“Just Doing Their Job”

One Month in SF Bay Area: Pigs Kill a Man for Shoplifting, and Other Pigs Walk for Cold-Blooded Murders

| revcom.us


Just in the month of March in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is not yet over as of this writing, police in one city shot down a man for supposedly stealing from a thrift store, and other killer cops were allowed to walk for previous murders. This is on top of the failure to indict the cops who murdered Stephon Clark in Sacramento, shooting him in the back in his grandmother’s backyard for holding a cell phone these cops say they thought was a gun.

The Murder of Charles Ballard

On March 13, just outside the border of Oakland, Charles Ballard, a 41-year-old Black man, was shot and killed in a thrift store parking lot. Alameda County sheriff’s deputies fired “at least” two dozen shots, killing Ballard and seriously injuring a woman in the car he was driving. The supposed reason? The pigs suspected Ballard of shoplifting from the thrift store, and were supposedly in danger when he tried to pull out of the parking lot.

The Murder of Chinedu Okobi

On March 1, across the bay from Oakland, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe announced that no charges would be filed against the police who tased Chinedu Okobi to death last year. Okobi, an immigrant from Nigeria, had been jaywalking, according to police, when pigs went after him in cars and on foot, knocked him to the ground, and tased him repeatedly. On a video of the incident, Okobi can be heard calling outWhat did I do?” and “Get them [taser wires] off me!” The cops tased him again and again, until he died. All of this is on video.

The DA declared that deputies acted within California law and had been under department orders to enforce jaywalking laws more stringently. The fact that the cops lied about what happened and later admitted that they lied (after the video came out) didn’t make any difference to the DA. Under the state law in California, if someone resists police and tries to flee, even if fleeing for their life from a band of murderous thugs as Okobi did, the police are supposedly justified in using force. And under this system, it is the DA’s job to back this up.

The Murder of Joshua Pawlik

On March 6, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said she would not file criminal charges against four Oakland cops for shooting and killing a homeless white man, Joshua Pawlik, last year. Pawlik was lying asleep in an alley near the MacArthur BART station. The police came up on Pawlik and started yelling orders at him: “Take your hand off the gun,” and “Don’t move.” When he finally woke and started to sit up, police immediately fired 22 shots. Police said he had reached for a gun nearby. Oakland Police Chief Anne E. Kirkpatrick reviewed the case in an internal investigation, and only “lightly disciplined” the officers involved. Kirkpatrick ignored the video from cops’ own body cams that showed that Pawlik had not even reached for the gun—he was just waking up, startled, when he was hit with a hail of bullets. The cops’ whole story was a lie.

Apparently, this complete whitewash of the crime did not sit well with the federal monitor of the Oakland Police Department, which has been under federal oversight for the past 15 years. The federal monitor criticized the OPD chief’s decision to give only a slap on the wrist to the cops who murdered Pawlik as “disappointing and myopic.” The message is that the chief should not have been so crude in the exoneration of the murdering cops, particularly in light of the video showing what actually happened.

So what was the result of this federal intervention? The pigs caught on video brutally shooting and killing a homeless man were suspended from the force, and may face termination, rather than just “lightly disciplined.” In other words, just another slap on the wrist for the killer cops who “serve and protect” this oppressive system.


“Police murder... and the murderous logic of this system‘s election game.”

A selection from REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN. See full film here.

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