The REAL "Context" for the Savage Police Beating of Jose Velasco

June 12, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Once again, in what is becoming almost a daily occurrence in this country, a cell phone video shows a group of police brutalizing either a young Black or Latino person, this time a Latino. The incident occurred shortly after 7 pm on Friday, June 5, in broad daylight, in Salinas, a small, mainly agricultural city along the Central California Coast. The video, seen by hundreds of thousands, shows two cops savagely beating 28-year-old Jose Velasco while he is lying on the ground. The police use their batons like baseball bats, holding them with two hands and starting their swings over their heads. Blows land on Jose Velasco's head and other parts of his body as he rolls on the ground. Soon two more cops join in the beating. The beating lasts for nearly a minute. According to media reports, Velasco suffered a broken leg among other injuries.

On Wednesday, June 10, a new video of the incident surfaced showing police placing a bag over Velasco’s head after the beating.

It was Jose Velasco’s mother, Rita Acosta, who called the police to the scene. She was concerned because her son, who suffers from severe mental illness, was running into traffic on Main Street and she feared that he might be injured. She told KSBW TV that she had gone into the street to try to get her son when police arrived. "He was laying there flat and the cops kept hitting him. Boom, boom, over and over and over," Acosta told KSBW.

Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin defended the cops – who remain on active duty – saying that the video was “inflammatory.” He said that people needed to view the video “in context.” Here’s a question for McMillin: In what context is it okay for four cops to brutally beat a mentally ill man for nearly a minute while he lies on the ground, clearly not threatening anyone?

What is the real “context” of this outrageous beating? In Salinas, a small city of 150,000, the police killed four Latino men in a four-month period in 2014. On May 20, 2014, they killed 44-year-old Carlos Mejia as he held a pair of garden shears, an incident that was also captured on video ( On July 10, 2014, Frank Miguel Alvarado, an unarmed 39-year-old, was shot by police, who justified his murder by saying that he pointed a cell phone at them. And, to put this in an even larger "context," what about the nearly 400 murders by police in the first five months of this year ("Police ARE Killing Black People at an Alarming Rate")?

On Tuesday night, June 9, people from the community, including Rita Acosta, crowded a meeting of the Salinas City Council to denounce the beating.

Again and again, we see horrific brutality and murder at the hands of the police. It is not enough to know that this is happening. It is not enough to be quietly outraged. Everyone with a heart and a conscience needs to do everything possible to act to STOP these outrages.


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