Every day since the tragic shooting death, residents of Moreno Valley, California and surrounding cities have taken to the streets to protest against the latest incident of police brutality in the inland empire. Dante Meniefield, a black man, was shot to death by a Moreno Valley police officer, inside an apartment. When asked why he fired his weapon at Meniefield, the unidentified officer, a nine-year veteran had said, "he moved." The one round fired by the officer struck Meniefield, killing him immediately, yet his family was not notified of his death until 14 hours after it took place. They have yet to view the body of their loved one, because the Riverside Sheriffs Dept. said there is no viewing area at its morgue, even though the building was constructed only last year.
"No justice, no peace, no racist police," is a common battle cry in the Inland Empire as one police killing after another has occurred, including the December 1998 shooting of Tyisha Miller by four members of the Riverside Police Department. Police watched nervously from a distance, and performed surveillance from an unidentified white vehicle which always seemed to be parked nearby along the 3/4 march route. The first day, they had ordered the marchers to remain on the sidewalk, and were greeted by jeers.
Marchers spoke of their experiences with this police agency which historically has targetted blacks for arrests and violence in the predominantly white city, populated mostly by people who commute to jobs in L.A. and Orange counties. "The police have always been down on us," one young woman said. "It's always been like this."
Attorney General Bill Lockyer who recently pushed the city of Riverside into signing a legal agreement to reform its police agency, listened to stories of similar human rights violations being committed by the Sheriffs Dept. and the agencies it contracts with different cities including Moreno Valley, but said there was not enough problems to act. This violent act, of racial profiling hopefully will change his mind. Or the prospect of daily marches, rallies and acts of civil disobedience will send the message home, that not all is well, with yet another Inland Empire law enforcement agency.