now a matter of discussion, even among people who usually do not discuss politics often. She included in that list her mother and her other senior citizen friends.

Erika Jane

Erika Jane

The open mike session introduced the audience to the poetry of Erika Jane. She declaimed a long poem. She later declaimed the poetry of Martin Niemoller, They First Came for the Jews.

Some segments of Jane’s poem follow, which was long and very moving:

I later learned

People in charge like to lie

Legacies of distorting the victim

Of dissidents who fought the bad guy

 We criminalize having a childhood

Hoodies and skittles

It doesn’t take much, to inflict the killing touch.

It happens time and again, when it will be too much?

The crowd welcomed her references to fascism later on with it is already here.

The march went from Balboa Park to the San Diego Courthouse. Throughout the usual chants, “who’s streets, our streets, no justice, no peace.” A new one entered the repertoire coming straight from Ferguson Missouri, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

There was a certain tension under the surface, and anger. Piranha expressed it very well when she spoke to the crowd at the Courthouse; people worldwide are connecting with each other through the Internet. People worldwide, whether it is the Indignados in Spain, or Occupy San Diego and Occupy Tijuana are tired of this. They realize that they need to work together.

Jacquelyn Phillips, the organizer, read the list of people shot. It included familiar names, such as Oscar Grant, shot in Oakland, and of course Michael Brown. The names were of people killed for either having a mental issue, or committing petty crime. None was armed. All were from a minority.

As the meeting broke, the organizer, Phillips, asked the people to turn to the person next to them and simply tell them, “your life has value.” 

Twitter: @nadinbrzezinski

Facebook: Reporting San Diego

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Categories: civil rights

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