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Dec 8, 21

Hundreds Take the Streets of Tucson After Police Kill Richard Lee Richards in Wheelchair

Report-back on anti-police/anti-police brutality action on December 4th, following the police murder of Richard Lee Richards in so-called Tucson, Arizona.

On Monday, November 29th, Richard Lee Richards was accused of stealing a toolbox from a Walmart. Richards, who was in a motorized wheelchair, was also accused of brandishing a knife. When Tucson Police officer Ryan Remington approached Richards, he was in front of the Lowe’s store. Remington shot Richards 9 times in the back causing his death. Not only was his back to the killer cop at the time, but he was also not threatening anyone. Tucson Mayor Regina Romero and Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus condemned the murder of Mr. Richards and the killer cop was fired in a few days. Regardless, anti-authoritarians, police abolitionists, and others opposed to police violence have not been fooled by these condemnations and the swift termination. This was yet another incident of police valuing property over human life as well as violent ableism on the stolen land TPD occupies. In usual fashion, corporate news media (KVOA-Tucson) wrote an article exposing the victim’s criminal background rather than focusing on the real issue – murderous police violence to protect capitalism and multi-billion dollar corporations.

Flyers announcing various community mobilizations.

Shortly afterwards, Tucson Iron Brigade organized an action in solidarity with Richard Lee Richards on Saturday at 6 pm at Jacome Plaza. About a day afterwards, flyers for another action were also circulated to take place at the same date and time but at 4th Ave and Broadway, a few blocks away. There was a small rift where a local anarchist group complained essentially that Tucson Iron Brigade did not make it clear on their flyer that it would be a direct action and that such info should be shared ahead of time to keep people safer and help folks make their own decisions about attending. Additionally, a flyer was circulated inviting folks in the Phoenix-area to attend the action by joining a caravan.

Around 20 or more folks gathered at Jacome Plaza and during this time a man was rambling while being video recorded. When asked if he was a cop he would not give a clear answer and then later stated he was. He left soon after. A video of the interaction can be seen here. Word came in at this location that the other gathering on 4th Ave & Broadway was more liberal, included speakers and a candlelight vigil, and was intended to remain at that location rather than doing a march.

The march from Jacome Plaza headed in the direction of the other group on 4th Ave and Broadway and folks began chanting against Tucson Police in solidarity with Richard Lee Richards. After gathering at the Ronstadt Transit Center for about 10 minutes, the other much larger group began marching in the street heading west and going right by this group. When the front part of the larger group arrived at the intersection of 6th Ave and Congress, a vehicle pulled up in front of the transit center with an angry man inside. A styrofoam container with dinner was on the hood of his car with rice spilled everywhere. He got out of the car angry as if he was about to start a confrontation yet after he looked at several protesters armed with long guns he suddenly changed his demeanor, tossed the food box in the trash, and then left. Both groups joined together with everyone in the street heading west. At this point, the crowd was definitely over 100 people and possibly over 200 at various points in the march.

Group of bikers attempts altercations; threatens to run over protesters.

A couple of incidents from aggressive drivers began with one man at an intersection in a vehicle yelling and screaming for people to move out of his way. Soon afterwards, bikers raced up to the back of the group and began altercations including threats of planning to run people over. Some minor physical scuffles occurred. In both of these incidents the presence of armed demonstrators helped prevent violence from vehicle attacks. Around 7 people were open carrying long guns as part of a community defense effort.

Small contingent of protesters open carrying “as part of a community defense effort…[P]resence of armed demonstrators helped prevent violence from vehicle attacks.”

The action continued around downtown with no significant issues from fascists. Food Not Bombs handed out vegan burritos. Chants included:

“No Justice! No Peace! Fuck the Police!”

“All Cops Are Bastards! ACAB!”

“No Cops! No KKK! No Fascist USA!”

“If We Don’t Get No Justice You Don’t Get No Peace!”

Barricades in the streets.

As folks marched past construction barricades several people knocked them over while shouting “Fuck 12!” Some redecoration also occurred in various locations including a large “ACAB” painted on a wall as well as the circle-A anarchy symbol painted on an electrical box. Stickers with “Fuck 12!” were also plastered around in various spots. While fascists were few and far between as the march went on and minimal conflict occurred after the bikers, liberal peace police began to try to exert control. Several of these unwanted and imposed peace police began confronting armed individuals and lecturing them essentially to try to declaw the militancy and also push reformism. These movement police were largely ignored but repeatedly re-inserted themselves. One of them put their hand on and pushed one of the armed demonstrators. After a few confrontations here and there they largely disengaged and disappeared. Most of the crowd whether more liberal or more radical stayed with the group as a whole most of the time and made space for a diversity of tactics.

Sign brings attention to multiple deaths in Pima County Jail.

Towards the end of the action it was brought to people’s attention that earlier that day another person had died at Pima County Jail. There has been recent outrage over the fact that 9 people this year have died at Pima County Jail and under questionable or suspicious circumstances. This now brings that tragic loss to 10 people.

People in the streets following the police murder of Richard Lee Richards

Perhaps most noticeable at the action was the fact that there was no visible police presence the entire night nor intervention by them at any time. It is likely as with any action that there were some undercover pigs as well as informants in the crowd. That said, no arrests occurred. The march lasted about an hour before people safely departed. As always, fuck 12. “Stop believing in authority and start believing in each other.”

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