The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 69/No. 9           March 7, 2005  
Protesters in L.A. condemn cop killing of Devin Brown, 13
(feature article)
LOS ANGELES—The cold-blooded police killing of 13-year-old Devin Brown in the early morning hours of February 6 has been met with outrage here.

On February 8 several hundred people marched from the corner of West 83 Street and South Western Avenue, where Brown was shot, to the Bethel AME Church several blocks away. This was followed by a vigil and protest meeting at the church later that night. Hundreds more filled the church and part of the street outside for the funeral on February 15. A citywide protest is scheduled for February 26.

Brown was killed at 4:00 a.m. when a cop fired 10 rounds into the car he was driving after a chase on the Los Angeles freeway. Police allege that Brown was driving a stolen car when he went through a red light, leading to the police pursuit.

The boy, an eighth-grader at Audubon Middle School, was pronounced dead on the scene. Fourteen-year-old Chad Richardson, who was with him, fled the car and was later arrested and charged with auto theft.

There is widespread skepticism about the cops’ claim that their lives were threatened when, at the end of the chase, the car Brown was driving jumped the curb, stopped, and then went into reverse, sideswiping the patrol car.

On the day of the shooting signs were displayed at the corner where Brown died. The Associated Press reported one reading, “LAPD… Thank you for giving us yet another reason to dislike your services. We have seen enough deaths caused by you and do not agree with your execution of yet another young black male. You are a cancer to the community.”

Some media commentators have sought to take the spotlight off the issue of police brutality and place the blame for Devin Brown’s death on the family, because he was not at home at 4:00 a.m.

At the funeral, Charlie Rushing, pastor of the Slater Street Missionary Baptist Church, answered the attacks’ on Brown’s family, voicing the view of many when he said, “Whatever that child was doing out that time of night, he should not have been killed,” the Los Angeles Times reported. He added that Devin’s father died of heart failure a little over a year ago, and that his mother works two jobs.

The Brown killing comes on the heels of an announcement by the district attorney’s office that the cops who were videotaped last June brutalizing Stanley Miller, a car theft suspect, will not be prosecuted. A news helicopter video aired at the time showed Miller being pushed to the ground and then kicked and hit 11 times in the head area with a police flashlight. Eight cops were on the scene, CNN reported.

In January a jury awarded $2.4 million to two police in the nearby town of Inglewood, who had been caught on video brutalizing a handcuffed Black teenager.

In an attempt to quell the growing anger over cops getting away with brutality, the city Police Commission quickly moved after the killing of Devin Brown to revise police guidelines to say that cops cannot fire into a moving vehicle unless threatened with deadly force other than a vehicle.

In the wake of the killing, the city council of Los Angeles turned down a request by Mayor James Hahn to put an initiative on the ballot for a higher sales tax to pay for more police. A similar measure on the state ballot in the last election was turned down by voters.

As the race for mayor of Los Angeles enters its final weeks, Wendy Lyons, candidate of the Socialist Workers Party, has called for the prosecution of the cops who shot Devin Brown. “More guidelines for cops won’t solve the problem,” she said in a statement released after the killing. “In their utter contempt for working people the police claim that anyone they shoot seemed to have a weapon. That’s why we say, ‘Jail the guilty cops!’”

In an interview on the “Talk of the City” program on National Public Radio on February 22, Lyons urged the largest possible turnout for the February 26 demonstration.  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home