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Vol. 72/No. 6      February 11, 2008

Killing of youth by Oakland cop sparks protests
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OAKLAND, California—Protesters crowded into the Santa Fe Elementary School auditorium here January 23 to demand justice for 20-year-old Gary King, Jr., who was gunned down by an Oakland cop September 20.

The gathering was initially called by Oakland city officials to “have a discussion with the neighborhood about crime.” Oakland police chief Wayne Tucker was there, as were a number of cops.

Most of those present, though, had little interest in the planned agenda. King’s relatives, friends, and neighbors came to demand the prosecution of Patrick Gonzales, the cop who shot King twice in the back, and to discuss the continuing harassment and murder of Black youth by Oakland cops.

“Gary was not a bad person. He did not deserve this,” said Julian Nelson, a childhood friend of King. “We want to see justice.”

Several of those who spoke said that Gonzales had already shot two other Black youth—Joshua Russell, 19, of Hayward, California, who was killed in 2002; and Amir Rollins, 17, who is now in Children’s Hospital, paralyzed after Gonzales shot him in 2006.

According to friends who were with King when he was shot, Gonzales knocked a drink out of his hand and repeatedly Tasered him as he came out of a liquor store holding a soda and a bag of chips. As King staggered away, Gonzales shot him in the back through the lung and the heart.

The cops say it was a case of mistaken identity because King had a similar hair style and coloring as a murder suspect. Gonzales claims he shot King because he thought King was reaching for a gun.

Supporters of justice for King have been holding rallies at the office of Oakland’s District Attorney from 4-6 p.m. on Thursdays demanding that Gonzales be indicted. On January 21, a contingent calling for justice for King marched in San Francisco’s Martin Luther King Day parade. A mural in Gary King’s memory has been painted at the site where he was killed.

“We want to let people know that this is important,” Gary King, Sr., said in an interview on NBC. “It transcends Gary, and it’s about all our families, and our children. The conduct of the police department has to be addressed aggressively.”

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