From Arden to Del Paso Heights to North Highlands, North Sacramento is constantly targeted by law enforcement with over-policing and underdevelopment. Police terror is the obvious consequence of decades of official city and county policies of neglect and oppression.
The fact is that from the Heights to the Highlands, the streets are not unsafe because of the people living and struggling there, they are unsafe because of the police and the 1% they represent. While the media points to street gangs as the source of violent crime, they always fail to address the origins of these gangs. Before they were dedicated to generating personal revenue, many of these organizations were committed to making their communities a better place. Following years of COINTELPRO policies and the growth of a system of mass incarceration, formerly revolutionary organizations fighting for liberation have become gangs fighting for territory and money while preying on their own communities. But if gangs are a problem, education, jobs, and opportunity are the solution, not prisons. Thus, the real source of violent crime is government policies that criminalize youth and deny working families the resources they need to survive. In addition to repression that targets anyone trying to change the conditions of these neighborhoods, it is no wonder that North Sacramento is facing such trying times.
This year alone has seen numerous cases of abuse. Although police misconduct is much more common than is reported in the media, video footage helps bring this brutality to a wider audience. On April 10, Nandi Cain Jr. had just gotten off work and was walking on Grand Ave. in Del Paso Heights when he crossed the street. An officer then began yelling at him and demanding that he stop. After asking why he needed to stop and being told incorrectly that he was jaywalking, Cain tried to keep walking. The officer then confronted him and eventually took him down by the throat and proceeded to punch him in the face several times before arresting him. As if this was not enough, Cain reported that while in jail he faced further harassment and mistreatment by guards. This is just one of many cases of terrorism against Black youth that the city of Sacramento is notorious for.
Most recently, on May 5, Ryan Ellis was visiting his Aunt in North Highlands when police came and arrested him for violating a restraining order filed by his ex-wife who lived several blocks away. What the police claim happened is hard to take as anything but a complete fabrication. The Sacramento Sheriff’s Department claims that Ellis, while handcuffed in the back of the car and driving down Watt Ave. at 40 mph, somehow turned, kicked the back window out, and threw himself head first out of the car to his death while sustaining no injuries to his lower body. How all of this could have happened without officers noticing has many questioning their version of events that seems to change each time it is told.
On May 11, around 50 people gathered at the corner of Arden and Del Paso Blvd. with members of the Ellis family to stand in solidarity against this vicious police murder and demand real answers to what happened to Ryan Ellis. Liberation News spoke to Ellis’ father who expressed his disbelief in the story provided by the authorities and pledged that he would continue the fight until his son received justice.
The struggle against racist police terror is intensifying in Sacramento as gentrification makes its way North and the displacement of working class communities continues. The intended effect of police brutality is to
terrorize the community into inaction and hopelessness. We must meet this oppression with resistance in the form of organization, mobilization and the growth of revolutionary consciousness. The Party for Socialism and Liberation is committed to building this resistance alongside the community.