Oct. 23, 2014 (San Diego) The annual stop police brutality march took place on Oct 22 in City Heights, with at it’s height about 220 participants. It was loud, it was tense, and the police also showed quite a bit of restraint.
The march comes this year with the backdrop of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and we are all waiting for the Grand Jury’s decision. It also comes with another unique backdrop to San Diego, and that is the disappearance of 43 students, near the town of Iguala, in Guerrero Mexico.
The theme of the night can be best-summarized wit the angry challenge to the police, “stop killing our children.”
The community of City Heights feels that the police has abused them, and that the police sees them as enemies. This is not about whether they are right or not, (though there is a long history of white privilege in the United States which is recognized by academics.) But these impressions will have to be addressed, and not just faced by stone faced police.
The speakers did not just address the streets. They also addressed the issue of treatment of prisoners within the system of California corrections. Martha Esquivel has a relative in solitary conferment, her brother. Imagine living in a cage, alone, with barely any human contact? Over 29,000 inmates went on hunger strike to seek the end of this practice in 2013. This is the best known.
There have been others, in Pelican Bay the strike happened, according to Esquivel, in 2011. The reason why prisoners organized is because “they are being tortured, day by day.” The Center for Constitutional Rights agrees with this view and takes the long view of why it was abandoned in the first place in the 19th century. This was because people were loosing their minds, just like they are today.
She asked the attendees that if they have a relative in prison, not to abandon them. This is out of basic humanity. She added, that when she visits “it’s only through a glass.”
She added, “police brutality is not only outside prison, but also within prison.” She said that those “who are inside solitary confinement are being killed slowly.”
The other issue that was part of the event last night was the disappearance of the students in Mexico, in the southern state of Guerrero. Some background is necessary.
The attack on the students happened in September near the town of Iguala in the southern state of Guerrero. In Mexico there have been marches, multiple marches, and in one of them one of the parents said “we demand as parents of the families, that they (the authorities) return our sons who are students at the Normal schools (Teachers college) who were disappeared by force, by municipal authorities.”
Over the course of the last few days a mass grave with 29 bodies was found, no identities yet, there have been calls for international humanitarian bodies to get involved in the case, such as Amnesty International.
The Federal Government has alto taken over security in Iguala, after government buildings were burned, and 12 municipalities. The reason, the Federal Government has taken over the investigation, and found collusion between local municipal police forces and the drug cartels. This might even bring down the governor of the State of Guerrero.
So back to the demonstration, Felix Garcia and Bertha Gutierrez spoke to the issue, and pointed out that there is a long history of mistrust of the government in the state of Guerrero. There is also a lot of distrust of what the Federal Government has to say, and they believe the government disappeared these students.
They allege, the students were taken because they were a direct challenge to the narco-state, which is designed to take all resources from Mexico and transfer them to outside powers. The state is comprised of all levels of government, local, state and Federal. Given that the government has in the past tried to close Normal schools in the State of Guerrero and during the 1960s there was a guerrilla movement in the state, there are valid reasons for residents of Guerrero not to trust what the government says. During the late 1960s and early 1970s Mexico did wage a dirty war where people did go missing. Americans might remember the student demonstration at Tlatelolco in 1968 right before the Olympic games, which ended with troops in the streets.
Garcia also alleged that this disappearance was done in collusion of all concerned, and that some of the dead were burned alive. People need to work together to stop this; another world is possible, they said.
Incidentally, this was the overall theme of the event; another world is possible.
Finally, speaking of police abuse, Emmanual Wimer a City College student told his story to the crowd. On February 23rd he was detained by Trolley Security (who are not police officers) at San Ysidro and beaten. Later on Border Patrol joined up, and he told the crowd yesterday that San Diego Police arrested him and took him to jail. He also said that San Diego Officer or Sherriff’s Officers denied him medical care.
Wimer said that he was pushed against the MTS vehicle and he was beaten in turn, and later the Border Patrol joined in, and also told that he could call for the Mexican cops. He was denigrated for wearing a poncho, and racially “profiled. He came to this country with the promise that this would never happen, but it does.
His anger was obvious at the police and while raw and close to the surface, he was not alone. At the end of the march, there was a moment where emotions were extremely close to the surface, and participants demanded from the officers to stop killing their children. “We want to live,” they said and face with the officers where tensions got very high. After that, they all got in a circle for a moment of silence for all those who have died in officer-involved shootings.
There was another theme that is quickly emerging, since Ferguson, there is the beginning of unity between all people’s of color in San Diego (or at least City Heights), whether they are Latino or African American. This observer sees this as an important moment, since this is not something that has happened often in the past.
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