Revolution #263, March 25, 2012

Brownsville, Texas

Jaime Gonzalez: 15-year-old Middle School Student Murdered by Police

Revolution received the following correspondence from Houston:

The New Year came in hard and cold in Brownsville, Texas.

On January 7, the body of 15-year-old Jaime Gonzalez was laid into the ground of the Buena Vista Burial Park in Brownsville. Jaime's body was dressed in the uniform of the Cummings Middle School band, for which he was a drum major. Family members, neighbors, and hundreds of Jaime's classmates were at the cemetery.

Shot Down in the School Corridor

Jaime died three days earlier, bleeding to death in the corridor of his barrio school. His life was blown away by Brownsville police, who murdered him with two shots to the chest and possibly one to the head. Jaime Gonzalez was pronounced dead at 9:15 a.m. January 4, little more than an hour after school started.

Police claim that Jaime had punched another student, and was walking through school corridors with a gun. It is unclear if Jaime had been involved in a fight with another youth at the school. The gun Jaime was supposedly carrying was actually an air gun that shoots BBs.

None of this mattered to the cops who swarmed into Cummings Middle School that Wednesday morning. The school was put on lockdown and students were held in their classrooms while heavily armed police prowled the corridors.

The McAllen Monitor reported the chilling words of the murderous encounter when the police came upon Jaime: " 'take him out' a policeman yells, according to the radio records. The sound of fired shots reverberates on the radio call. Officers quickly call for emergency medical crews. 'Subject shot,' an officer repeats on the radio call."

Killing Jaime Twice

Brownsville is a city of about 175,000 people on the southernmost tip of Texas. It is directly across the Rio Grande (Rio Bravo) from Matamoros, Mexico, its "twin city." The Brownsville Herald reported that a 2006 report from the U.S. Census Bureau concluded that Brownsville is "the most impoverished city in the nation." Brownsville also has the highest rate of child poverty in the U.S., according to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. The Brownsville School District has been featured in several national news stories for the chess champions that it produces year after year. But for most kids in Brownsville, school is a dead end to nowhere, and almost 50% never graduate.

The afternoon of Jaime's death police and other authorities began a vicious, slanderous assault to condemn and vilify Jaime, and justify his murder. The slanders of Jaime continue to this day. Interim Brownsville police chief Orlando Rodriguez said that "The suspect was ordered numerous times to drop his pistol and he disobeyed officers' commands. He pointed the weapon at the officers, at which point the officers that were actively engaged by the suspect fired at least twice."

A large picture of the gun Jaime was supposedly carrying was displayed at the police press conference, and police spokesman Jose Trevino said, "It has the exact appearance of Glock"—as if this explained why it was perfectly reasonable for these pigs to gun down Jaime Gonzalez. This same police department, joined by the notoriously racist and abusive Texas Rangers, went on to conduct an "investigation" (a.k.a. cover-up) into the death of Jaime Gonzalez. The cops who took part in the shooting were put on paid leave.

A shameful and obscene chorus of police, city and school officials, priests, and even professors at a local university also painted Jaime as a "troubled youth," perhaps involved in gangs and drugs. None of this has been proven. Photos of Jaime mugging for a camera are the only "evidence" they offer.

These authorities are saying that Jaime somehow left the cops who shot and murdered him no other choice, and they supposedly were only defending themselves and protecting other students when they unloaded on Jaime Gonzalez. At his press conference, Chief Rodriguez made the utterly stupid and hateful comment that "we think it looks like this was a way to bring attention to himself."

Norma Navarro, Jaime's godmother, told the Brownsville Herald that days before Jaime was murdered "Both principals (from Cummings) went to the mother a week ago and told her 'Jaime is an excellent student. He's a great person. His grades are real good and we're real proud of him.' So, how can they come and say that he's a terrible kid?"

But even if everything the cops are saying about the killing incident at Cummings Middle School is accurate—which is far from certain—how the hell does that justify the cold-blooded murder of a 15-year-old youth? The basic truth is this—no matter what had happened between Jaime Gonzalez and another student, no matter what Jaime Gonzalez may have had in his hand—nothing justifies the brutal murder of a 15-year-old middle school student.

What does it say about this system when its armed "officers of the law" brazenly and openly defend the shooting death of a young student in his school? What does it say about this system when these cops are joined by other authorities in trying to concoct something in Jaime's background or character that somehow justified his murder?

It says that they are enforcers of an unjust, illegitimate system, a system that has no future for the youth. As Bob Avakian said in his talk Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, "The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness."

Big Controversy, Courageous Resistance

The murder of Jaime Gonzalez has sparked huge controversy in Brownsville, Matamoros, and the entire lower Rio Grande Valley. Some people have bought into the lie that the cops were justified in killing Jaime. A Facebook page set up for Jaime has been filled with debate and anguished outpourings about his life and death.

Many youth from Cummings and throughout Brownsville are seething with anger, outrage, and support for Jaime's family. They organized a car wash that raised enough money to pay for Jaime's funeral and burial. They remained at the side of his coffin during a 24-hour vigil in which many left mementos and tokens of their friendship and love for Jaime.

The Brownsville Herald reported that the day of Jaime's burial, "as the funeral procession wound through the cemetery, the youths stood on two trucks shouting 'Justicia!' and 'Te queremos, Jaime!' They wore matching white shirts that read 'I love Jaime' on the front and had his picture on the back with his date of birth and death. Some cars carried messages—'RIP Jaime' and similar sentiments—while at least one had an anti-police message with an obscenity. Constables and the Sheriff's Department escorted the funeral procession."

After Jaime's burial, the youth held their own protest/memorial for Jaime, first marching and chanting in front of the Brownsville Police Station, then marching to Cummings Middle School.

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