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Rebellion in LA after Rampart police murder indigenous man

September 26, 2010

by Joaquin Cienfuegos

The cold-blooded murder by Rampart police of a Guatemalan migrant worker, Manuel Jamines, who was fluent only in his native Mayan language and could not have understood police commands, was the last straw for the Pico Union community. The cop, Frank Hernandez, who shot him twice in the head, has at least one previous unjustified shooting on his record and is known in the community as a bully who harasses street vendors, dumping their fruit and vegetables in the trash. – Photo: Los Angeles Times
Manuel Jamines was murdered by Rampart police on Sunday, Sept. 5, 2010. He was a 37-year-old indigenous man from Guatemala, who didn’t speak English or even Spanish very well. He was a day laborer and had three children in Guatemala.

He was standing on the corner of Sixth Street and Union in the Los Angeles community of Pico Union or Westlake. The police claim he had a knife and was intending to use it on a pregnant woman. Many eye witnesses say that this was not true and that Manuel was murdered in cold blood. This is nothing new for LAPD in general and the Rampart Division in particular. We’ve lost too many innocent people at the hands of law enforcement in Los Angeles.

In the Pico Union or Westlake community, the people who live there, who are friends of Manuel, who are from Guatemala, Central America, Mexico and elsewhere, have had enough. They said, “Ya Basta!” They rose up in a rebellion that has lasted two days in the area.

The police provoked them by shooting rubber bullets and tear gas at people, resulting in the uprising. People hurled eggs, rocks, burning dumpsters, televisions and other debris at the police from the streets and buildings. On Tuesday, Sept. 7, the community stormed the Rampart police division to demand justice for Manuel.

Manuel Jamines’ widow, Isabel Marroquin Tambriz, center, is comforted by relatives during the funeral procession to the cemetery after the return of his body from Los Angeles to his native Mayan village of Xexac on the lush slopes of a volcano in Guatemala. “Walijoq caewaj!” “Wake up, my love,” she cried over and over in Quiche, the language spoken there. Her husband was not fluent in either English or Spanish. Villagers are urging her to go to Los Angeles to sue the police, and she vows to fight for justice for the sake of the couple’s three sons, ages 7, 9 and 14. – Photo: Esmeralda Bermudez, Los Angeles Times
Putting this uprising into some historical context, in the Rodney King Rebellion of 1992, the police were quoted saying, “If this was an insurrection, Pico Union would be enemy territory.” It’s a community that has had experience in struggle in many ways.

In 1992 the police arrested more people in that neighborhood than anywhere else. Pico Union has the largest concentration of people from Central America of anywhere outside of Central America.

People come from a first-hand experience of revolution and civil war. They were forced to migrate here because of U.S. imperialism and what it has done to their homelands. So people are still angry at that; then they are made to deal with the Rampart division. The powers that be understand that the Pico Union neo-colony is a threat to them and a ticking time-bomb. They unleash the most brutal police division on the community. Some of this was brought to light during the “Rampart Scandal” in 1999.

Manuel Jamines’ photo was displayed by protesters. – Photo: Cop Watch LA
Rampart police try to lie to the people and say that this is the new and improved division, even though not long ago they also murdered Dontaze Story not far from where Manuel Jamines was murdered. The Guatemalan community was angry and wanted the one responsible handed over to them. They wanted to exert their form of justice, and they got it in the streets. In the indigenous community where Manuel Jamines is from, the people go as far as an eye for an eye. They call this Mayan justice.

Reflecting on the rebellion, as a supporter of the community, I have to say that this was inevitable. This was just the spark that people needed to say enough! Some opportunist organizations and activists might take credit for this, but even they cannot stop it. The community is really tight knit and self-organized.

In my opinion, those activists, supporters and people on the sidelines should try to find ways to be in solidarity with people. They shouldn’t try to be “vanguard leadership” or try to stop them. Those people just need to get out the way of the community. You can’t stop a tsunami. Rebellion is justified!

Joaquin Cienfuegos, a member of Cop Watch Los Angeles, a revolutionary anarcho-communist community organizer and a member of the Scorpion Collective in the People’s Republic of South Central, can be reached at morph3030@yahoo.com. This story first appeared on his blog, at http://joaquincienfuegos.blogspot.com/2010/09/pico-unionwestlake-rebellion-after.html.

2 thoughts on “Rebellion in LA after Rampart police murder indigenous man

  1. vitriolic

    Ramparts pigs are no different from the dumbasses shooting innocent civilians and boasting & laughing (wikiileaks). Humanity means nothing , mans inhumanity to man seems to have risen to sainthood-the training the usa gives to law enforcement , soldiers, mercenaries and slop like blackwater(xe) the pigs in new orleans killing innocent people in the worst tragedy. I think they've been CLONED and will never get their humanity back (if they ever had any). I think they take steroids which is a RAGE that is inhuman, they steal meth, crack, prescription meds from their victims-many of these cases don't go to court because these alleged law enforcement thugs use the drugs they steal; not enough shows up in court because law enforcement is the largest addicts of all! Then they go home beat their wife & kids and start drinking alcohol mixing with all those confisated drugs and ultimatly kill innocent people, including their own families. I'm beginning to think law enforcement are really the gangs & thugs that so many citizens have trouble with! There actions make them untrustworthy, violent beyond imagination. They need to learn to be human again , but that can only happen if they have the desire to join the HUMAN race!

    Reply
  2. John Mulligan

    The officers involved in the incident were Hispanic. Multiple witnesses, also Hispanic, confirmed that the man attacked the officers with a knife. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/09/officer-…. Evidently, Mr. Jamines was a regular drinker. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/09/rel

    You can keep your "indigenous justice." I sincerely doubt that you came to this country for it to become like Guatemala. You came here, in fact, because this country is not Guatemala.

    There is no rebellion. This was just a drunk who got violent with the cops and ended up shot.

    Reply

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