Jul 18, 2005
Barely a month passes without some L.A. cops gunning down innocent people in a poor, working-class neighborhood – only to walk away with impunity, with the full protection of their bosses.
Could it get any worse? It actually did. The cops did run amok again. This time their victim was Suzie Lopez, an 18-MONTH-OLD girl from Watts!
The cops are now trying to justify this terrible crime by blaming it squarely on the girl's father, Jose Raul Pena. Suzie and Pena were killed by a SWAT team after a two-and-a-half-hour standoff. The cops say Pena had a history of violence and abuse, including child abuse. They say he was armed and on drugs during the standoff. They say he had been randomly shooting in the street, and he was using his daughter as a hostage. They say they had no choice but raid the car dealership Pena and his daughter were trapped in.
Everything the cops say about Pena may be true. But that still doesn't mean they had no choice!
They DID have a choice. Suzie's mother, who obviously knew Pena better than the cops, had talked to Pena on the phone and was pleading with the cops not to shoot. The cops knew Pena was alone with Suzie in the dealership, surrounded by dozens of cops. They had already waited two and a half hours; they could have waited longer, however long it took. If they didn't wait, it means they had no concern for the baby girl's life.
A reckless driver who hits and kills someone is charged with second-degree murder, or at least manslaughter. These reckless cops who killed a baby girl in cold blood, however, got patted on the back instead!
Only hours after the shooting, LAPD chief William Bratton was in front of the cameras, conveying his sympathies ... not with the baby girl's family, but with her murderers!
And who was lined up behind him, rushing to defend the trigger-happy cops, saying they "didn't want this to happen"? None other than Antonio Villaraigosa – L.A.'s new mayor who ran his election campaign claiming that he understands the people because he grew up in a working-class, Hispanic family himself!
Since the shooting on July 11, Watts residents have been coming out practically every evening to protest the murders. It sure has happened before, and more than once, that people's outrage over police brutality has triggered big protests. In any event, it is only at times of large, sustained protest that brutal cops have faced any kind of discipline, and that people in poor, working-class neighborhoods have seen any easing of the police brutality that they are subjected to on a daily basis.