|Police in West Modesto.|
At this point in the story, what the police say happened diverges completely from what witnesses and family members of those arrested, interviewed by Modesto Anarcho, have put forth. According to the police, chasing the person they believed to be the shooter led them to a home on the 900 block of Rouse Avenue, where they arrested a young man, Anthony Nunez. The police claim that Anthony was the driver of the car that was responsible for the drive-by shooting. Cops say that when they arrived, Greg Woody, boyfriend of Anthony's mother, Kenny Nunez, was found 'cleaning finger prints off of the firearm.' Greg was arrested on parole violations and felony possession of a firearm, while Anthony was arrested on felony discharge of a weapon and a host of other crimes.
"An open-and-shut case," the police tell us. "Police departments converged in a low-income neighborhood, torn apart by gang violence, where the police are the only thing protecting the good citizens from sadistic violence." The media repeats verbatim the cops' story. White, middle-class citizens reading the news see photos of young Mexican-American youth arrested and think the streets are much safer. After all, the police wouldn’t lie and the newspaper never fibs, right?
According to the family and neighbors of Anthony and Greg, what actually happened on March 5th, a day that has completely changed this family's lives forever, was very different – and much more terrifying, than the story put out by the police and the Modesto Bee.
Greg and Anthony's family, who pride themselves on getting their kids to and from school every day and on their work in the contracting business, were relaxing on a Monday evening when they heard gun shots. They became aware of the gravity of the situation as they saw two young men running through their yard. The family's neighbor then alerted them that one of the runners had dropped a hand gun in their yard. Greg, a contractor who was only a few days away from getting off parole on a DUI charge, didn’t want a gun in his yard nor want it around children and went to go get the handgun while his girlfriend, Kenny Nunez and her two boys, Anthony and Thomas, waved the police over to the house, thinking that they could hand them the gun and get on with their evening. When police quickly arrived to the scene however, the families’ dogs began barking and one even jumped over the fence to meet the cops head on. Police then began firing on the dog with rubber bullets while Kenny attempted to get the dog back inside the gate without being shot herself.
Anthony was then arrested by police and put into a cop car. Kenny said that she wanted to speak with him before he was taken anywhere or interviewed by police. She also explained to the police over and over again that all of her children were inside the house with her and had not left the house since they returned home from school - and that they were not involved with the shooting. Police insisted that Anthony was the driver of the car that was involved in the drive-by shooting and told Kenny they were going to take him in for questioning. It should be noted that neither of Kenny’s twins know how to drive, or have drivers' licenses (they are both are 17). By this point, the police had entered and ransacked the house looking for evidence connecting the family to the shooting. They found nothing.
Although police told Kenny that they would not question or leave with Anthony before talking to her, they proceeded to shut the cop car doors and drive off, with Anthony on his way to the Modesto Police Station and then Juvenile Hall.
Anthony’s family was then left to survey the destruction that the police had left. Two of their dogs had been shot with rubber bullets. Several of the windows of their home had been broken out. They also found several burn marks on the ground which they believe to be the remnants of flash or smoke grenades (before the police left, they were reminding each other to ‘pick up the canisters.’)
Almost two weeks have passed since the arrest of Greg and Anthony, and both remain in custody. Greg, although his charges have been dropped, is waiting to finish with the parole board and be released. Anthony faces multiple felony charges, even though police have tested (swabbed) him for gunpowder residue, and the results have come up negative. After the arrest, Kenny and a neighbor who witnessed the event visited the Modesto Police station in an attempt to explain that the men they saw running did not include, nor look anything like Anthony. Despite eye-witnesses' and Anthony's family's testimony, the police are sure that they have their man.
This case makes several things very clear. First and foremost, the role of the police in our communities is not to keep us safe, nor are they here to protect us from a dangerous criminal element. When members of Greg and Anthony’s family attempted to flag down police, they did this with the belief that they could peacefully and without incident, give the cops the weapon that had landed in their yard. Instead, they were arrested and treated, as if they were the shooters themselves. To the police, everyone on the street was a potential suspect and target. This is the same mentality that we see in the repeated killings and massacres of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq by US soldiers – and it’s no surprise, for they both serve the ultimate goal of repression.
When police realized that they allowed the real shooters to escape, they needed to save face and had to take someone in. The goal of the police that day and in all interactions with the public, is not to make people safe, or ‘bring to justice’ to those that hurt or transgress others. It is simply to preserve the present social order and repress the population.
Lastly, is should be pointed out that situations like these are exactly the kinds in which police shoot and murder people in cold-blood. An unarmed Oscar Grant is shot and killed as he lays face down after a fight at a BART station breaks out in the East Bay. Alberto Sepulveda, age 11, is shot and killed in Modesto during a raid by police looking for drugs, while he lies on his stomach. Sammy Galvan is shot and killed in Modesto while cooking food at his mother’s house after police respond to a domestic call and later claim he tried to attack them with a knife. Francisco Moran is shot and killed by Modesto Police in East Modesto after he ‘reaches for a knife,’ which turns out to be a spatula. Rita Elias is shot and killed by an off-duty Sheriff in West Modesto who is attempting to evict Rita to help out her landlord parents. But it is not just the outright murder which is designed to terrify the people that the police supress, but the very threat that at any moment police can, and do, kill at will.
|Disruption of Modesto PD meeting.|
Incidents like what happened on March 5th are terrifying, but they also represent a very real chance for us to get organized and come together as neighbors and as people disgusted with police terror. We can start to see the police for what they are and what they represent and begin to organize ourselves to solve our own problems. We can make our own media and share our own stories so we don’t have to rely on those that work for the cops. Above all, we have to come together to support those that have been targeted by the police and get them out of jail and back into our arms.