by Dave Welsh
Vallejo, Calif. – It was late evening Feb. 9 when local rapper Willie McCoy, 20, drove into the Taco Bell drive-through. A few minutes later he was found “slumped over the steering wheel of his car, unconscious,” according to a claim filed against the city by McCoy’s family.
The wrongful death claim, filed as a precursor to a lawsuit, said police arrived and “unleashed a barrage of gunfire on the young man. The six-person firing squad shot Mr. McCoy approximately 25 times,” striking him in the head, ear, neck, chest, arms, shoulders, hands and back. Police later claimed they saw a handgun next to the sleeping McCoy.
“They shot him to pieces,” civil rights attorney John Burris told a press conference and rally on the steps of City Hall Feb. 27. “Something is rotten in the Vallejo Police Department,” including a “lack of concern and lack of caring for human life,” he told the crowd of 50 who showed up to support the family. The community has also mourned the Vallejo police killings of Angel Rico Ramos, Ronell Foster and Mario Romero in recent years.
McCoy’s sister, Simone Richard, was unsparing in denouncing the Vallejo PD. “You all executed my brother Willie. It is kids today they are killing. They say the kids are the future, but you aren’t letting us grow. You are targeting us. This isn’t the first incident. This isn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last time.”
A cousin of McCoy’s read a poem she had written recalling the history of lynching in the U.S. “Now they shoot at us,” she read. “If we get pulled over, we might not make it till tomorrow. Is this their way of population control?”
Another friend from Vallejo said, “My friend was shot over 25 times – for no reason. They came out like they was prepared to kill him. They came out to create a situation that will leave our hearts broken for eternity.”
Several teenaged girls chanted, “25 shots from the racist cops” and “Indict! Convict! Send these killer cops to jail!”
Vallejo is a small river city about 30 miles from San Francisco. Willie McCoy, an African American, performed rap music under the name “Willie Bo.”
Dave Welsh, a writer, a delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council and a retired letter carrier, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article originally appeared in Workers World newspaper www.workers.org.