Photo: April 21 vigil for Mario Gonzalez, killed by Alameda police. Credit: Liberation photo by Rosa Astra
Friends, family, and hundreds of supporters from the community gathered in a vigil for Mario Gonzalez April 21 in Alameda. Gonzalez, described by his family and friends as a loving father, partner, son, and caretaker for his younger brother, was killed by the Alameda Police Department on April 19.
Gonzalez’s friends and family set up a memorial in a small park on Oak Street with flowers in glass vases, candles, photos of Gonzalez and his family, and signs demanding justice.
The Alameda Police Department issued a press release uncannily similar to the one issued last year by the Minneapolis Police Department immediately after murdering George Floyd. It claimed Gonzalez “had a medical emergency” during a “physical altercation” while they were attempting to arrest him. The press release contains suspiciously little detail about how Gonzalez actually died, and the department has so far refused to release the footage from officers’ body cameras. They have refused to return Gonzalez’s body to his grieving family.
Gonzalez’s brother Jerry Gonzalez stated at the vigil: “What they are saying does not make sense. Mario did not die of medical complications because he was healthy and had no medical conditions. We know that there was no scuffle because Mario was not a violent person. We need answers and we can not trust their version of the story.”
Jerry Gonzalez lives in North Carolina, and was in town this weekend for their mother’s birthday. “Now I’ve got to stay here and fight until we get justice for my brother.”
George Galvis, a supporter of the family and co-founder of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, warned those gathered at the vigil against the smear campaign APD is already running. “We already know they’re going to try to dehumanize him. They’ve done it before and they’ll do it again.”
Galvis went on to say: “Bottom line is there’s no reforming this. The roots of policing in this country are rooted in the slave patrols. It’s all about the subordination of African people and Indigenous people to maintain white supremacy. How do you reform that?”
Cat Brooks, co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project, also spoke in support of the family and emphasized how justice for Mario Gonzalez will be won. “I want us to use the power of the streets, because that’s what got us that verdict in Minneapolis, the people in the streets! We’ve got to know the power of the people in the streets!”
Jerry Gonzalez emphasized this point as well: “We don’t need condolences — we need people ready to fight.”
The family’s immediate demands include: the release of Mario’s body to the family so they can have an independent autopsy and lay him to rest; the release of all available audio and video, including the footage from the body cameras; the release of the records and names of the officers involved as required by California law SB 1421; and an independent investigation into the killing of Mario Gonzalez.
The family asks supporters to use the hashtag #JusticeForMario on social media and follow @justice4mariogonzalez on Instagram. The family has also organized a GoFundMe.