LOS ANGELES—Four waves of families and supporters of those who have lost loved ones to police murder marched to downtown Los Angeles Tuesday morning for a rally against #DeathByCop. The marchers carried 617 life-sized cardboard coffins, one for each of the 617 confirmed people killed by Los Angeles County law enforcement since the year 2000.
The project originated from data collected for the Youth Justice Coalition (YJC) study “Don’t Shoot to Kill – Law Enforcement Involved Homicides in LA County, 2000-2014,” which documented the deaths of 589 people in Los Angeles County killed by law enforcement officers between January 2000 and August 2014. [http://www.youth4justice.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Dont-Shoot-to-Kill-Summary-September-2014.pdf
The west wind of the march gathered in MacArthur Park and rallied at the Union and 6th St. location of the murder of Manuel Jamines, outside the Rampart LAPD station, and by the LA Unified School District headquarters building on the way to the LA County Board of Supervisors on W Temple St. Chants included, “Build our communities! Abolish the police!”
The east wind of the march began at the East LA Sheriff Department building, with rally locations at Mariachi Plaza and LAPD headquarters on 1st and Main St. before arriving at the LA County Board of Supervisors. The north wind of the march congregated at Men’s Central Jail (Bauchet and Vignes) before marching past Union Station, through Skid Row past the memorial site for slain brother Africa, and on to the Board of Supervisors central rally destination. The south march arrived at the central rally point by way of the LAPD Newton Division station and the Hill Street Court.
Even those who prepared the hand-painted coffins in the weeks leading up to the march expressed a somber, awestruck silence upon seeing hundreds of paper memorials occupying the entire roadway outside the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration. Adam of the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA-CAN) recalled literally crying at the visual impact of 150 coffins laid on the ground outside the jail as the south wind of the march assembled earlier in the morning.
As the crowd first took the streets for a die-in adjacent to the array of hundreds of coffins, songs played over the portable address system included "Every Breath You Take / I'll Be Missing You" and “What's Going On.” Danza Azteca led the hundreds assembled in a musical dance ceremony honoring Mother Earth.
The YJC “Don’t Shoot to Kill” study lists the individual victims of police murder by name, age, race, location and as many incident details as possible. The report notes disturbing patterns in homicide resulting from law enforcement use of force, including the frequent use of “reached for waistband” and “thought he had a weapon” as evidence for the need to shoot to kill. Names and stories were chronicled aloud over the public address during Tuesday’s street assembly.
Calls to action include a reiteration of the Black Lives Matter LA (BLMLA) and YJC demands:
1. Fire officers responsible for the death of Ezell Ford and Omar Abrego. (Contact Chief Beck: 213-236-1400 or email@example.com
2. Demand City Attorney Jackie Lacey investigate and prosecute officers responsible for the deaths of Ezell Ford and Omar Abrego. (Contact Lacey: 213-974-3512 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The entire march was not permitted. According to the organizers from the S.T.O.P Police Violence Coalition, “We will not ask permission from our oppressors to fight for our own dignity.”