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Tyisha Miller remembered in light of recent spate of police shootings

by Rockero Friday, Dec. 30, 2011 at 12:56 AM

RIVERSIDE (California) - Today marks the thirteen-year anniversary of the police murder of Tyisha Miller, a nineteen-year-old African-American woman shot by the Riverside police department. The murder caused an outcry, particularly among the city's black community, and led to some of the most militant and long-reaching organizaing the region had seen in years, including a shutdown of the 91 freeway and the establishment of numerous bureaucratic apparatuses put in place to prevent such tragedies.

Photos courtesy of Occupy Riverside

Tyisha Miller rememb...
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The tragedies have yet to cease though. On Thursday, December 22, Riverside police officers shot 22-year-old Michael Easley near the UCR campus as he fled from the danger of their presence. He sustained several gunshot wounds and is in critical condition but is expected to survive. The Riverside Police Department is now accusing the victim of possessing a weapon.1

In neighboring San Bernardino, police shot 21-year-old Nicholas Jeter outside a 7-11 on Christmas night. He was also accused of having a weapon, but officers recovered no firearm in that case. And like Easley, Jeter survived his encounter with law enforcement.2

And Wednesday of last week, the LAPD shot another young man at Washington Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, who died from his injuries.3 According to a post on facebook from a woman who claimed to be there, the police shot the man more than 15 times and also shot at bystanders.

Police violence is on the rise, with both Washington DC and Los Angeles issuing year-end statistical reports. In LA County, "officer-involved shootings" increase 58% from since last year.4 This type of violent encounter between police and civilians, especially young men of color, is common year-round in our communities, but seems to reliably occur--or perhaps just hurt more--during the holidays. These young men are peoples' sons, brothers, cousins, husbands, and fathers. Even if they have internalized their oppressions so much that they perpetuate those oppressions others, they retain the essential human potential for change and redemption. None deserve to die cruelly on the streets.

The outcry is deafening in its silence. But that is more a symptom of the problem than its root.

Without exception, the victims of police violence are dehumanized. They're called "parolees," "robbers," and "suspects," first by the police, then by the press. In these stories, they always make the officers fear for their lives.

Nevermind that the officer is usually accompanied by at least one other officer (and sometimes up to ten). Nevermind the officer's intensive training in weaponry. And forget that the person causing them so much fear is running scared as fast as they can in the opposite direction.

These narratives are constructed to minimize sympathy for the victims of police violence. If you dare to question whether deadly force is necessary, (you wouldn't do that, would you?) then that doubt is instantly allayed by the fact that the person shot or killed is a criminal--that is, he is a social parasite that hardworking people like you have to pay for.

This "economic justification" attitude is evident on the comments posted to the news articles about these hate crimes. Doug Mclellan, some miscreant who uses facebook, writes about the Pico Union shooting: "Good shootin' LAPD. Tax payers owe you one."

This is the attitude that the social movements of the world are seeking to crowd out with our love-driven efforts and presence. It is attitude that requires unwavering acceptance of authority, which we also challenge. We are changing the way society thinks. Now that we are conscious, we can never forget.

The subject turned to police brutality at this evening's Occupy Riverside general assembly, and a suggestion was made to go to the Unocal 76 station at Brockton and Central where Tyisha Miller was shot and commemorate her.

Somberly, candles were lit and words were shared to assure that Tyisha and all the other victims of the police state live on in our memory.

1. Riverside Police Department. "Officer Involved Shooting." December 23, 2011.

2. Pinion-Witt, Melissa. "San Bernardino robber shot by police." December 27, 2011.

3. LA Times. "Man dies in gun battle with LAPD in Pico-Union area."

4. LAist. LAPD Officer-Involved Shootings Up 58% From Last Year. "

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