Amanda Majail-Blanco does not think of herself as a professional activist, but after California Highway Patrol officers killed her stepbrother, she felt like she needed to lend her voice to the movement. Policemen are hurting people unfairly in the Latino community.
My sister told me, “I know people who died, and I carry their story with me.” My brother died.
Historically, police violence has been a problem for Black people. It is true that it mostly affects them. Slave patrols in the past made it possible to have modern policing today. But this issue is never a clear-cut problem that only affects one group of people.
In the state of California, Latinos make up 39% of the population, but they die more frequently in police-related incidents than other people. The Public Policy Institute of California estimates that Latino people die from these cases every year. Police brutality isn’t just a black-white issue. It’s also an issue for brown people, and in California, where the state’s largest ethnic group is Latino, it’s one of the most important things to fight.
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Salgado, who was 23 years old, was killed last June during an attempted traffic stop in East Oakland. A police officer noticed a Dodge Challenger Hellcat with stolen plates driving recklessly. When the police tried to stop him, he crashed his car into the police cars, and then three officers fired 40 shots at him, killing him and wounding his pregnant girlfriend in the passenger seat.
A few days ago, a man was killed by the police. He had been outside of a Walgreens, and officers who were responding to reports of looting shot him. Police Added that they thought that he had been holding a gun, but it was really just his hammer in his pocket.
Majail-Blanco said that she hears about killings like these often. She said that California doesn’t hear about them because many Latino victims’ families worry about their immigration status or getting harassed by law enforcement agencies.
If people are still scared, they might not speak out because of America’s pressure on immigrant families to not make waves.
“It is common for people to assimilate into our culture, to speak English, to be polite, and also have kids born here. I think that it is hard because the odds are just against us. Many families don’t want the extra attention of speaking out about police violence.”
Latino people fought against police brutality. In 1968, mostly Mexican people on the east side of San Jose formed a group called Community Alert Patrol. They watched the Police Department because they were white. Their methods were similar to Black Panther Party patrols of that same era- they studied the law and recorded their encounters with police.
“Police brutality is an issue for many people, but black people were the first to address it,” said George Glavis. This is because they were harmed by it and created a foundation for everyone else to build on. We just need to keep giving our movements energy and support.
Meanwhile, America mostly thinks of Latino issues as being related to immigration. There is not enough room to talk about the intersectionality of oppression that exists. In California, this might have started to change with Monterrosa.
After a man died in San Francisco, the Vallejo City Council and Solano County District Attorney asked California’s attorney general to take over the investigation. However, the attorney general refused because they have too many other things they have to keep track of. This made Assembly Member Kevin McCarty very mad. This time he tried three more times to get a bill passed that would require California’s attorney general to investigate deadly police shootings of unarmed civilians. It finally passed this time!
A man named Monterrosa was shot by a police officer. This happened because the police officer had killed other people in the past. A state senator, who is named Bradford, then wrote a law that would stop these officers from killing people. And this law was enacted in September.
Monterrosa’s sisters have campaigned for more. They want state victim benefits to be given to survivors of police violence and victims’ families. This will happen even if the officer is not arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime.
SB299 passed the Senate, but it did not pass in the Assembly. The support of SB299 is because many groups agree with the bill. John Vasquez, who is an expert for Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, said that this type of support is happening in California right now.
“The Black community has been focusing on police violence for a long time. This is a good chance for Latinos to be with them and talk about how this happens to people. Let’s end it together.”
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