Stolen Lives in 2012:

A Year of Cold-Blooded Killings of Black and Latino Youth by the Police

December 23, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper |


No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that.

Bob Avakian
Chairman of the Revolutionary
Communist Party, USA
BAsics 1:13


These are just some of those cut down, murdered by the police or racist vigilantes—Black and Latino, mostly young—in 2012:

January 4. 15-year-old Jaime Gonzalez, Brownsville, TX Shot and killed at his school by police who claim Gonzalez had punched another student, and was walking through the corridors with a gun. The gun they said Gonzalez was carrying was an air gun that shoots BBs.

February 2. 18-year-old Ramarley Graham,
The Bronx, NY Shot and killed in his bathroom after narcotics detectives kicked down the door of his home. The cops say Graham ran into the building and “appeared to be armed.” But surveillance cameras show Graham casually walking into the apartment and no gun was ever found. Hundreds came to Graham’s funeral, held monthly vigils, and continue to protest and demand justice at court hearings. The killer cop, Richard Haste, has been indicted on manslaughter charges. Constance Malcolm, Ramarley Graham’s mother, said, “I’m not going to stop until we get justice. Richard Haste is not going to take my son and think we going to lay down. We’re not. Not on my dead body.”

February 7. Manny Loggins, San Clemente, CA Loggins, a Black Marine sergeant, was stopped by an Orange County deputy sheriff while driving his car—then killed in front of his 14- and 9-year-old daughters.

February 26. 17-year-old Trayvon Martin,
Sanford, FL Racist vigilante George Zimmerman saw Martin walking home from the store and called 911, saying Martin looked “real suspicious”—i.e., he was a young Black male, walking around in a hoodie. After the 911 dispatcher told him to stay put, Zimmerman pursued Martin and shot and killed him with a 9-millimeter handgun. The murder of Trayvon Martin instantly touched a raw nerve for millions of Black people—“That could have been my son,” “That could have been me.” Protests were held all over the United States—with common themes and bitter outrage. Many youth, as well as older people, wore shirts with Trayvon’s picture, and chanted slogans like “I am Trayvon” and “Justice for Trayvon.” Some people, especially youth, wore hoodies, which Trayvon was wearing when he was murdered, and carried signs saying things like “am I suspicious?” or “do I look suspicious to you?” Many raised the memory of Emmett Till—wantonly murdered by white supremacists decades ago—to express the fact that people have seen this go on for far too long and will not stand by as it continues to happen again and again.

March 21. 22-year-old Rekia Boyd, Chicago, IL Shot and killed by an off-duty cop who fired 10-15 times into a crowd in a park on Chicago’s west side. While admitting Rekia was an innocent bystander, the police immediately ruled the shooting justified, claiming another person had pointed a gun. No such gun was ever found. The murder of Rekia Boyd came in the midst of outrage around the murder of Trayvon Martin and was one of five “police involved shootings” in Chicago in six days—the fifth being the murder of Ricky Bradley, a 52-year-old former school teacher who had fallen on hard times and become homeless.

March 24. 19-year-old Kendrec McDade, Pasadena, CA Shot and killed by police who said they were responding to a 911 call about a stolen backpack. A suit filed by McDade’s parents says “the cops left McDade handcuffed on the street ‘for a protracted period of time without administering aid.’” At a community meeting cops and clergy tried to “chill out” outraged people carrying signs that read “Newlen and Griffin [the cops] are guilty” and “We Are #Trayvon #Kendrec We Are.”

July 1. 49-year-old Milton Hall, Saginaw, MI
It was caught on an amateur video: A mentally ill, homeless man pacing in a parking lot, yelling, “My name is Milton Hall, I just called 911. My name is Milton, and I’m pi**ed off.” Six cops arrive, they surround Hall. They tell him to drop the knife he is holding. Then suddenly they start shooting—46 times, killing Milton Hall instantly.

July 21. 25-year-old Manuel Diaz, Anaheim, CA Shot and killed by police who said they responded to a call about men congregating in an alley, saw two men in the alley, one of them with a shotgun. Witnesses say Diaz was just washing his hands when the police came up and shot him in the back and that after Diaz was down on the ground a cop shot him another time in the head.

July 22. Joel Acevedo, Anaheim, CA Shot and killed by police who claim they recognized “a gang member on probation in a stolen SUV.”

After the July 21 and 22 murders of Manuel Diaz and Joel Acevedo there were protests against the Anaheim Police Department (APD) for over a week. On July 24, hundreds of people went to an Anaheim city council meeting; outside, demonstrators were attacked by police riot squads with rubber bullets, beanbags and pepperballs. A thousand people squared off against the riot squads and marched through the streets. Newspapers reported that a bank and a Starbucks were trashed, as were some other downtown spots; fires were set in the street. The crowd was young, angry. The mood: “Just ‘cause we’re Latino you want to kill us!? We’re not having it, not this time.”

September 22. 45-year-old Brian Claunch, Houston, TX The police, responding to a call of a man in distress, entered the Healing Hands group home. The police report says Claunch waved a “shiny object” and “attempted to stab the officer with the object.” The cop shot and killed Brian Claunch. The shiny object was a ballpoint pen. Claunch, who had long suffered from mental illness, was a double amputee, had only one arm and one leg, and was in a wheelchair when he was killed.

October 11. 37-year-old Kenny Releford, Houston, TX Police believed Releford, a Navy veteran, had broken into the house of an elderly neighbor. They ordered him to come out of his house with his hands up and said they had no choice but to shoot him when he refused to obey their command. But neighbor witnesses disputed this story. At least two people told the Houston Chronicle that Releford exited his house with his hands in the air as he walked toward the police. Releford was shot and fell to the ground and was shot again. One witness said she and others called out to the policeman saying, “Please don’t shoot. He’s mentally ill” and that “they had no reason to shoot him.”

October 25. 32-year-old José Leonardo Coj Cumar and 29-year-old Marcos Antonio Castro Estrada, La Joya, TX Two Texas Parks and Wildlife Rangers reported a “suspicious” truck near the U.S.-Mexico border and claimed the truck driver wouldn’t stop when ordered to do so. Together with a state trooper helicopter they began a chase. One cop began blasting away from the helicopter, killing José Leonardo Coj Cumar and Marcos Antonio Castro Estrada. Both men were from the Guatemalan town of San Martín Jilotepeque and had taken this perilous journey to El Norte in search of work.

November 8. 15-year-old Dakota Bright, Chicago, IL Dakota Bright was on his way to his grandmother’s house—a few hundred yards from where he was shot to death by the police. His body lay in the grass, handcuffed while—according to witnesses—the police shooed away an ambulance. For four hours police refused to tell his family what was going on. Police claim Dakota was pointing a gun at them when he was shot but the gun they “recovered at the scene” was three backyards away from Dakota Bright’s body. For days following this outrageous murder family members, friends and people from the community marched, rallied and held vigils demanding “JUSTICE FOR DAKOTA” and “No More Cops Killing our Kids.”

November 23. 17-year-old Jordan Davis, Jacksonville, FL Shot and killed by Michael Dunn, a white racist who complained of the “loud music” coming out of the SUV that Jordan Davis and his friends were sitting in at a gas station. Dunn pulled out a gun and fired eight times, two of the bullets hit Davis, killing him. Dunn reportedly claims he saw a barrel of a shotgun poking out from the SUV, that he shot in self-defense, but no weapon was found at the scene. Dunn’s lawyer says he may use a “Stand Your Ground” defense—a law that says that killing someone can be justified if the killer “felt threatened”—that they simply believed there was a gun even if there wasn’t one—which amounts to nothing less than open season on killing Black youth. People responded to this vigilante murder with outrage and resistance: A call was issued to “Turn Up the Music” one week after the murder in honor of Davis on a radio station in Jacksonville and this call spread to other cities. In a dramatic salute, members of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department parked their water trucks along the runway where the plane carrying Jordan’s body was taking off from Jacksonville to Atlanta for the funeral, and created an arch of water over the plane.

November 29. Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, Cleveland, OH Russell and Williams, a Black man and woman, were driving in downtown Cleveland when the police began chasing them, joined by the highway patrol, sheriffs and two other cops. After a 25-minute chase, they end up trapped in a cul-de-sac in East Cleveland, a poor, mainly Black community. 13 Cleveland cops shot 137 bullets into the car. Russell died after being hit by 23 bullets. Williams died after being hit by 24 bullets. Both were unarmed. A Black woman who was there said, “I never saw so many police cars in my life, not even on TV. What happened is a modern-day lynching. Every time I think things like this has sort of simmered down, something worse happens and so we have to get out and protest some more.” And in response to city officials saying people need to wait for an investigation, one family member said, “We don’t want to hear ‘we are going to investigate’; we want the cops locked up now, not the way they are treated now, working at a desk job and working out in the gym to relieve stress. What about us and how heartbroken we are about our loved one who was murdered? In fact, lock them up or they might do it again.”

December 15. 23-year-old Jamaal Moore, Chicago, Il Shot twice in the back. The police chased an SUV, responding, they said, to a robbery. When the car crashed, people in the vehicle fled. Witnesses say Moore slipped and fell, the police ran over him and then shot him. An angry crowd gathered at the scene and according to news reports, confronted the police.



The cold, hard fact of American life is that a Black or Latino youth wearing a hoodie is considered suspect by the standards of the powers-that-be. These youths are treated as thugs who deserve to be hunted down, locked up and, if need be, tortured in solitary confinement. This capitalist system has no way to profitably exploit these generations of youth, and its response has been criminalization and mass incarceration: decades of a “war on drugs” aimed mainly at locking up Blacks and Latinos; a whole section of society enmeshed in the criminal justice system.

These are the workings of a system that produces killer cops and racist vigilantes. This is what leads to things like the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy where hundreds of thousands every year are racially profiled and harassed, or worse. This is how we have gotten to a situation where 2.4 million people are imprisoned, the majority Black and Latino.

It was tremendously important—and it made a real difference—that tens of thousands of people took to the streets to demand justice for Trayvon Martin and for Manuel Diaz and Joel Acevedo. It’s critically important that we not sit back and be silent, but find ways to fight and express determination to get justice for all the victims of murder at the hands of the police and racist vigilantes. And we need to link that to building a big, determined mass movement against mass incarceration.

Editor’s note: Tyisha Miller was a 19-year-old African-American woman shot dead by Riverside, California police in 1998. Miller had been passed out in her car, resulting from a seizure, when police claimed that she suddenly awoke and had a gun; they fired 23 times at her, hitting her at least 12 times, and murdering her. Bob Avakian addressed this.

If you can’t handle this situation differently than this, then get the fuck out of the way. Not only out of the way of this situation, but get off the earth. Get out of the way of the masses of people. Because, you know, we could have handled this situation any number of ways that would have resulted in a much better outcome. And frankly, if we had state power and we were faced with a similar situation, we would sooner have one of our own people’s police killed than go wantonly murder one of the masses. That’s what you’re supposed to do if you’re actually trying to be a servant of the people. You go there and you put your own life on the line, rather than just wantonly murder one of the people. Fuck all this “serve and protect” bullshit! If they were there to serve and protect, they would have found any way but the way they did it to handle this scene. They could have and would have found a solution that was much better than this. This is the way the proletariat, when it’s been in power has handled—and would again handle—this kind of thing, valuing the lives of the masses of people. As opposed to the bourgeoisie in power, where the role of their police is to terrorize the masses, including wantonly murdering them, murdering them without provocation, without necessity, because exactly the more arbitrary the terror is, the more broadly it affects the masses. And that’s one of the reasons why they like to engage in, and have as one of their main functions to engage in, wanton and arbitrary terror against the masses of people.

Bob Avakian
Chairman of the Revolutionary
Communist Party, USA
BAsics 2:16


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