The Party for Socialism and Liberation condemns unconditionally the LAPD for the murder of Manuel Jamines, a Guatemalan immigrant day laborer and father. We send our sincere condolences to his family, neighbors and friends.
The LAPD claims it was called to the scene on Sunday, Sept. 5 because Jamines was allegedly drunk in public and had a knife. The LAPD is highly trained in “non-lethal” tactics, yet their first response was to shoot Jamines twice in the head. While the police version of events is in question—some witnesses said Jamines had no knife at all—there is no question that Jamines did not deserve to die. The cops killed Jamines on a busy street corner in the immigrant Westlake neighborhood near downtown Los Angeles.
The killing ignited a firestorm of justified anger in the Guatemalan immigrant community. As hundreds protested the killing on two successive nights, cops beat and arrested over 20 people and fired rubber bullets indiscriminately, leaving many bloodied on the ground. The LAPD, along with the LA Times, tried to blame the protesters for the police violence against them.
It is the same argument that LAPD brass and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made after Jamines was killed—they said that his death was somehow his fault. They presented the facts as though the cops had no choice but to shoot him at close range. This is what they are still saying, although, in a clear response to the community uprising, now the top cops and politicians are emphasizing the need for a “thorough investigation.”
To the police and their media apologists, maximum violence, including murder, is perfectly fine if carried out by the LAPD, but any violence or fight back by oppressed people is an obvious crime. This false view turns reality on its head. The Guatemalan community did not buy it for a moment.
Organize and fight back
Last night, Sept. 8, the LAPD held a “town hall” meeting. It did not go as the police planned. It was a clear effort to pacify the community anger. But LAPD Chief Charlie Beck was booed loudly by the crowd of 300 community members. He was forced to stop speaking several times as people yelled “justice” and called the police “assassins” and “killers” in Spanish. The Associated Press and other major media outlets covered the meeting.
PSL member and community activist Marcial Guerra spoke at the event (see the photo above), railing at the police for their assassination of Jamines. “You will not quell the anger of our community with your lies and false promises. These racist killings, police raids and attacks on immigrants must end. The officers who assassinated Jamines must be brought to justice now,” Guerra said to massive applause. Other community members spoke out bravely against the cops during the meeting as well.
After the town hall meeting, hundreds of people gathered again where Jamines was killed, and the cops launched another unprovoked attack on the crowd by firing concussion grenades and rioting, chasing people in the now heavily militarized area.
The brutally excessive use of force by the LAPD on oppressed people, like Jamines, is the norm, not the exception. This is the case not only in Los Angeles, but in poor communities across the country. It is not a case of just one or two “bad cops” or the result of “unfortunate mistakes.”
Cops are not in communities to solve problems or protect people. They exist to enforce the exploitation of the poor and protect and preserve the capitalist state. Police brutality is a preferred form of social and economic control in the United States.
The officers responsible for the death of Manuel Jamines should be fired, arrested and held without bail, and tried for murder. This is how anyone else—other than a cop—would be treated by the capitalist state. But this will not happen on its own or after the LAPD’s sham investigation.
In this case, the killer cop is a repeat offender. LAPD officer Frank Hernandez, who killed Jamines, has been put on forced leave twice before for shooting other people. But cops get promoted and rewarded for using deadly force, while their victims get branded as criminals.
The only way there will be justice for Jamines, his family, and the community is if we organize together and demand it. For our part, the PSL will continue to work with the Guatemalan community and grassroots organizations to win this fight.
Stop police violence! Jail killer cops! Justice for Manuel Jamines!