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by Anna Kunkin for LA Indymedia
Sunday, Sep. 19, 2010 at 10:37 PM
Manuel Jamines was murdered in cold blood by an LAPD officer; and today several hundred people from many established Los Angeles activist groups came together in support of justice, and in protest against a police culture which has long supported brutality and killing of members of vulnerable communities and communities of color.
Today’s march started at Union and 6th in the Union Pico/ Westlake district of Los Angeles, stopped for a rally in front of the infamous Rampart Division police station, and wrapped itself through the neighborhood and back to MacArthur Park. It was made up of an impressive and diverse group of all ages and many ethnicities.
The Back Story:
Manuel Jamines was 37 years old. He was an indigenous Guatemalan day-laborer living in the Pico Union/Westlake district in Los Angeles, who didn’t speak English or even Spanish very well. According to the police, he was drunk and was threatening a pregnant woman with a knife. Frank Hernandez, a police officer on patrol on his bicycle says that when ordered to drop the knife, in English and Spanish, Jamines raised his arms in a threatening manner, leaving Hernandez with no other alternative than to shoot him twice in the head.
As simple as that. That simple?!
Well the surrounding community doesn’t think so. Jamines belonged to a tight- knit community of several hundred indigenous refugees from war and persecution in Guatemala; living in the Westlake district. These are people who, forced by economic conditions, to leave their homes and their families behind, now find themselves being terrorized by ICE agents and the infamous LAPD Rampart Division who can’t seem to wrap its collective brain around the fact that these folk have their own language and culture and don’t necessarily speak or understand Spanish.
Problems between the community and the police have been festering for a while now, and a lot of people question Hernandez’ explanation. What do you mean you had no choice, they want to know? Reportedly the guy was falling-down drunk! And now there are witnesses who have come forward to say there was no knife! Even if there had been, the knife portrayed on the news was tiny! For that matter, Jamines, an indigenous man, was pretty tiny himself. You mean to say there was no other option than to shoot him twice in the head?
So the people hit the streets. Because that’s what you do in other countries when you have a grievance. And they were joined by local activists; some of whom have been involved for a long time in the struggle against police brutality and the culture where for generations cops have been getting away with murder.
So protests which the LAPD answered with rubber bullets, went on for several nights until Mayor Villaraigosa and the L.A. Police chief were finally forced to hold a town-hall meeting to try to appease the folk and bring calm to the neighborhood.
And in a packed elementary school auditorium, Our mayor stated that Hernandez is a hero, and William Bratton, our current police chief, coolly informed the community that the Los Angeles Police Force, one of the largest and most highly trained in the country, is not trained to take knives away from people; and instead, shooting a man point-blank in the head with a deadly weapon is acceptable behavior.
This is exactly the kind of behavior that is not acceptable to our communities, who consider that calling brutal cops “heroic” only acerbates and encourages a toxic and racist culture. Many feel that we’ve already lost too many people at the hands of law enforcement in Los Angeles and around the country, and so a march was called to demand that charges be brought against Officer Frank Hernandez of the LAPD for the fatal shooting, and to bring attention to the endemic problem of police brutality.
There was apparently some confusion; as it seems that two marches were called and planned by different organizations; and due to a lack of communication, they both took place. Both marches started at the corner of 6th Street and Union, where the murder took place, and one continued on to City Hall, while the People's March moved through the neighborhood. This caused questions and some discussion among people forced to decide which group to march with; about the fact that efforts need to be made in the future for all groups to establish communication and work together.
Even so, the fact that so many groups see the ongoing issue of police brutality in our communities as a serious enough issue to come together under one banner is encouraging evidence that We -The-People are learning and evolving into a formidable and strong movement.
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||Wednesday, Sep. 22, 2010 at 3:09 PM
|"The same people were doing lines of cocaine and huge bongloads in college"
||Friday, Sep. 24, 2010 at 10:37 PM
|No, the loft dwellers
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