Two Months—3 Latinos Murdered in Cold Blood by Salinas Police—
People Rise Up—Enough is Enough!

May 26, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Tuesday, May 20, Alisal District, east Salinas California.

It was a terrifying scene, and Carlos Mejia clearly feared for his life, unsure what to do. The cell phone video posted at YouTube ["Officer Involved Shooting - Salinas, CA 05/20/2014"] shows Carlos trying to walk away from the two cops who had him in their crosshairs in a "lethal force triangle," pursuing him down a quiet neighborhood street—their guns drawn and pointed right at his chest. Carlos is a 44-year-old gardener, and he had his pruning shears with him. But he never made a move toward the pigs. The video shows the cops going after him for about a minute. They come to a business district, the corner of Del Monte and Sanborne. Carlos hesitates, stops and simply turns toward the cops. Never once in this whole scene are the police in anyway threatened—they’re the ones pursuing Carlos, they’re the ones deciding how close or far they are from him. Suddenly—bamm, bamn, bamn, bamn. Carlos instantly goes down. Dead. A human being murdered for no goddamned reason!

The central California city of Salinas exploded in rebellion and protest after police executed Carlos Mejia, a 44-year-old gardener, on May 20th. Photo: Special to Revolution

The next words you hear are from the neighborhood residents who filmed the killing: "Why in the fuck did you do that...Fuck that shit!!...You motherfuckers!!" They left his body there uncovered for two hours, as crowds gathered, yelling and taunting the police.

None of this stopped the police from doing what they always do: make up bald-faced, total lies justifying, once again, their murders. This time they claimed Carlos broke into a woman’s yard and threatened her dog—yes her dog!!—with pruning shears, and that when they confronted him the police were threatened with “being stabbed or slashed” and feared for their lives. No. They shot Carlos down like a dog.

Salinas is a city of 150,000 people south of San Jose, California. Agriculture is king and Salinas proudly touts itself as America’s Salad Bowl. Nearly two-thirds of the population is Latino.

Carlos was the third Latino shot down by Salinas pigs in 2 months, and each time the police justified their murders with lies. But this time these bald-faced lies were exposed when their cold-blooded murder was captured on camera and posted on YouTube.

Right after the murder, crowds gathered at the corner where Carlos was shot down to protest. As word spread, and the video went viral, protest and open rebellion involving hundreds, perhaps a 1,000 people, grew and continued late into the night. The day after Mejia was gunned down, the anger against the police murders filled the streets all day and into the night. At one point Wednesday night, as the police were amassing forces, a righteous rebellion broke out. Rocks and bottles were flying and squad cars were being surrounded. According to news accounts, "Police with assault rifles in hand were trying to control an out-of-control crowd after a shooting just blocks away from an all-day protest calling for justice." The news reported that people responded to police repression with rocks and bottles, stood their ground against police dogs, refused to disperse, and blocked traffic.

One woman demanded of the City Council: "In the last 90 days there have been three [officer-involved] homicides. How is this OK? How is this OK to treat your community with such disrespect? I saw the video where they shot this man today ... They just shot him four to five times ... You’re shooting people to death! The police are becoming trigger happy. What are we as a community going to do to stop this? What are you guys going to do about?"

We need to say here... this system relies on the police to violently enforce conditions of poverty, misery and degradation. Revolution can and will put an end to that system. And Day One after the revolution: no more police brutality and murder.

Sharp Struggle—"We Want Justice" vs. "Keep the Peace"

On Thursday, when some readers went to Salinas, a community meeting was being held in a church. City leaders and their supporters called for "peace" and "calm." But outside, at community centers and busy streets, youth were taking the corners and median strips spreading the word that they are tired of being brutalized by police and calling on the community to join them.

Whole families were taking part. Old men yelling in Spanish, urging passing cars to honk their horns in support. Moms were there with noisemakers, drummers pounded a beat, students came with home made signs denouncing the murdering police while hundreds of cars passed honking their horns in solidarity. Local street racers revved their engines and burned rubber in support. Some elementary school kids were running through the slowing traffic and handing motorists the Call for the October Month of Resistance against Mass Incarceration, which we’d distributed by the hundreds. This went on for hours.

There was sharp struggle between the people who were demanding justice and those supporting or caught up in the system’s response. People had drawn up homemade signs saying things like "We Want Justice." But when they tried to go into the "community" meeting, they were told they could not bring in their signs. One of the "community meeting" organizers told the TV news that they were there to promote "healing" and "unity" and they didn’t want any "negativity" or to see the community "divided." Apparently police murder isn’t "negativity," but people demanding justice is.

In fact it’s a positive thing that the community IS divided and many people are fed up with the "keep the peace" approach—like the woman who said "it was not right" for the "peace" organizers to refuse to let her come into the meeting with her sign saying "We Want Justice." As the leaflet from revolutionaries—passed out by the thousands at a march on Sunday—put it:

"Now City officials, politicians and others who represent the system that carried out these murders are telling people to calm down, 'keep the peace,' and 'let the system work.' Police murders, mass incarceration, and deportations ARE the system at work! 'Keep the peace' is just telling us to be quiet while they keep on killing our people and getting away with it, like we’re slaves!"

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