Protest in Pasco Defies Intimidation and Demands Justice for Antonio Zambrano-Montes

September 22, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From readers:

Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?

"Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?" is a clip from the film REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN. The film is of the November 2014 historic Dialogue on a question of great importance in today's world between the Revolutionary Christian Cornel West and the Revolutionary Communist Bob Avakian. Watch the entire film here.

On September 12, people in Pasco, Washington, defied police intimidation and repression to protest the announcement that the three cops who murdered Antonio Zambrano-Montes will walk free. After stalling for seven months, Prosecutor Shawn Sant issued a statement saying he thinks “a unanimous jury would not find the presence of malice and the absence of good faith beyond a reasonable doubt in this case.” The fact remains that Antonio was murdered. As documented by viral video and autopsy, Antonio was shot from behind while running away, then shot many times again when he turned as if to surrender. He posed no threat to three police with guns! He was acting irrationally and needed help. Instead he was gunned down like a dog in the street. There has been ongoing coverage of the resistance against this reign of terror in Revolution newspaper.

In talking to people in Pasco, a common reaction we’ve heard to this announcement is “I just don’t see how they can do that, just say these police did not do anything wrong.” It is a reaction of stunned disbelief. Part of our response to people has been that killer cops are murdering people and then walking free in every city and every town in the U.S., and this is why we need #RiseUpOctober, the national manifestation against all this police terror and murder in New York City October 22-24. Also we have discussed what the actual role of the police is in this society, in protecting the system of exploitation that rules over us.

#RiseUpOctober activists and revolutionaries from Seattle were there at the rally called for by Tri-Cities Community Solutions in the central downtown park. Many were hanging back under shade trees while listening to the speakers in the 95 degree heat. Some of the people we met on #BARevolutionary T-ShirtDay came out wearing the BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirts and brought their family.

One of Antonio’s aunts spoke on stage: “Antonio has a mother, has a father and a family, and they are suffering a very sad hardship in Mexico... just like all of us here, but I think you cannot compare a mother’s pain to anything. Five months before he was assassinated, he suffered an accident. His hands were hurt. He did not have the strength to fight against police officers....” (Antonio was injured in a fall while working in an orchard.)

A revolutionary also spoke, standing on stage with the family of Antonio, talking about #RiseUpOctober as a national outpouring in the streets of New York City in full view of the world, as what we must do to actually end this terror. And that we must “Indict, convict, send these killer cops to jail,” to which the crowd responded: “The whole damn system is guilty as hell!" They by now know this chant in its entirety.

A march led off from the rally and took the full width of major Pasco streets, winding through town on its way to where Antonio was murdered at the intersection near Vinny’s Bakery, which still bears bullet holes in its walls. There is also a small memorial to Antonio that people maintain on the sidewalk. The banners people carried included the big one we brought, with many faces of lives stolen by police murder nationwide. A small but loud and defiant group leading chants stayed on the sidewalk, and we found out why: The police had a recent history of selectively snatching the more outspoken protesters off the streets.

At the intersection by Vinny’s, people rallied in the setting sun, with the cars driving by often honking in support. Pasco pigs were observed in the parking lot across the street, in an unmarked car, but parked so as to make it obvious to the protesters, especially local people, that they were being watched and identified. Locals also spotted local youths who avoided the protest, but drove by in their cars and honked or raised a fist. Several of those in the protest, including one of Antonio’s family members, wanted to make it clear they were not intimidated, and brought the large Stolen Lives banner over and displayed it in front of the cop car, calling these pigs out as murderers and cowards hiding under the protection of the system.

We Need to Get 100 Families of Those Murdered by Police to NYC for October 24!

Earlier in the day we shared materials with family members of Antonio about the #RiseUpOctober call to get 100 families of loved ones murdered by police to NYC on October 24. They showed interest, but it was a later discussion where we were able to get into what this really meant, as far as going beyond the scattered protests across the country and forging that into a powerful manifestation in New York City, calling on everyone to show which side they’re on and raising the possibility of ending this terror and murder, that really made a difference in their understanding. They left thinking about how they themselves could go to NYC and with plans to watch the video of the event from Harlem, “What We Must Do To Stop Police Terror and Murder.”

We worked with them to make short videos calling for funds and talked about how we can work together to raise money for plane tickets. The protest that day was small, but Antonio’s family members did NOT want to stop fighting and did NOT want to accept the decision not to bring the cops that killed him to trial. It seemed to make a big difference for them to find out that there is a way forward and higher, #RiseUpOctober, for families and everyone who is determined to see this nightmare of police terror and murder ended once and for all.

More on the Atmosphere of Intimidation

The initial response to Antonio’s murder was a flood of unexpected mass protest in Pasco, including many Latino immigrants and other oppressed people. One of these actions shut down a major bridge. The best float at the annual Pasco May 5/Cinco de Mayo parade was one with puppets and horses with Antonio’s face on them. People talked about that for weeks afterward. Yet the crowd at this latest protest was only about three dozen people, almost all activists, and many of them from out of town.

While the rally near Vinny’s was breaking up and people were talking in smaller groups, we talked to people and learned how the scale of police repression in this small agricultural town was one factor affecting local people’s decision on whether to come into the streets.

Police are specifically targeting people they feel are leaders of resistance, those who have been speaking out at public meetings and protests or seen as organizing. These folks have been snatched from the street and even the sidewalk while doing nothing that other people weren’t at the time. While locked in the back of a cop car they heard the cop radio say, “We got their leaders!” One who was tackled and injured was denied treatment by a doctor, who also colluded with the police by writing a letter saying there was no injury. Honest doctors later found a blood clot and torn ligaments! His arm is still undergoing treatment.

After people were dispersed from one march, cops hunted down and arrested people. For example, one activist from out of town was snatched later at a taco stand. When people went to the jail to demand he be set free, cops swarmed out and snatched a local leader. During all this the police had no-name warrants in hand. Others received visits at home from police for made-up reasons. One woman was taken from her home right before a scheduled march on an old warrant that cops chose to wait until that time to use. All those arrested still have charges against them, trials still pending, or years of deferred charges prohibiting any civil disobedience, all in an attempt to keep them under the thumb of the system.

In spite of this atmosphere of intimidation, as we started packing up the car to get back on the road to Seattle, two different people saw and approached us from a distance: one to buy a Revolution newspaper, and the other to get a T-shirt. He wanted a Justice for Antonio T-shirt, which we didn’t have, but decided to get a BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirt instead when he read the flyer about what it means to wear this T-shirt—that you’re stepping into the revolution. The other person encouraged him, saying “Yes, that’s a good T-shirt for you!”

“Indict, convict, send these killer cops to jail! The whole damn system is guilty as hell!”

There are people in Pasco who are determined to continue to demand and fight for justice, but it is clear that much more is needed to get justice for Antonio and all the victims of murder by police AND to defeat the police and state repression that aims to crush resistance and demoralize the people. We must spread the call Which Side Are You On?/#RiseUpOctober nationwide! Everyone needs to throw all in on this! Support, share, participate, donate, and be in New York City October 24 to STOP police terror and murder.


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