Filed under: Police, Southwest, Video
From FireWorks – Richard “Pedie” Perez was shot and killed by officer Wallace Jensen outside of a liquor store on Cutting and Carlson Ave in Richmond on September 14th. Like almost all killings of civilians by law enforcement, the media first presented the police side of the story, alleging that Pedie was violent and attempted to grab Jensen’s firearm. However, through the work of the Oscar Grant Committee (OGC) and community members, the Perez family was able to talk to witnesses and workers at the liquor store where Pedie was shot, presenting a much different story.
They were also able to obtain a copy of the video that shows Perez’s final moments (viewed above). What the video shows is a 24 year old coming home from a night of drinking, when he is detained by police outside of a store. Perez has an altercation with the officer who puts him on the ground, and then gets up and attempts to leave the scene. As Perez is walking away, he is shot by Jensen.
Despite numerous witnesses coming forward and video evidence, Richmond Police and the District Attorney are clear that they do not see a problem with the brutal killing of Pedie Perez. In the media they stated:
“We do a very active, thorough investigation headed up by myself and done with the assistance of a team of our inspectors,” [Deputy District Attorney Barry] Grove said. “We satisfy ourselves at the earliest stage possible whether or not charges are warranted, in the same way that you would investigate any homicide case.”
The Richmond Police Department completed its own internal affairs investigation into the shooting and concluded Jensen acted appropriately, Richmond police Sgt. Nicole Abetkov said.
According to a letter from Richmond City Attorney Bruce Reed Goodmiller, the commission declined to investigate the case because it had already been investigated by “both the district attorney and a neutral investigator retained by the city.”
But while the halls of power and the police remain steadfast behind their decision to murder Pedie, members of the Richmond community that witnessed the slaying are firm that Pedie was not a danger to the officer that killed him. A front page story by the East Bay Express recounts their version of events:
“But two eyewitnesses —said they never saw Perez grab the officer’s gun during the altercation. Investigators from the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office interviewed both eyewitnesses following the incident, and both men said they told law enforcement officials that they did not see Perez grab Jensen’s gun or try to remove it from the officer’s holster.
The first witness, Steven Clark, was stopping into Uncle Sam’s on his way home from work. Clark said in an interview with the Express that as he pulled up to Uncle Sam’s, he saw Officer Jensen “put” Perez on the ground with Perez’s hands behind his back. Clark said he recalls that Perez’s friend told Perez at the time to stop resisting arrest, and that Officer Jensen told Perez’s friend to back up and that he didn’t need any help making the arrest.
Clark said he kept walking into the store, not wanting to get involved. He said that from the doorway, he saw the officer “with Pedie [Perez] still on the ground. …The way they were struggling, [Perez’s] hand might have slid up the side of the officer because he was struggling, but he couldn’t reach the officer’s gun or anything because the officer had him pinned down.
“Like I told the officer [who questioned Clark after the incident], his hand might have slipped on the gun while they were tusslin’, but [Perez] was still face down. He was always face down when I was seein’ him.”
Clark said he took several more steps inside the store, and then looked back through the store window to see Officer Jensen backing up and firing his weapon. “All of a sudden I see the officer backin’ up, shooting,” Clark said. “I said to myself, ‘He must have shot him [Perez] in the legs or something.” Instead, Clark watched Perez stumble into the store, doubled over, holding his chest, walking toward Clark and eventually falling to the ground. “He never moved again,” Clark recalled.”
Marching through downtown Richmond, protesters walked through a car show happening at the Richmond Civic Center. Police approached the group repeatedly, asking the demonstrators not to use a bullhorn or march through the event. One officer in a sickening display of irony, wore a “Justice for Pedie” button. The police were ignored and much of the crowd at the car-show was extremely supportive, throwing up fists and chanting, “No justice, no peace!”
The best part of the day was watching young people from across Richmond and the Bay Area that knew Pedie take the streets; asserting themselves and their own power against police terror. “The police killed my brother!,” one young marcher yelled at passing cars who stopped to ask what was happening. Many people passing by threw up fists and several people even joined the march. Police followed close behind, asking people to get out of the street but made no attempt to make arrests or remove the crowd from intersections.
According to the website, Killed By Police, at least 549 people have been killed by law enforcement in 2015 as of June 27th. There is a war happening on streets of America. It is waged by a government against the population as a whole, as police violence, surveillance, and suppression of social movements proliferates across the social terrain. An entire generation of young people have been deemed expendable; their only future being one of unemployment, incarceration, poverty, or death. As the economy, the environment, and society in general breaks down due to the contradictions created by a system of exploitation and misery, those in power cling to their enforcers, the police, even harder. They look at the uprisings in Ferguson, Oakland, and Baltimore and grow afraid – terrified that the next uprising will become revolutionary.
Over and over police shoot people down in the streets, and over and over in every situation the officer gets away with impunity and without fear of legal consequences. In the few times that police have received reprimand or have been removed from their positions, it has been largely because of large scale uprisings such as in Ferguson, Oakland, and Baltimore.
If we are to build a resistance movement against police terror, we have to in turn build a movement against the system that lead to their creation. Police in America came out of slave patrols and strike breakers; enforcing racial divisions within the population and upholding the right to private property of the rich and powerful.
This is clear in Richmond as it is anywhere. Richmond is a town that faces extreme poverty; brought on by not only the recession and the foreclosure crisis, but also due to lack of employment and decent paying jobs. But Richmond is also a town that was built on, and continues to have, clear racial and class divisions, with racist groups such as the KKK having a long history in the area. Currently, Chevron plays a massive role in shaping Richmond towards its interests, and continues to present an extreme danger to those who live in its shadow.
Hopefully the continued actions of the Perez family and their supporters are only a sign of things to come. Check out their facebook page here.