Black and Brown Lives Matter – Monterey Protest Shuts Down Highway 1

On Saturday March 28th, 8 people were arrested at the Black and Brown Lives Matter protest in Monterey.

11117349_895750443802260_1862199787_n

Report by Willow Katz, Sin Barras and Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement:

On Saturday March 28, 2015 in Monterey, CA, about 75 people in a broad coalition of activists, many Brown and Black, rallied at 10 am at the Monterey Wharf and marched downtown to protest white supremacist police brutality in Salinas and nationwide, and to say Black and Brown Lives Matter.

White Salinas police have killed 5 unarmed Latino men since March 2014: March 20, Angel Ruiz, age 42; May 9, Osman Hernandez, 26; May 20, Carlos Mejia, 44; July 10, Frank Alvarado, Jr., 39; October 31, Jaime Garcia, 35. Frank Alvarado Jr. was a member of Sin Barras, a Santa Cruz organization that works for prisoners’ rights and for money and resources to go to the community rather than the mass incarceration of poor people of color.

The rally started with a statement from the Black Brown Coalition: “We have been inspired by the growing movement which has taken the name Black Lives Matter, a phrase and concept created by three black womyn activists and organizers, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi to counter anti-Black oppression in the form of police/vigilante killings and mass incarceration.”

Local news reported: “It’s institutionalized racism,” protester Catherine Cante said. “Black and brown bodies are being targeted systematically.”

11072655_895750393802265_1429762260_n

Frank’s father, Frank Alvarado Sr., and his sister, Angélica Garza, spoke out at the rally about the brutal murder of Frank, who was unarmed, carrying only a cell phone, and their determination to get justice for Frank and the others. Angélica also talked about an incident of police abuse when she called for mental health-trained officers to help with her autistic son. See photos of them (wearing JUSTICE FOR FRANK t-shirts) and others.

Thirty protestors marched onto Highway 1 South, blocked all four lanes, and closed the highway for 45 minutes. California Highway Patrol and the Monterey Police Department cleared them from the highway and MPD arrested eight young people. 4 women and 4 men, from California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) and Direct Action Monterey Network (DAMN), were arrested: Alexandra Walling, Colette Marlin-Winter, Peter Xiong, Trinidad (Amoxtli Ilhicamina) Gonzalez, Michael Fredericksen, Benjamin Wilson, Courtney Thomas, and Maxwell Green, were arrested. They each face five misdemeanor charges, including obstructing a public roadway and disobeying a lawful order by police.

According to a Moscow news report: “‘The fact that I’m black, myself, is the No. 1 thing that brought me out here today,’ Courtney Thomas, 23, of Los Angeles, said on Saturday, as quoted by Monterey Herald. Thomas was speaking before she was arrested later in the day. ‘A lot of men in my community are getting gunned down almost every day, and no justice is being served,’ she stressed.” The article did not mention Brown people nor that Salinas police have killed 5 unarmed Latino men since March 2014.

11077413_895750370468934_1213759417_n

Direct Action Monterey Network has worked closely with the families, the Salinas community, and Sin Barras since last year, to get justice for all those murdered by the Salinas PD and by police and state-sanctioned violence. DAMN is a co-sponsor of Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement and plans to begin Monterey actions on the 23rd of June.

“News Channel 5 caught up with a protester who said she may have backed off after the first warning, but didn’t back down form [sic] her message. Evelyn Gomez said, officer involved shootings need to end. ‘We wanted to make an impact. we wanted people to know what is going on in Salinas, especially in Ferguson,’ Gomez said.” See report and photo of highway shutdown.

After Frank’s family learned of his work with Sin Barras (SB), his father Frank Alvarado Sr., sister Angélica Garza, and niece Natalie Mendoza joined the group. SB sent 4 people from Santa Cruz to the rally Saturday and Willow Katz spoke about Frank’s work for resources and rights for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated persons (including Prisoner Hunger Strikers protesting the torture of solitary confinement), the white supremacist role of police and prisons, and the movement for social justice.

Willow Katz is an activist working with the family of Frank Alvarado, Jr. (murdered by white Salinas police on July 10, 2014), Global Women’s Strike, Haiti Action Committee, Sin Barras, and Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC). She can be reached at sinbarras@gmail.com

Black and Brown Lives Matter Statement
Saturday, March 28th, 2015

DAMN member Ben Wilson captured by pigs.

Today we are gathering to raise our voices and fists together to declare that Black and Brown Lives Matter. We are gathering together to continue the struggle that the rebels in Ferguson re-ignited in August, 2014 after Michael Brown was murdered by officer Darren Wilson, and which has spread throughout the United States since then. This is the same struggle that brought people into the streets in Oakland after Oscar Grant was murdered by officer Johannes Mehserle and into the streets of LA when Rodney King was brutally beaten by LAPD.

We have been inspired by the growing movement which has taken the name Black Lives Matter, a phrase and concept created by three black womyn activists and organizers, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi to counter anti-Black oppression in the form of police/vigilante killings and mass incarceration. We understand that police and prisons are the modern expression and continuation of anti-Black oppression in the United States, which began with slavery, continued through Jim Crow and Segregation, and which now manifests in the current “Criminal Justice System.” Slavery and it’s legacy, along with the theft and colonization of indigenous lands, is the foundation of the system of White Supremacy which extends into other forms that target other People of Color here and in other parts of the world through deportations, militarized borders, drone strikes, bombing, and military occupations. This is why we have decided to extend our declaration to include Brown Lives.

However, we reject the phrase “all lives matter.” This is not because we don’t believe that all lives matter, but because it has become glaringly clear that this world does not believe that all lives matter. From Gaza to Salinas to Ferguson to Detroit to Pakistan, we can see that profit is valued over human life in this world and especially for those humans who are Black, brown, queer, trans*, economically disenfranchised, D/deaf, and have disabilities or are on the spectrum. Business as usual has been enforced and enabled by violence against those of us who identify or are identified as such, and so we are here today to declare that we are not interested in the functioning of this system at any level.

Business as usual in Monterey County means the hospitality and agricultural industries profit from the labor of largely immigrant and often undocumented workers. Part of controlling these workers means constant police intimidation and harassment in their communities, and sometimes even deadly violence. Last year the police in Salinas murdered five unarmed Latino men: Angel Ruiz, Osmar Hernandez, Carlos Mejia, Frank Alvarado, and Jaime Garcia. The policing of Latino immigrant communities cannot be understood in isolation from the broader immigration system in the U.S., which relies on immigrant detention facilities that mirror the broader criminal justice system, which is all justified in part by the “War on Drugs” and “War on Terror.”

Protesters shut down Highway 1 for 45 minutes!

This rationale also reinforces the militarization of the border between the U.S. and Mexico, and is one part of the United State’s relationship to Mexico and much of the rest of Latin America. The other major part of this relationship is largely economic, as Neoliberal policies such as NAFTA unleash the weight of U.S. corporations onto Latin America, sending economic refugees back across the border looking for work. Guns and cheap corn flood into Mexico, drugs and immigrants flow into the U.S. With these dual process in place, the Mexican government suppresses dissent and fuels the drug war with support from the U.S. It is this context that led to the disappearance of 43 protesting students in Ayotzinapa, along with the disappearance and murder of thousands of people every year.

Although the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico is unique, it is not new or isolated. These policies reflect the U.S. relationship to Colombia, one of the major recipients of U.S. military aid, and is a continuation of the history of U.S. support for brutal governments and right-wing death squads throughout Latin America. The original colonization unleashed by European empires on the indigenous people of the Americas is maintained by the U.S. and other settler-colonial states through these processes.

This support for brutal and oppressive governments extends beyond Latin American and covers much of the world, especially in the Middle East where the U.S. unconditionally supports Israel’s violent occupation of Palestine, along with the repressive governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and others. In addition to direct military and economic support for these regimes, the U.S. itself has invaded and bombed countries throughout the region including Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Pakistan.

These seemingly different and disparate acts of violence and repression are intimately connected and all extend from the projects of White Supremacy, Capitalism, and Imperialism. We do not mean to erase the unique ways that people experience this violence, but instead intend to connect these expressions as distinct, but not separate, processes that flow from the same source. We are gathering here to call for solidarity among all people who experience this oppression, and for those who are privileged enough to avoid or benefit from these systems, to stand together and speak out, resist, and challenge business as usual until we abolish these systems and create a different world.

To get involved contact https://www.facebook.com/blackandbrownlivesmattermonterey

Advertisements