At an October 1 press conference in front of Salinas City Hall, family members of Frank Alvarado reacted to the Salinas Police Department’s release of names of officers who shot and killed four Salinas residents in separate incidents this year — all four were Latino men in East Salinas.
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.
Bonetti was satisfied that on September 30, the Salinas Police Department decided to finally release the names. But on the other hand, she stated that the delay was never justifiable in the first place. Bonetti read the so-called threats presented by SPD against their officers and responded that, “Any officer on any day is going to go out on the street and encounter a population who may not like police officers. You can’t do away with that. But, anyone who becomes an officer believing that their life is not going to be a threat [threatened] every time they step out the door, then they are in the wrong profession.”
Other key points discussed at the press conference included a call for additional transparency of officers’ records, a US Department of Justice investigation, a police over site committee, dash cameras in police cars, and the selection of police body cameras.
In a letter to the press that morning, Bonetti explained:
For the past several months the families of Carlos Mejia and Frank Alvarado thru their attorney John Burris have sought the release of names, of those involved in the questionable deaths of their loved ones at the hands of Salinas Police Officers. The same had been requested by several local media outlets. Despite a Supreme Court ruling shortly afterward in favor of public transparency, no names were forthcoming until now.
This has fueled distrust in a community which is 76% Latino. Additionally the families have requested an investigation by the Department of Justice Special Litigation Unit regarding patterns of discriminatory practice within the Salinas Police Department. If the City of Salinas is to move forward and establish trust by all parties, then we must build that foundation on Transparency.
Frank Alvarado’s sister Angelica Garza said that in memory of her bother, she will continue to fight for justice. Frank was “trying to make a difference for those incarcerated, with the group Sin Barras.”
Frank Alvarado Sr. also spoke at the press conference. He is the father of Frank Alvarado who was shot and killed on July 10, 2014 by Brian Johnson and Scott Sutton of the Salinas Police Department, according to the Salinas City Attorney and Police Chief Kelly McMillin. Frank Sr. spoke out against the local ‘PAL Program’ through personal testimony, explaining that the Salinas Police Activities League is nothing more than a farce for the SPD to disingenuously claim they’ve done something to benefit the community.
Frank Alvarado Sr. stated, “Now they opened the PAL Program. They want to cover up. I worked for the PAL Program. I was Coach of the Year for three or four years. There’s nothing but community work. We are volunteers without pay, and they get paid to go and take the kids out of town all the time. They want to say they do something good. Well let’s do something good.”
For many more details on the October 1, 2014 press conference at Salinas City Hall, please view the photos and listen to the audio recordings which accompany this article.
For further information, please see:
- Protesters Confront Salinas Police Chief at Bookstore Appearance in Santa Cruz (August 2014)
- Protests in East Salinas Resume Following Fourth Police Killing (July 2014)
- Police Officers Kill Fourth Person in East Salinas: Frank Alvarado (July 2014)
- Peace Police and Counterinsurgency in Salinas (May 2014)
- Families, Residents and Statewide Supporters Fight for Justice in Salinas (May 2014)
- Anti-Police Signs Not Allowed at Salinas March Against Police Brutality (May 2014)
- Salinas Police Kill Three People in Last Three Months (May 2014)
- Frank Alvarado and Sin Barras Rally at Santa Cruz Courthouse to Fight Prison Expansion (May 2014)