Los Angeles: Hundreds in the Street Denounce LAPD Murder of Homeless Man

March 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


This is the LAPD’s training ground. This is where the LAPD comes and hurts people, because they know these people don’t have any family to fight back; their family have either given up on them, or don’t know where they are, or they don’t have any.
(Homeless man who helps to organize people on Skid Row)

Two hundred or more people took the streets early Tuesday morning in downtown Los Angeles, less than 48 hours after a gang of LAPD pigs carried out yet another cold blooded murder—this time of a homeless man known as “Africa” (since identified as Charly Keundeu Keunang, a native of the African country of Cameroon). The whole incident was captured on video—with seven million people reportedly viewing it within seven hours of being posted.

This murder is unlawful and illegitimate—and should not be tolerated. If you look closely you can see a small woman standing her ground as the police jump Africa; and when one of the pigs throws his baton to the ground, she appears to pick it up. She too is then brutalized and arrested, adding to the savagery of this unjustified LAPD assault. People in the area who know her have not heard from her since.

The marchers gathered at San Pedro and 5th Street on Skid Row at 8 am, near the spot where Africa had been pulled out of his tent, roughed up, and thrown to the ground by six cops and then shot to death. Many homeless people came to show support for Africa and the protest, to talk to protesters and the press about Africa’s life and death, and what it’s like to live on Skid Row. The man quoted above has been homeless and living on Skid Row for two years; he has been helping people get organized. He spoke movingly about life there, and about the police:

To live down here is, this is a community full of good people; it’s a real community. And people here are more real than anywhere else I’ve ever been. And they keep it real... We have mental health down here that doesn’t do its job. There are eight or ten mental health facilities right here, and they are all empty; because they don’t go out to the community and bring in those who are their patients.... There are a lot of people who are off their medications. Then you have those who are stable, but they’re just broken. Their spirit is broken. They are good people when you talk to them. They just down and out, they just need a helping hand, not to be picked on, in a playground for their [LAPD’s] training.

From this spot where Africa was killed, homeless people joined with activists from different organizations, religious forces, and many others in a march to LAPD headquarters, expressing their anger and outrage at this killing and chanting, “They can’t kill Africa! They can’t kill Africa.”

The march went right up to the entrance to the building; and while a line of cops stretched across the entrance, organizers, religious leaders, and homeless people spoke with a lot of outrage about the police killing of Africa; the brutal treatment by the police of the homeless living on the streets of Skid Row; demands for change; and the need to continue the struggle. An organizer for Stop Mass Incarceration Network—SMIN—spoke to the rally about the crossroads the movement to Stop Police Murder confronts; the call to Stop Business as Usual April 14; and that this killing is yet another reason we can’t wait to open the floodgates and reopen the road of resistance. He also called on people to mobilize others to be at LAPD headquarters at noon on Saturday to condemn the murder of Africa even more forcefully.

Many people brought their own signs to the demonstration. One sign read “Stop Modern-Day Lynching! Prosecute Africa’s Murderers, and ALL other Killer Cops! #Can’t Kill Africa; #Black Lives Matter.” Three women stood side by side, each holding a sign: “Our Homeless + Mentally Ill Matter;” “Stop the Frustration, Take Action;” and “All Lives Matter.” And there were signs and a banner from SMIN: “#Black Lives Matter; #Use Your Voice!; #ShutdownA14; StopMassIncarceration.net.” SMIN and the contingent from the Revolution Club were broadly distributing whistles for people to wear, and to blow, whenever they see the police mistreating people on the street.

Inside LAPD headquarters a meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission—which supposedly oversees the actions of the police—was being held to discuss this killing. While the protest continued outside, dozens of protesters packed the meeting, where they confronted and challenged the Commission. The Los Angeles Times headline was “‘Irate’ protesters blast LAPD at packed meeting” (March 3, 2015). They reported that people jeered at Police Chief Charlie Beck and at the President of the Police Commission. And “One man called them ‘cowards’ as he repeatedly blew a whistle into the microphone—an attempt, he said, to get their attention.”

Major media poured out to cover this march—TV, radio and newspaper reporters and film crews—from the local papers and stations; to national sources like AP and Reuters; and also international media from many different countries.

* * * * *

More than 100 people converged at LAPD Headquarters at noon on Saturday, March 7, taking the streets for a second time in six days in outrage over the cold-blooded killing of a homeless man, known as “Africa” by a gang of LAPD cops. The protestors included skid row advocates, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, the Revolution Club, the LA Community Action Network (LACAN), and many individuals demanding that the wanton police murder of Black and Latino people must be stopped.

Los Angeles, March 7


Los Angeles, March 7

Los Angeles, March 7
Los Angeles, March 7. Photos: Special to revcom.us

After a short rally at LAPD headquarters the demonstrators, intense and defiant, marched through downtown streets to the site of Africa’s murder on skid row. There were chants of “You Can’t Kill Africa” and “Indict, convict, put the killer cops in jail—The Whole Damn System Is Guilty As Hell!” Twice the protestors held die-ins in the middle of intersections as people along the way showed their support, sometimes talking about other police killings that angered them as well.

As they marched, organizers for SMIN, along with the Revolution Club and others, passed out whistles, especially to the homeless men and women on skid row. Blowing the whistles is a form of collective alert and defense to use whenever pigs come down and mistreat people. Many of the homeless grabbed them up while protestors chanted: “Yo brother/sister, we’ve got your back; we blow the whistle when the pigs attack.” SMIN is calling on people to mobilize for a day of Blowing the Whistle on brutal, murdering cops on March 14.

From the spot where Africa was gunned down, the march continued to Metro Division nearby, where Africa’s killers are stationed. Keith James spoke for SMIN, emphasizing the need to retake the political offensive against police murder, and against the New Jim Crow, calling on people to “Shut It Down” on April 14. Stickers for A14 went out everywhere—to demonstrators, to people along the way, and to the drivers caught in the traffic. Cue Jn’Marie—”Pastor Cue”—whose Church Without Walls ministers and advocates for the homeless, spoke about the need for more help, not more brutal cops, for the people on skid row. And a Revolution Club organizer linked these protests to getting ready for a real revolution that can finally put an end to all of the crimes of this system.

The demonstrators then headed for Union Station. They marched through the station filling the air with banners and the sound of chants.

There was both English and Spanish media there, and the demonstration was given significant coverage on TV that night. The Los Angeles. Times reported on the demonstration, including running a large photo, and pointed to the actions on April 14: “ Organizers linked the killing of Keunang [Africa] to the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York City during police encounters, and said they were planning another local march April 14, as well as an action in Washington, D.C.”

This kind of response—hot on the heels of yet another wanton murder of one of our people by this system’s enforcers—is righteous; and more people and organizations need to step forward and join them. More and more people need to become involved; the word has to spread everywhere—to the high schools, the college campuses, among the Black, Latino, and immigrant communities, artists, and professionals of all kinds—that April 14 must be a day when everybody who hates the way the police get away with murder knows they have to act to say NO MORE!

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