On Nov. 12, a 19-year-old man named Larry Ruiz-Barreto, who was soon to be father, was slain by a Fall River police officer near the Fall River Industrial Park at the intersection Airport and Riggenbach road in Massachusetts. The murderous regime of police terror in the United States continues unabated.
To date, according to copcrisis.com at least 1,056 people have been murdered by the police. The ANSWER Coalition, of which the Party for Socialism and Liberation is a leading member, has fought for a united people’s movement against police terror to jail all killer cops and win justice and reparations for the families and loved ones affected by this state-sanctioned violence. The PSL and the ANSWER Coalition extend their fullest solidarity with the families and loved ones of Larry Ruiz-Barreto. The police must be held accountable; only a mass based people’s movement can make that happen.
Larry Ruiz-Barreto Presente!
Nineteen-year old Larry Ruiz-Barreto was an expecting father and would have been married next month. The fiancée of Larry, Jaylimar Natal, asserted that her partner “loved cars and was showing off his new car” when he was killed.
Natal also said that “every morning he would kiss my belly before he kissed me…” and “he’d always told me, ‘I want a little girl. I want it to be my princess. I want to show her no matter what, daddy’s always going to be here.”
According to 2014 data from the Public Policy Center, in Fall River “36% of youth live in poverty, and in New Bedford 31.1% of youth live in poverty. The highest poverty rates are among Hispanics (59.7% in Fall River and 39.9% in New Bedford) and single mothers of 3 or 4 children (77.8% in Fall River and 72% in New Bedford). The police, enforcers of racism and capitalism, have condemned Natal and many other women partners of men of color to a life of deep struggle against poverty.
Working families, and particularly mothers, are often left without much, if any, help from the state in overcoming the grief, trauma, and total loss of a family member. We cannot allow the police, who always protect their own, to impose a deeper life of poverty on the family of Natal and the late Ruiz-Barreto. We need solidarity from below to demand justice but also to provide mutual aid to the family and loved ones. Multinational working class solidarity can hold us together as we build a movement of massive people’s action to demand justice and the jailing of all killer cops and their enablers in the state.
DA fails to ID killer cop
The Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn claimed that the unidentified officer shot at a car leaving the scene where there appeared to have been what local residents have described as “a drag race” and a place where “young people go and street race.”
The DA’s office which claimed that they would “conduct a thorough investigation” has not released the officer’s name who killed Ruiz-Barreto. Based upon the history of police terror in this country and the nature of the state, we can rest assured that 1) the police routinely lie and are encouraged to do so; 2) the police only “protect and serve” themselves and the ruling class and 3) the whole damn system is guilty, from the judges, prosecutors, District Attorneys and the police. Cops are indicted in less than 1 percent of killings, but the rate for citizens is a whopping 90 percent.
‘Excessive force’ = ‘Just doing my job’
As we traversed New Bedford and Fall River speaking with people who had heard about the story and were indignant about the killing, they overwhelmingly condemned the use of excessive force against the young man. Even according to the U.S. Department of Justice, 84 percent of police “have witnessed fellow officers using more force than necessary.” So the police overwhelmingly know they are using wanton violence against people but this is no matter of “individual police” or “dumb cops,” but the systemic function and role of the police in a class society.
Relatives have claimed that within two minutes of arriving on the scene, where cars were dispersing, Larry Ruiz-Barreto was dead. Thirty-six year old father of Larry, Demix Ruiz-Hernandez characterized the police as “assassins.” We along with the thousands upon thousands of survivors of police terror and activists for social justice and anti-racism would agree that the police are professional killers — how else could they kill 1,000 people every year and at least one person every 7 hours and regularly get away with it?
It should be common knowledge that the police are the arms of the racist capitalist imperialist state; the use of “excessive force” is in their DNA. The police “just doing their” job is the problem because “their job” is oppression of working class and oppressed people.
Moreover, the police are often exonerated for their crimes against the people from murders, to sexual assault, rape, lying, planting drugs, domestic violence, and intimidating people — especially witnesses and family survivors of police terror. The police are not held to the same standards as everyday working-class people because they are not everyday working-class people. In fact, they are not a part of the working class but enemies of it.
Since their inception as a means of social control on the slave plantations of North America to enforcing racist segregationist Jim Crow laws, to rounding up poor Black and Brown people to throw them into the ever expanding U.S. prison system (the world’s leader in the number of incarcerated people), to the modern day lynching by bullet barrages, the role of the police has been to suppress and control the people not serve the people. It is no wonder why the New England Police Benevolent Association, which hardly ever publicly endorses or supports a presidential candidate, endorsed the vile Donald Trump, who has given the green light to the police nationally to continue to abuse, oppress, and kill people in the U.S.
Family criminalized for wanting justice
To add insult to injury, five family members and loved ones that went to see Larry at the Charlton Memorial Hospital (where he was pronounced dead) were met with more trauma as they were arrested on site for “disorderly conduct” and “disturbing the peace.” Isn’t that something? The family members who came to see the Larry were abused and arrested for expressing their outrage over Larry’s death, while not a single cop involved has been identified. In fact, the officer that shot and killed Larry has been placed on paid leave performing “strictly administrative duty” as The Herald News reports.
The Herald News also reported that “around 2:00 a.m., Fall river police officers Michael Pessoa and Paul Furtado were sent to the Charlton emergency room. Pessoa wrote in his incident report that he was told there were 10 to 15 relatives in the hospital, and they were being disruptive, pointing at police and making “inappropriate comments.” Pessoa also alleged that “several of them began throwing chairs and tables, kicking objects and destroying property.”
So, indignant family members can get arrested and charged faster than a killer cop can because of “destroying property” and rightfully expressing their anger at the clearly unjust death of a young man expecting to be a father. The Herald continues stating that “Demix Ruiz-Hernandez was arrested for allegedly pushing and shoving officers and interfering in arrests. He is also alleged to have made comments about wanting to shoot and kill police. He was charged with resisting arrest, threats to commit a crime, vandalizing property, disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct.”
“Other relatives who were arrested on similar charges include: Jose Ruiz-Hernanez, 42, Miguel Sanchez, 25, Leslie Lugo, 41, and Jonathan Ruiz-Hernandez, 31. All the defendants were released on personal recognizance except for Jose Ruiz-Hernandez, who had his bail revoked for what prosecutors said was a pending assault and battery case in New Bedford. Ruiz-Barreto has no criminal record in New Bedford District Court.”
Essentially, the family of Larry Ruiz-Barreto went to see him and were outraged and righteously rebelled and expressed their anger at the killing of their loved one, but were arrested and charged while the killer cop is on “administrative duty” while a “thorough investigation” is going on. The utter hypocrisy is telling, that the police are protected by a fundamentally unjust system that basically sanctions police lynchings and criminalizes resistance to police terror. The police are becoming more exposed for what they truly are in this class society: thugs and assassins in service of racist capitalist imperialism.
Police terror in New England, Rhode Island
In Rhode Island, the police murdered a man by barraging him with bullets as he sat in his vehicle with a woman. The police claim they were looking for an escaped prisoner. Like a lynch mob on a mission, they executed the driver, who still remains unknown, and the woman passenger was left in critical condition. In the middle of the Interstate 95 in broad daylight for dozens of drivers to see, possibly traumatizing anyone who saw the heinous act, the police fired away leaving a thick cloud of smoke. Neither of the victims are reported to have anything to do with the reported escape of a handcuffed man named Daniel Morgan who allegedly stole a state police cruiser after being left alone in it.
The police clearly were not on the I-95 to subdue Morgan or anyone for that matter. They went open season hunting on two innocent people and have yet to release the names of either victim or the police who fired at the vehicle. We can expect the legal procedure to take their side effectively making the killer cops judge, jury, and executioner despite their acts being caught on camera and the fact that the unidentified victims are innocent people.
This marks two deadly incidents of police terror in one week for New England, popping the liberal bubble that New England is somehow “progressive” and often juxtaposed with Southern racist police terror. But revolutionaries have known, as Malcolm X said to him, “anything below the Canadian border is South.” It is not just a state issue but a nationwide issue caused by capitalism and racial and national oppression.
People’s power can defeat police terror
The police in this country are the bulldogs on very loose leashes of the billionaire ruling class. They have left Jaylimar Natal, an expecting single mother, with no partner and a criminalized extended family after the arrest of Ruiz-Barrteo’s relatives.
The police are not an institution we can reform to serve our interests. They must be dismantled root and branch along with the entire capitalist system. However, such changes will not occur without a broad mass based people’s movement that is determined to win not just justice but power so that these murders and abuses can be finally ended.
The ANSWER Coalition and the Party for Socialism & Liberation stand in full solidarity with the family of Larry Ruiz-Barreto and Jaylimar Natal. Killer cops are endemic to U.S. society and must be jailed. The entire legal structure must be uprooted and a new power rooted equality must be built.
We know that “the whole damn system is guilty as hell” and the police cannot be trusted to “investigate themselves” as the shooting is currently under investigation by the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office, Massachusetts State Police, Fall River Police Department Major Crimes Division, the Fall River Police Crime Scene Unit, and the Office of Professional Standards. We demand that the Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey appoint a independent special prosecutor to try the killer cop that took the life of Larry Ruiz-Barreto.
We demand that the name of the killer cops be revealed as well as his entire police record. We demand punishment to the fullest extent of the law for the unjust murder of Larry Ruiz-Barreto. We demand reparations to be paid to the family of Ruiz-Barreto and Natal who is now without a husband and her soon to be born child is without a father. Given the harsh economic conditions capitalism imposes on Latino people, single mothers, and women of color, the state should see to it that their family is taken care of.
ANSWER Coalition – Boston
Party for Socialism & Liberation – Boston
Justice for Larry Ruiz-Barreto!
Jail All Killer Cops!
People’s Power will Defeat Police Terror!