|Ricky Miranda, R.I.P.|
For many this is an all too familiar tale. In it, we have a distraught person armed with a weapon and intent on hurting themselves shot dead by police. Like in other instances, the person did not attempt to hurt other people, only themselves, but was still killed by an officer. Also, as in other such shootings, it is unclear as to what the police actually attempted to do in order to help Ricky, or if they did anything at all. Instead, as in all of these tragedies, we are fed a line that the lives of the police were in danger and that death was the only way to stop an officer from being attacked.
However, this is rarely the case. In the last days of 2010, Modesto police critically shot Brian Reed not that far from where Ricky Miranda was later shot and killed, when they responded to a call that Reed was threatening to kill himself. When Reed refused to stop pointing a knife at his chest, police opened fire, almost killing him. In September of 2010, Modesto police responding to another house call, shot and killed Francisco Moran. Police claimed that Moran came at them with a knife; later it was revealed that Moran was armed only with a spatula. Also in September of 2010, an off-duty Sheriff, Kari Abby, shot and killed Rita Elias in West-Modesto. The Sheriff's Department would later claim that Rita pulled out a realistic looking fake hand-gun and Abby shot in self-defense. Witnesses and neighbors deny this claim, stating that Abby murdered Rita in cold-blood.
Currently, the Modesto Police Department is investigating the death of Ricky and the CHP refuses to release the name of the off-duty officer who was involved in the shooting, claiming that they are waiting for "things to cool down."
If people still hold any illusions to the possibility of police investigations of other police killing people resulting in reprimand much less jail time, we need only look at recent events. In the past month, the District Attorney cleared both the police and the Sheriff's Department of any wrong doing in both the deaths of Francisco Moran and Rita Elias. This means that charges will not be brought on the officers by the same people who sign their checks - no surprise here. The DA also cleared the Sheriff's Department in the death of Craig Prescott, who was murdered by guards inside the Stanislaus County Jail. Some claim that Chip Huskey, a dirty cop inside the jail at the same time as Prescott, who was found guilty of raping and molesting his own step-daughter, was given a lighter sentence in exchange for testifying for the Sheriff's Department. Sure enough, Huskey only did a year in jail and did not have to register as a sex-offender.
|Protest for Luis Gutierrez.|
As the saying goes, there ain't no justice - just us. We cannot expect "justice" from the systems of policing, surveillance, and imprisonment when these institutions are designed to repress us. We cannot expect the system to hold it's guards accountable when it gives them the power to abuse and murder in the first place. Thus, "accountability" and community control are completely opposed to each other. We are not interested in legally holding the police "accountable;" this has shown itself to historically be a failure in ending police abuse, and also diverts energy away from actual struggle against the police and into one of "getting the system to work right." Instead, we are interested in creating power over our own communities and taking it out of the hands of the police. Furthermore, we want modes of organizing that stop police violence and harassment now, not later.
In the wake of the Panther patrols, the California government passed a law banning the open-carry of legal firearms in an effort to stop black revolutionaries from organizing against police terror. Copwatching as a means to stop police brutality however, still lives on. In 2006, residents in Ceres organized a Copwatch group in their neighborhood after police began harassing residents, raiding their homes, and threatening their children in the wake of the Andres Raya shootings. Armed with video cameras and recoding equipment, the group documented police interactions in the area for months, leading to a fall of police incursions and an end to much of the abuses.
The creation of power within our communities and on our streets and "accountability" within government are drastically opposed to each other. One puts faith in the system that oppresses us to "work properly" while the other fights for better conditions in the here and now while building for a more liberated world tomorrow.