The press conference was coordinated by Margaret Serna Bonetti, a civil and human rights activist in Salinas advocating on behalf of the families of Carlos Mejia and Frank Alvarado. Bonetti, who stated she is not being paid for her advocacy, serves as a link between the families and Oakland-based attorney John Burris. On behalf of the Mejia and Alvarado families, Burris asked the US Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in July to investigate incidents and patterns of police brutality by SPD.
The demonstration began around noon at the base of The César E. Chávez Monument: Arch of Dignity, Equality and Justice designed by Judith F. Baca in the bustling quad outside the student union building.
Students spoke loud and clear about the murder of Mike Brown, the history of racist policing in Ferguson, institutional racism within San José State University, and the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
In addition to organizing demonstrations, students created and distributed a zine on the Fight for Ferguson at San José State University. Text from the zine is published below.
On July 10, 2014 at around 5 AM, officers with the Salinas Police Department reportedly shot and killed Frank Alvarado at a private home in East Salinas. Frank was a member of Santa Cruz-based Sin Barras and spoke out against prison expansion at a rally in Santa Cruz on May 14. His killing was at least the fourth murder by Salinas Police Department cops since March 21, 2014. All four police killings have been of Latino men, and all have occurred in East Salinas.
At the May 14, 2014 rally in Santa Cruz, Frank spoke passionately about the need to budget state money for social programs instead of prison expansion. Frank also shared his personal experience of incarceration, and described his release from prison in July of 2013. He cautioned that building more prisons at the sacrifice of schools and parks will lead to devastating results for California. “You will have your hell if you build those prisons,” he said.
Text via Sin Barras
Photos by Bradley Allen
On July 8, 2014, allies across the state participated in rolling hunger strikes and held local actions. In Santa Cruz, we gathered at the intersection of Water & Pacific Ave. to make these struggles against torture and criminalization visible!
July 8, 2013 is a day we remember to never forget the torture the state of California willingly inflicts on human lives. On that day, 30,000 prisoners followed the lead of their fellow prisoners locked in solitary confinement and refused to eat. By one account, close to 100 people went without eating for 59 days before agreeing to eat in exchange for serious concessions from the California Department of Corrections.