On the night of October 3, 31-year-old Jonathan Price was at a Kwik Chek gas station in his hometown of Wolfe City, Texas when he noticed a domestic dispute between a man and a woman. Being the pillar of the community that he was, Price, a well-known city employee in a town of less than 1,500 people, decided to step in and protect the woman from being abused. Her partner responded by assaulting Price, and police were called to the scene. Once they arrived, Jonathan Price tried to explain what had occurred to Wolfe City Officer Shaun Lucas and even went over to try and shake his hand and ask how he was doing. Lucas responded by taking out his taser and tasering Price. When Price’s body went into convulsions from the taser’s electrical current, Lucas ludicrously deemed Price’s movements a “threat” and shot him four times. Within hours Price was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Almost immediately, the small town, 20 miles from the nearest interstate and 70 miles from Dallas, went into collective mourning and protest. The following day Officer Lucas was placed on “administrative leave.”
Shaun Lucas had been on the force for just six months but had already managed to garner a bad reputation among Wolfe City’s Black population. More than a dozen residents who spoke to the Washington Post described Lucas’ overt harassment of people over the most minor infractions and aggression with Black residents. In the words of one resident, this “new cop” was “the worst cop Wolfe City ever had.”
Texans mobilize against police brutality
The brutal, racist killing of Jonathan Price struck a nerve not only in Wolfe City, but throughout the state of Texas. In Houston, a city rife with police killings of Black people, the Party for Socialism and Liberation organized both a vigil for Jonathan Price and a protest against police brutality at the Houston Police Department. On Oct. 10, protesters gathered in downtown Houston and marched to HPD headquarters chanting “Indict, convict, send that killer cop to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell,” “Protect and serve? That’s a lie! You don’t care when people die!” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho. Racist cops have got to go!”
In front of the police station, speakers took to the megaphone to denounce rampant police brutality in Texas, Jonathan Price’s murder, and the recent increase of HPD’s budget to nearly $1 billion (more than the fire department, health department, housing and community development combined). PSL organizer Ori spoke about the role of the police in rounding up bodies to fuel the prison industry.
“We cannot talk about police brutality without tackling the reality of the prison industrial complex,” said Ori. “The 13th amendment does not abolish slavery; it changes the framework in which it is allowed. There are 2.3 million in prison in the United States, mostly Black and Brown people. These people are cash cows for the ruling class. The labor of 2.3 million people is stolen and used for profit.”
Movement secures arrest of killer cop
On October 6, something seemingly impossible happened. Officer Shaun Lucas was arrested and charged with the murder of Jonathan Price, with bond set at $1 million. While it remains to be seen if there will be a conviction, there can be no doubt that this arrest and charge would not have been possible had it not been for the sustained uprising against racism and police brutality and for Black liberation in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing in May. It is only through the direct action of the people taking to the streets that the system feels pressured to concede to the demand to jail killer cops.
Justice for Jonathan Price and all victims of racist police terror!