RIVERSIDE, California - January 29, 2009 The Brown Berets of Aztlán led a march from the César Chávez Community Center at the Bobby Bonds Park to the Riverside Sheriff’s Department, where they held a candlelight vigil and demonstration.
They convoked the assembly to build momentum for the movement for justice for Annette García, a Perris resident, Brown Beret member, and mother of six, who was shot in the back on January 23 by a Riverside sheriff’s deputy.
The Brown Berets were joined by mourners, anti-police brutality activists, community members, and immigrant rights activists, many of also protested today’s simultaneous immigration raids in many communities across the Inland Empire.
(Border Patrol agents were reported to have done sweeps in the cities on Rialto and Fontana, as well as paying visits to the Riverside Home Depot and the San Bernardino Greyhound station. See the calendar for information about tomorrow’s emergency press conference.)
But the focus of the evening fell mainly on Annette García, and the need for organization, unity, and action to prevent such acts of state-perpetuated cruelty.
Organizers asked the nearly fifty people present to return on Saturday at 10:00 am for another, larger march and press conference. “Go back, tell people about it. If you’ve got some websites, jump on the websites. On MySpace, send out your bulletins. Tell ‘em how it was today, tell them what you expect to happen Saturday. We wanna raise hell over there at Bobby Bonds Park before we get here. Then we’re gonna close this place down for several hours.”
The impact of the police presence on the local community was underscored by the nearly constant procession of sad-faced family members, some of whom seemed surprised to see protesters upon arriving at the detention center to attempt to free their loved ones.
After several moving speeches and raucous chants, we were all provided rides back to the Chávez center.
“This is not the first time we’ve marched on Riverside,” said one veterano at the initiation of the march.
Nor will it be the last.