Sunday, May 3, 2009

Latina community activist shot in the back by cops

By John Santos

Published May 1, 2009 8:37 PM

People of color have been all too aware of police brutality in our neighborhoods. We have all too often seen police used as an occupying force to terrorize communities of color.

Yet another example is the killing of Annette Garcia, who on the evening of Jan. 21 was shot in the back by police in Riverside, Calif. The police were responding to a domestic violence call in the Garcia home. The shooting happened in front of Garcia’s spouse and three children, who were forced to watch helplessly while she bled to death.

Garcia was a member of the Watsonville Brown Berets, a Chicano activist group that organizes the neighborhood to fight against police brutality, end gang violence, serve the community and protect the Chicano community. The Brown Berets are one of a number of groups that are fighting back against police brutality and the repression of people of color.

Witnesses say that the deputy shot Garcia from a block away, while she was walking away, and that she did not present a threat to anyone. The first five shots missed before she was killed by the sixth bullet, which struck her in the back. It took more than an hour for an ambulance to arrive at the scene. She was taken to Riverside County Regional Center where she was pronounced dead upon arrival.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is refusing to release any information on the killing—including the name of the killer cop—but has placed the shooter on a paid administrative leave of absence. Many Riverside county citizens say that this decision is tantamount to rewarding the errant deputy with a paid vacation, and are asking for the resignation of the Board of Supervisors appointed Sheriff-Coroner Stanley Sniff. Riverside County sheriffs have had a long history of abuse and officer-involved shootings.

Approximately 38 percent of Riverside County’s residents are Latina/o and many of its residents face a constant barrage of police brutality, anti-immigrant policies and threats of raids, such that heinous acts like Garcia’s killing are not uncommon.

On Jan. 26 more than 100 outraged community residents took to the streets in a candlelight vigil/protest demanding justice for Garcia and other victims of racist killings such as Sean Bell and Oscar Grant. Signs linked these victims and other struggles together. After the candlelight vigil, protesters marched to the Riverside sheriff’s office. The event was called by Garcia’s brothers and sisters in the Brown Berets.

The killing of Annette Garcia is another in a long line of reasons why we must organize together and fight back—not only against racist killer cops, but also against a racist system that encourages police brutality.


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