Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Filipino-American Youth Denounce Police Brutality, Demand Jutice for Oscar Grant!!!

For Immediate Release January 14,, 2009

Reference: Armael Malinis, Chair Anak Bayan East Bay, email: 510.759.6540


Anakbayan chapters nationwide express our solidarity with the family and friends of Oscar Grant in their struggle for justice. We strongly condemn this escalating trend of systemic racial profiling and police brutality that too often results in murder.

Oscar Grant and three other young men were snatched off the BART train on the Fruitvale Station in Oakland, California on January 1, 2009. They were sitting against the wall when officers pressed Grant face and belly down on the floor. Then, officer Johannes Mehserle stood up and drew his firearm and shot Oscar Grant in the back, execution style right in front of train passengers. The incident was captured by BART passengers from their cell phone cameras and has been circulated around the internet for thousands to view. A week passed and Mehserle remained unaccountable to the City of Oakland and Bart officials for the heinous murder of Oscar Grant. This incident indicates how these ill-trained police officers, unfit to serve and protect the people, go on a rampage with impunity. Oscar Grant is not alone. Countless more people of color have been brutalized or murdered by the police force across the country in a decades long government attempt to maintain state power by dividing and violently repressing the efforts of people of color to survive and organize.

In 2007 in Oakland, CA, three Southeast Asian youth were wrongfully accused of murder in the nearby city of Alameda, CA. The police terrorized the entire Southeast Asian Oakland community by pulling high school students out of schools without parents consent and bringing in SWAT teams with automatic rifles looking for suspects at a youth leadership meeting. The Alameda Police Department wrongfully classified the 3 youth as gang members for dressing in black to mourn the death of soldiers during an anti-war mobilization from the student's myspace page. On Feb 5, 2007 in San Jose, CA, eight police officers participated in the beating of Marlo Custodio, an 18 year old Filipino student, while two other officers observed and did not interfere. Marlo Custodio was a senior at Evergreen Valley High School, who was very involved in his community and school programs.

In Seattle, there has been increasing amounts of police brutality towards youth leading to several investigations into the police department. One such case was the shooting of an unarmed 13-year old Filipino youth in October 2007, mistaking a cell phone for a weapon. Many other cases exist of excessive force by plain-clothes police who do not identify themselves and physically attack suspected gang members. Several of these cases were recorded by cell phones or cameras exonerating the victims of any wrongdoing and showing the brutal and dehumanizing tactics of the Seattle PD.

In New York and New Jersey, Alan Alda, an Anakbayan member was arrested and detained by Jersey City police after seeking their help against an erring cab driver on February 18, 2006. Just a few months later, on November 25, 2006, the horrific murder of Sean Bell happened. The unarmed Bell was shot fifty times by plainclothes and undercover NYPD officers on the day of his wedding. Also, on January 11, 2009, with the huge protests against the unjust invasion of Palestine by the US-backed Israel, 120 pro-Palestinian demonstrators were brutally arrested.

We recognize police brutality as the domestic manifestation of the U.S.-led wars throughout the third world perpetrated against the vast majority of people in an effort to maintain U.S. imperialism. Police and military violence against innocent youth has plagued the Philippines from the dawn of the 70's through the present time under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. As the state-sponsored terrorism was escalating in the 1960's and 70's, the youth responded with massive street movements that broke the climate of fear instilled by the Marcos regime. This huge protest movement became known as the First Quarter Storm. This set the stage for EDSA People Power in 1986 which ousted Marcos and showed the collective strength of the youth together with the basic sectors of society. From 2001-2008, 18 youth leaders of Anakbayan and the League of Filipino Students in the Philippines have been gunned down just for exercising their right to speak out against the human rights abuses of the U.S.-backed and U.S. taxpayer funded Arroyo regime. Despite the terroristic tactics employed by the state, the youth refuse to be silenced and continue fighting for justice to this day.

Now, more than ever, the collective strength of the youth is beckoned once again. In a time of great economic depression, proliferation of fear and injustice, and heightened levels of state repression, the youth need to come together, flex our power, expose state attacks on our human rights and demand accountability of the police force to the people.




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