Speak-out at UC Berkeley:

From Families of Victims of Police Murder, Students & Young Revolutionaries: Heart-Rending Testimony, Powerful Calls to Act

April 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


On Tuesday, April 7, a powerful and inspiring speak-and-call to action took place at the University of California, Berkeley. The families of five victims of police murder gave heart-rending, defiant testimony about the murders of their loved ones, the abuse the system heaped on them after, and their path to resistance in the face of unspeakable, never-ending nightmares. They were joined by several UC Berkeley students and the Revolution Club of the Bay Area. All gave impassioned calls to Shut It Down on April 14! More than 75 people, many UC Berkeley students, attended. No one left unmoved, and the anger, determination, and energy in the room pointed to the deep basis and desire for April 14.

Berkeley, April 7From left: Vickie Showman, mother of Diana Showman; Laurie Valdez, wife of Antonio Guzman Lopez; Dione Smith Downs, mother of James Rivera; and Cyndi Mitchell, sister of Mario Romero.

Berkeley, April 7Laurie Valdez, wife of Antonio Guzman Lopez, with Angela Naggie, mother of O’Shaine Evans

Laurie Valdez's husband, Antonio Guzman Lopez, was killed by the San Jose State University police on February 21, 2014. She spoke bitterly, holding back tears, as she described how Antonio, a 38-year-old undocumented day laborer and father of a four-year-old son (Josiah) and stepfather to a 10-year-old daughter (Angelique), was shot through the heart after police rolled up on him while he was eating lunch. Their father’s murder rocked the children—and she fears Josiah will end up in juvenile detention, prison, and that the police would murder him like his father. “I can’t bring Antonio back,” Laurie said, determined that this not be the future for her children. “What I can do is fight.”

Angela Naggie, the mother of O’Shaine Evans, killed October 7, 2014 by the San Francisco police, spoke next. She said she still expects to hear him turn the key to the front door of their house and call out “momma, what’s for dinner?” Angela, who has been out on the streets continually fighting police brutality and murder in the six months since O’Shaine’s death, said, “I’m not going to stop until my last breath… I am fighting for justice. I will be out there on April 14 to shut it down. If we can’t have no justice then these police officers can’t have no peace.”

Laurie Valdez, whose husband, Antonio Guzman Lopez, was killed by San Jose police, speaking at April 7 speak-out at UC Berkeley

Dionne Smith Downs and Carey Downs, parents of James Rivera, a 16-year-old murdered by police in Stockton, speaking at April 7 speak-out at UC Berkeley

See other videos from the event here.

Cyndi Mitchell, sister of Mario Romero, killed by Vallejo police on September 2, 2012, drove more than 100 miles to get to the program. Cyndi said that Mario was sitting in front of their house when he was killed by police in a barrage of 40 bullets. And then she told how the police dragged out the tired lie—they feared for their lives. “You don't fear for your life when you are terrorizing a community,” Cyndi declared. “This officer jumped on the hood of my brother’s car and repeatedly shot his gun after reloading. My brother kept saying, 'wait, we have our hands up.’"

One of the officers who murdered Mario killed two other people in 2012 and has now been promoted to detective overseeing investigations of police. “We are fighting for change,” Cyndi said. “We’re out here stompin’ the ground, we’re marching for miles, we’re breaking our bodies down because it’s important to let people know that the system is not there to protect us. It is killing us… It’s important for everyone to come out on April 14 and to fight for justice. This can’t continue to happen.”

Next, Dionne Smith Downs and Carey Downs, parents of James Rivera, a 16-year old murdered by police in 2010 in Stockton, spoke. The police fired 48 shots at James after they forced the car he was driving to crash. “This is what the AR-15s did to my son,” Dionne said as she pointed to a large photograph being held by her husband showing James’ bullet-ridden body. Dionne remembered the last meal she had with James and touching his cheek. Dionne had been fighting for justice not just for James but for other victims of police brutality and murder in the Stockton area for five years. “I’m not going to go away. I’m not going to be blind. I’m going to fight until I can’t fight no more… On April 14 I’m going to kick Stockton ass…We’re going to shut it down!”

A Black UC Berkeley student, who grew up in Richmond, a poor, Black and Latino community north of Berkeley, said that the police are abusing their power every day and challenged other students to “get out of their bubble” and for different groups and organizations to unite against police murder. The president of the Latino Pre-Law Society exposed police murders and abuse as a “microcosm of a larger system.” He went on to ask the meeting, “How many lives have to be taken, how many families have to suffer before we stand up? This is a call to action!” A Black woman student read her poem–for the first time–a stirring wake-up call for people to break out of their routines and act.

A member of the Revolution Club read a quotation from BAsics by Bob Avakian (2:16) on the role of the police in murdering Tyisha Miller, a 19-year-old woman in 1998. In this passage BA speaks to the brutal way that the police murdered Tyisha and how this would be handled much differently in a society where the people had power.

After the meeting people took up flyers for April 14 and posters of the “Stolen Lives” Revolution newspaper centerfold, and stayed to talk and make plans for April 14.

See the coverage of the speak-out in the campus paper, Daily Californian, here.

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