The Party for Socialism and Liberation unequivocally condemns the L.A. Police Commission’s findings that LAPD officer Frank Hernandez “acted lawfully” when he killed Guatemalan Day Laborer, Manuel Jamines. The Commission announced its findings on March 15, 2011, just over six months after Jamines was gunned down.
This whole case has been a whitewash: from the shameful “town hall” given by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck in September, when he first blamed Jamines for his own death, to the rubber-stamp findings of the Police Commission. No matter how you look at it, justice has not been served. How can it ever be “lawful” to kill someone in cold blood?
In a press conference supporting the findings, Chief Beck, standing next to L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, added fuel to the fire. Beck said, “Officers have an obligation to protect people and protect themselves. They don’t get to tie and they certainly don’t get to lose.”
But working and poor people, especially people of color, are always expected to “lose.” Lose lives and livelihoods at the hands of the police; lose fathers, brothers, sisters and mothers to prison; and so many other abuses.
Officer Hernandez did not, in fact, “act properly.” He killed an immigrant man, a day laborer, without cause or concern for his or the community’s well-being. Hernandez is well-known in the Westlake community for harassing street vendors and residents of the neighborhood.
The PSL will be in the streets with other community organizations and individuals to demand justice. We will continue to vigorously demand that Hernandez be fired, charged and, ultimately, tried for killing Jamines. After Jamines was killed, the PSL and its partners in the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) joined with many organizations and community members on the streets in protest. The Westlake neighborhood rebelled against the police-perpetrated crime, and marches of many hundreds challenged the LAPD and its apologists in City Hall.
Community resident and organizer, Juan Vasquez, told Liberation after the Police Commission findings were announced: “Our communities are fed up. The LAPD has not changed. Immigrants were beaten in MacArthur Park on May 1, 2007, and our brother Manuel Jamines was gunned down in September last year just blocks away. Now, they want us to accept the findings of the Police Commission that blame the victim. This is an outrage. Instead of police repression, we demand community control over the police in our neighborhoods. The police will never change unless we organize and put a stop to their violence.”