“We say black lives mater to bring focus and attention to the unjust inequality that’s been going on in this country since it’s founding.” Steve Relyea.
Photos: Tom and Nadin Abbott
Dec 13, 2015 (San Diego) At one point the demonstration has up to 21 people. While not well attended there was passion among the speakers. Desiree Smith came to speak once again about her son and how he was abused by Officers. She said “It is a time for a change. Black lives matter in San Diego.” She added that ““in San Diego lone 400 people have been killed at the hands of law enforcement.”
She came to represent the families of Anthony Ashford, Demontez Jones, and others. As she read the names, one of the demonstrators quietly played the drum as if playing a bell. There have been thousands nationwide that have also been killed by law enforcement, she remarked. Also this does not include just those who were abused and targeted by Law Enforcement,
With the advent of social media many of these abuses are now being recorded. She added, “My son was brutalized by the police. He will forever be traumatized. He was chocked, his head was slammed against the wall, he was slammed to the ground while a taser was pus against his back. All on his high school.”
She did emphasize that schools are not becoming unlike prisons, and they no longer give parents discretion to raise and guide their children,
Steve Relyea, one of the march organizers, spoke about how putting the police in schools is just extending the carceral state to the schools, Whole some military transfers have stopped under the 1030 Department of Defense program, that does not mean that schools are not increasingly resembling prisons.
Relyea also spoke about racism. “Anybody who thinks that racism is dead, is just willfully ignorant at this point. It’s apparent all over the place.”
Relyea did acknowledged the limited progress that has been achieved. Two major points The first is that California has gotten rid of the Grand Jury system to adjudicate police shootings. We also now have police wearing body cameras, in the city of San Diego, though supervisors are not yet wearing them. Nor were they turned on during two critical incidents, This was at a cost of 4 million dollars.
The other is at the national level. The President has curtained the 1033 program, that transferred a lot of military gear, such as helmets and gas masks, as well as Mine Resistant Vehicles to police departments,
Still “we need all police to wear body cameras, and turned on,” he quipped.
Manny Aguilar spoke of how the march for climate change disappointed him. The reason for that is that it was an event that did not include voices of color. It did not include what is happening just a few miles down the road in Tijuana. It did not include why the world is mad at Americans. He cited a statistic that said that while we are 5 percent of the world’s population, we use 30 percent of world’s resources. Well, we checked. he was off. It is worst than that According to an article published by Scientific American:
“With less than 5 percent of world population, the U.S. uses one-third of the world’s paper, a quarter of the world’s oil, 23 percent of the coal, 27 percent of the aluminum, and 19 percent of the copper,” he reports. “Our per capita use of energy, metals, minerals, forest products, fish, grains, meat, and even fresh water dwarfs that of people living in the developing world.”
This was not something mentioned during the march and that bothered him. It bothered him because the march concentrated on the issues that affect the middle class. His critique was on the lack of intersectionality and the necessary coordination between different communities. He spoke on how issues that affect one, affect all, and how he has noticed an issue of activists. We are 10 minutes from an international border, but language is limited to English only during many of these events. He did point, rightfully so, that no speech was done in Spanish.
He was talking form his heart, and speaking of how things, in his mind, have to be kicked another notch. He also spoke of how we need to get away from the concept of race, as understood in the United States. He made another president point. This is how things are connected not just across cities, but nations. Relyea later mentioned that a year ago people were fighing against police abuses in Hong Kong. At the same time, Manny spoke of Ayotzinapa, and the 43 students that were killed. He wore a shirt that not only had the number 43, but also the waling “Vivos se los llevaron, vivos los queremos, they took them alive, we want them back alive.”
This is not just an issue in the United States. But an issue that crosses borders and crosses peoples.
Sabrina Garland spoke of how this has affected her. “Police brutality and state sponsored terrorism permeates the lives of people like in all ways.” She gave one particular example that affected her mother. She was at a sauna and another woman called the police on her mom. Why? The other woman did not feel comfortable around her, and called the police because she smelled funny and felt that was an assault. Her mother was beaten, ended up with a shattered arm,. and lost her job. On top of the was charged with assault on the officer and resisting arrest,
Garland also mentioned that over the last few months she has been repeatedly called the N word. She spoke also of the limits to her life because she is African American. There are places she really should not go to, or other life conditions she should aspire to. This is not the 19560s, but the current United States, where people are increasingly becoming more open about their racism. The candidacy of Donald Trump has given permission to many of these people.
Garland also mentioned that many have accused her of being over sensitive. She said, “I’d rather be overtly sensitive than a hateful racist murderer. ”
Styles Steve, who grew up black in America, and even joined a gang at one point because the violence has been normalized, spoke on how he was harassed from the time he was young,. Just going to play a video game meant getting stopped by officers and questioned as to where he was going or what he was doing. This normalized this.
He also learned early on about the system that keeps people, African American people, down. It is a system designed from slavery including laws that prevented the mixing of different races, Steve also spoke of the black codes that prevented blacks from even getting together in groups of more than four. (He included the blue codes that did something similar for Native people).
It is time to name what is at the root of this. Not only is it White Supremacy but systems of colonial control that keep the conquered peoples down. It is no wonder that children of both native peoples and African Americans have such a hard time entering elite learning institutions, It starts with substandard schools and goes from there.
His words were echoed by Rayne Ibarra-Brown, student leader at the University of San Diego. She updated the facts that the students are demanding increased diversity in the school. She spoke of how many deaths have been (nationwide) since June. This is over 1000. She also said that the San Diego Polcie Department, Imigration and the Border Patrol “disenfranchise many here in San Diego.”
These bodies “continue with the mass incarceration, mass murder and unconstitutional surveillance of people of color.” She quoted Angela Davis that said that the system sends people of color to prison by first robbing them of housing, health care, education and welfare. Then it “punishes them by participating in the underground economy.”
This is a system, Ibarra-Brown continued, that creates a very profitable prison system. She also said that the regime within prisons includes not just abuse but the state sanctioned killing of civilians. (People of color have a better chance of receiving the death penalty.)
After they were done, Catherine Mendonca of United Against Police Terror spoke about Tuesday and Women Occupy San Diego, They will be speaking to the City Council in the morning session over the Citizen Review Board (CRB), which increasingly is being shown as very ineffective. The plan being proposed is the County Civilian Review board, that does have subpoena power and is far more independent from the police.
Women Occupy even followed their own cases within the CRB, which never were presented. This showed to them how little independence the body has. Recent reporting from Channel 7 discovered that there is a clear conflict of interest and that the board is rigged against it’s own citizens.
Over the course of the last year has seen Women Occupy members not just followed their own cases, but now put pressure on the city council to bring not just more transparency but an effective board. The goal of this new proposal is to have the city adopt the same standards used by the County Sherriffs Department.
There were no arrests.