L.A.: Police vs the People at Pueblo Housing Projects

Revolutionary Worker #1190, March 9, 2003, posted at http://rwor.org

Derek Jenkins, 33 years old, was chilling with his friends at the Pueblo housing projects in South Central L.A. when the police approached him on February 18. A few minutes later, he was executed in cold blood by the LAPD.

When Derek Jenkins's wife heard the gunshots, she ran out of her home, thinking it was her son who had been shot. She ran through an alley and found her husband clutching his stomach with one hand. With the other hand, he signaled the police to stop shooting. She ran to her husband, but the police told her to "get the fuck back." They had Derek Jenkins at gunpoint, even though he was helpless. Moments later they killed Derek in front of his family.

The police were supposedly in the neighborhood because of a family dispute. They came up on Derek because his friend had a beer can. Some people say he had a gun, and others insist he didn't. But the one thing everyone agrees on is that Derek was shot in the back as he ran away from the police.

An eyewitness was ducking inside her car when the police were shooting. When she lifted her head up, she saw Derek lift his left hand up. She heard him say, "Stop shooting, I can't breathe no more." Then a cop came from behind him and shot him again. The eyewitness asked the cops if she could get out her car, but the cops said no.

The cop who shot Derek had killed three other people before.

The police tried to cover up what they had done by making people of the projects go back into their homes. But the people fought back against the police, throwing rocks, bottles, and even an ironing board.

Then the LAPD sent in the riot police to brutalize people and force them back to their homes. The next day the people from the projects shut down the water in the whole projects and blocked the Metro Blue Line train tracks in an effort to be heard by the media and to bring attention to Derek Jenkins's murder.

On Thursday night, February 20, a vigil was held on the corner of 55th and Holmes. Residents from the projects and members of the Black Riders Liberation Party put up a memorial of candles, flowers, and balloons to remember the brother whose life was brutally stolen by the police.

The next night, Derek Jenkins's family members were having a dinner in remembrance of his life. At the same time, the police were running all over the projects raiding people's homes, saying they were after young men with guns. The cops beat and arrested a Black man in the same alley where Derek was shot. And the cops went to the house where Derek's family was having dinner and, with their guns and flashlights out, harassed the people.

One of the cops present when Derek Jenkins was killed is a pig who is known and hated for harassing the youth in the neighborhood. He provoked the people by cursing at them. This cop had once stopped Derek Jenkins's son and threatened that if the police ever caught him writing on the walls, he would know what they were going to do to him.

Derek's wife explained to the RW how life is in the Pueblo Projects: "It's hard when the police harass people because the type of clothes they wear and the kind of attitude they have. Every time the police come over here, they threaten you, and they give you the looks. It shouldn't be like that. It's no life over here no more. Every time we see a cop, we don't know whether he's going to shoot us, threaten us, or attempt to put us in his car. There's no justice, no peace anywhere. I can't even trust the police no more. They say to dial 911 when you need help. I would rather die first than rely on the police for help."

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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