The people of Sacramento have joined the thousands across the country in demanding justice for Mike Brown. Since the announcement from the St. Louis grand jury refusing to bring charges against killer cop Darren Wilson, people throughout Sacramento have taken to the streets in outrage. The past week in Sacramento has been described as a week of solidarity for Mike Brown, and a week of resistance to the racist police force.
Immediately following the announcement, people gathered at Florin Road and 65th Street, a busy intersection in South Sacramento. The people carried homemade signs, including some that read “Justice For Mike Brown,” “Jail Killer Cops,” and “Black Lives Matter.” The diverse crowd of young and old, Black and Brown protesters reflected the mostly non-white population of South Sacramento.
The anger of the protesters could be felt by all those passing by, from those in their cars to residents on the street. The anger of the protesters led them to block Florin Road traffic and then the nearby northbound Freeway 99. It eventually culminated in a standoff with the racist police (all but one who were white) for more than an hour, at the end of which the cops retreated.
Despite the fact that Mike Brown lived halfway across the country from Sacramento, and that the protesters never personally knew him, the people’s passion was as if he was one of their own. This is understandably so because the working-class people of color who live in South Sacramento are harassed by local law enforcement on a regular basis. Mike Brown’s killing represents all the incidents of police brutality and racial profiling that go on without justice in South Sacramento in epidemic proportions.
Two days following the South Sac protest, a march was called at Alhambra and Broadway in north Oak Park. The historical suburb of Oak Park was the first, and for a long time the only, desegregated suburb of Sacramento. The neighborhood has been home to the working-class Black, Brown, and Asian people of Sacramento since 1889. Oak Park was the founding place of the Sacramento Black Panthers and housed their office for 10 years. Rebellions against the racist system have thus been common in Oak Park. It is no wonder then that the justice for Mike Brown protest received such a strong welcome.
People left their homes to join the passing protest, which had become a march and was winding through the neighborhood streets. Passing cars honked their horns in support. A pizza delivery man from the nearby Round Table delivered a pizza free to the protesters. All of the positive support from the community is a reflection that this movement has become accepted by a large portion of this country’s working class. The justice for Mike Brown and Ferguson solidarity protests have effectively become a nationwide mass movement—which is the most dangerous to the racist system of domination.
Two days following the Oak Park march and demonstration, protesters took their fight to the large and rich Arden Mall in East Sacramento. This action was called specifically to coincide with Black Friday, a day that represents a mad frenzy of consumerism to benefit the gigantic corporations. As protesters gathered in front of the mall, they effectively disrupted Black Friday shopping as the police were forced to lock the doors of the mall.
The protesters purposely took the demonstrations to the mall because it is representative of the system of consumerism, big business and capitalism that perpetuates police repression and brutality. Protesters pointed out that the function of police in this society is only to protect the property of the rich and the corporations, not to protect the lives of the common people.
The police, who had assembled hours before the protest was to begin in fear that Black Friday would be disrupted, eventually responded with violence as expected. The cops condemned the peaceful protesters as an unlawful assembly and ordered them to disperse under threat of arrest. As the protesters tried to evade the police and their horses, which were being used as weapons to push people back, the police rapidly escalated their repression by assaulting people. The police threw young defenseless people against cars and then to the cement. The police jumped onto the backs of the people and swarmed around five different protesters tazering at least one and arresting all five.
These demonstrations were initiated by the ANSWER Coalition and the California Campaign to End Police Terror. Many organizations supported the demonstrations, including the Zapatista Solidarity Coalition, the Brown Berets de Sacramento, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and MEChA de Sac State. These protests will continue in Sacramento as long as Mike Brown and his family are denied the justice that they are due. Sacramentons have vowed to continue to organize against police brutality as long as police repression, racial profiling and mass incarceration remain the norm. Now is the time for the people of Sacramento to raise their voices in anger and stand up against racist police brutality!