Oakland: Youth-led march honors man who died in police custody

OAKLAND — Under the white-noise drone of hovering helicopters, youth-led groups gathered outside the Fruitvale BART station with colorful signs, chants, poetry and ceremonial dance to honor Mario Gonzalez, 26, who died late last month in Alameda police custody.

Marchers traveled Monday from the station to Alameda police headquarters on foot and by bicycle, as they drew honks of approval from passing motorists and from people who waved and cheered from some businesses’ doors.

On April 19, Gonzalez died soon after several Alameda police officers approached him in a small park near the Park Street business corridor. After community groups called for information and held a vigil, family members saw officers’ body-worn camera footage of his death shortly before its public release. So far, Alameda has appointed an independent investigator of its own, separate from ongoing and parallel investigations by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, while the police department identified the involved officers.

ALAMEDA, CA – MAY 03: People march from the Fruitvale BART station to the Alameda police headquarters during a rally for Mario Gonzalez in Alameda, Calif., on Monday, May, 3 2021. Gonzalez died in custody while being restrained by Alameda police on April 19. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group) 

As the gathering began outside the station, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice co-founder George Galvis reminded others of local activism last year in the wake of police killings of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, and George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“At the same time that we were demanding for justice all the way over there in other parts of the country, we’re dealing with police terrorism right here in our own backyard, right?” Galvis said, naming Sean Monterrosa and Erik Salgado before gesturing at the mural behind him.

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“We know that because you see behind me Oscar Grant. You know, Grant was the first time the officer was ever held accountable, and [BART Police] Officer Mesehrle, he only did seven months.”

Galvis later praised youth leaders who helped to organize Monday’s gathering.

“I think that oftentimes, people talk about the young people being apathetic. This young generation is more conscious, more caring, more politically aware than we ever were at their age,” he said.

“I’m proud of them, and the fact that they’re taking initiative makes me hopeful for the future.”

ALAMEDA, CA – MAY 03: An Aztec dancer burns sage around Mario Gonzalez’s partner Andrea Cortez and their son Mario Jr., 4, during a rally for Gonzalez outside the Alameda police headquarters in Alameda, Calif., on Monday, May, 3 2021. Gonzalez died in custody while being restrained by Alameda police on April 19. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group) 

One co-organizer, Oakland Tech High School senior Emily Ramirez, said the gathering was meant to address a broader scope than a single tragedy: “We stand in solidarity with Mario Gonzalez and his family, and not only Mario Gonzalez, but every single family that has lost a family member or a loved one to police …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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