The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

El Monte Killings:
Result of a Failed System

Jul 18, 2022

On June 14, 2022, police responded to a domestic violence call at a hotel in El Monte, CA, where Justin Flores had stabbed his wife. When the El Monte police arrived, Flores’s wife told the cops not to come in because Flores had a gun. But “they did anyway,” Flores’s wife later said. As the cops came in, Flores shot and killed both El Monte Police Officer Joseph Santana and his training officer, Corporal Michael Paredes, before being killed by other police.

Following the shootings, there were police spokespersons, media outlets, and politicians who immediately blamed L.A. County District Attorney (DA) George Gascon for being “soft on crime.” Gascon had accepted a plea deal for Flores in 2021, when Flores was arrested for possessing an unregistered gun and methamphetamines. The DA had allowed Flores to serve 20 days in jail, followed by two years on probation.

The probation department, severely underfunded and understaffed, then had minimal contact with Flores once he was released. Flores did not physically meet with his probation officer (PO) in over six months. During that time, Flores began to spiral out of control. In March 2022, Flores’ own mother called his PO (probation officer), begging him to have her son placed in rehab because he was on drugs again. The PO told the mother that nothing could be done until Flores committed a violation.

Finally, on June 7, Flores violated his probation by hitting his wife. But his PO’s only response was to schedule a hearing with Flores on June 27.

So, Flores got no help. His wife told reporters the day of the killings, “The guy who killed, who died here today, that wasn’t my husband; that was a monster that I didn’t know.” In this society, based on profit for the rich, there is little or no help for working people and the poor with drug addiction and mental illnesses. Instead, the police offer them only two terrible choices: prison or death.