As a prelude to another event next week, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and the Revolution Club hosted a “speak-out” event Tuesday at the UC Berkeley Multicultural Community Center to call for an end to police brutality.
The event, which drew about 40 people, hosted an array of speakers, most of whom were family members of individuals who had been killed by police. The event’s organizers were not affiliated with the campus.
“It’s not every day that you get to hear from people who experienced the horrors of losing a loved one to … police,” said Rafael Malik, one of the organizers of the event.
Malik cited statistics on the incarceration of black Americans. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the United States incarcerates 25 percent of the global imprisoned population, despite Americans making up 5 percent of the world’s population. Thirty-seven percent of those incarcerated in the United States in 2013 were black, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
“This is shocking, this is horrifying, and this should be a wake-up call for everyone,” Malik said.
Laurie Valdez described the death of her partner Antonio Guzman Lopez, who was killed by San Jose State University police in February. Police alleged that Lopez had charged at them. According to Valdez, officers put Lopez in handcuffs after he had been shot.
“I can’t bring him back, but what I can do is fight,” Valdez said at the event.
Angela Naggie, mother of O’Shaine Evans — a 26-year-old who was killed by a San Francisco Police Department officer in October — also spoke at the event. Evans was shot by an officer who alleged that he pointed a gun at police.
“When it rains, that’s my son’s blood washing on San Francisco,” she said.
Jonathan Verdugo, co-executive director of UC Berkeley’s Latino Pre-Law Society, said there is a lack of respect for the lives of minority individuals.
“How do I tell my 7-year-old son that because of the color of his skin, because of his last name, he will be at an inherent disadvantage for the rest of his life?” he said at the event.
In December, there were demonstrations in Berkeley over grand jury decisions not to indict police officers involved in the killings of unarmed black men. Police released tear gas and fired rubber bullets during the protests.
One attendee, campus freshman Ana Minauri, said she was disappointed by the event’s turnout of students.
“I haven’t heard of most of these names, and that’s why I’m here — because it’s such an important issue that doesn’t receive enough attention,” she said.
Larger events are set to take place Tuesday in Oakland, San Francisco and Stockton. A group is scheduled to meet on Sproul Plaza at 11:30 a.m. and will walk to downtown Oakland.