US police terrorize people throughout the country, activists say nothing new

Incidents throughout July indicate a lack of responsibility and accountability on behalf of US police, which has led to deadly consequences

July 22, 2022 by Natalia Marques
Mass movements in the US have questioned the militarization and overfunding of police departments.

Throughout July, police in the United States have unleashed countless acts of violence on the people in the country. In this month alone, US police have killed at least 52 people. The release of security footage to US media has further exposed the negligence of the police response to the Uvalde mass shooting. Videos on social media have shown the brutality of police in Akron, Ohio towards those protesting the police murder of Jayland Walker, especially as some of those protesters were family members of other victims of state violence.

Yet, many activists have pointed out that US police often structure their statements to conceal wrongdoing. When law enforcement acknowledges a police murder, for example, they label it as an “officer-involved shooting”. Many times, the media regurgitates the same political line, effectively using the passive voice to obscure who was killed, and who was doing the killing. “Anchorage police investigating officer-involved shooting at Centennial Park” reads a headline after police open fire in a homeless encampment. “Identities of the three police officers involved in shooting released” reads another after two troopers and one officer shot and killed a man armed with only a knife. 

Even finding out the identities of victims of police terror from law enforcement can be difficult. 15 out of the at least 52 people killed by police in July are labeled as “unidentified”

Therefore, it remains important to keep track of the myriad incidents of state violence that plague the people of the United States. Especially as police try their hardest to keep their crimes out of the headlines.

Cops shoot Robert Adams in the back as he flees

On July 16, at around 8 pm, police responded to reports of an armed man in a parking lot in San Bernardino, California. Police pulled into the parking lot in an unmarked car, and upon seeing Robert Marquise Adams with a gun in his hand, got out of the car and rushed towards him, with their weapons pointed directly at him

Robert did not respond by using his gun against officers. It will always be unclear if he even knew these men running towards him were police, or civilians intent on murdering him. A surveillance video shows Robert running for his life, before officers shot him several times in the back, killing him. 

Responding to the murder, San Bernardino police state that, “Officers briefly chased Adams, but seeing that he had no outlet, they believed he intended to use the vehicles as cover to shoot at them…Fearing that bystanders’ or the officers’ lives were in danger, one of the officers fired his gun, striking Adams.” 

The video makes it clear that only a few seconds lapse between officers getting out of their car and Robert’s murder, giving Robert time for little complex judgement apart from fleeing from his life. It is also important to note that US police have access to a myriad amount of nonlethal weapons that can be used to stop someone in their tracks, such as tasers. Activists are asking why the first response of San Bernardino police towards someone running in the opposite direction is several bullets to vital organs. 

Cristian Alcaraz, a local organizer in the greater Los Angeles Area, told Peoples Dispatch, “I think the murder of Robert Adams is like the many shootings by police in LA County and the surrounding counties: outright executions of Black people.”

“The police pulled up on him in an unmarked car, guns drawn, and rushed him. Robert ran from the dangerous situation the cops created like any person would. There wasn’t any danger there until the cops showed up, and Robert was punished for daring to run away from unidentified men with arms running towards him,” Alcaraz added.

In their response, San Bernardino police made little direct acknowledgement of Robert Adams as a person. “It is unfortunate that our efforts to keep the community safe through proactive police work occasionally results in encounters with armed felons,” they said.

Albuquerque police murder a child by fire

On July 6, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) killed 15-year-old Brett Rosenau in a SWAT-team “standoff” that led to a family home engulfed in flames. 

APD claims to have been pursuing 27-year-old Qiaunt Kelley for several crimes, including a parole violation, when he barricaded himself inside the home of Sundra Coleman, alongside Brett, who was innocent of any crime. APD’s statement following the incident reveals that they knew that Brett was inside the home when they threw tear gas canisters into the house, causing the fire that eventually killed the child. An autopsy revealed that Brett died from smoke inhalation

Kelley fled from detectives and barricaded himself inside the home. A second individual, later identified as Rosenau, followed Kelley into the home,” reads the police statement.

The statement continues, “At one point, a man believed to be Kelley, opened the back door of the home and lay on his back as officers monitored his actions. He ignored officers’ commands to stand up. He eventually sat in place. Officers used a noise flash diversionary device to get Kelley to follow commands. But he retreated back into the home, shutting the door.”

Officers did not move to arrest Kelley, even as he lay on the ground.

Police also claim that the tear gas and other chemical irritants they used to lure Kelley out of the house were “designed for indoor use to minimize the likelihood of igniting a fire, and no fires have been reported over the many years they have been used in Albuquerque.” And yet, tear gas canisters have caused fires on numerous occasions. According to activists, it is worrisome that APD seems to be unaware of the risks of their own weaponry. 

The Albuquerque branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation stated, “On July 7, 15-year-old Brett Rosenau was murdered by Albuquerque Police Department officers using a fraudulent arrest warrant to launch an all-out racist assault on a family home.”

“APD officers needlessly threw tear gas and flash-bang devices into the home every 30 minutes for five and a half hours causing a catastrophic house fire, then waited 40 minutes before calling for assistance from Albuquerque Fire Rescue,” the statement continued. “Due to the inferno that resulted from APD’s aggression, Brett died of smoke inhalation and the family home was destroyed.”

Brett was visiting Sundra Coleman’s son when the SWAT-team raid began. Coleman has now lost her family home, passed down from her mother, along with one of her dogs, which perished in the fire.

“If any of our actions inadvertently contributed to [Brett Rosenau’s] death, we will take steps to ensure this never happens again,” said APD Chief Harold Medina.

Negligence of Uvalde cops is fully revealed

On May 24, a gunman opened fire in an elementary school classroom in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two teachers. Soon after the shooting, Peoples Dispatch covered the ineptitude of the police in Uvalde, who waited over an hour to apprehend the shooter while children were shot and bled out inside two adjoining classrooms. But a July 17 report shared with the Texas Tribune, as well as surveillance footage shared by the Austin Statesman earlier this month reveals a deeper extent to their fatal negligence.

It was originally thought that 19 police officers responded to the shooting, yet the new report reveals that the number was 376. Despite this high number of personnel, surveillance footage shows how police idled for one hour and fourteen minutes after arriving at the scene, before finally breaching the classroom and killing the shooter.

At one point, several police who had congregated in the hallway outside of the classroom ran from gunfire, despite being protected with tactical gear and carrying massive weapons themselves. Stills from the footage have circulated social media, especially those where police idle in the hallway, checking their phones or using hand sanitizer while children cower or bleed out inside the classroom. 

Most gunshot victims die from blood loss, so in these cases, time is of the essence. A training manual used by Uvalde police reads, “A first responder unwilling to place the lives of the innocent above their own safety should consider another career field.”

Immediately after the shooting, Texas Governor Abbott claimed that, “[Police] showed amazing courage by running toward gunfire”. Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw claimed that cops “immediately breached [the classroom], because we know as officers, every second’s a life.” Both these statements have been revealed as lies.

Family members of police brutality victims arrested in Akron

Peoples Dispatch previously covered the protests that rose up in Akron, Ohio in response to the gruesome police murder of Jayland Walker—and the subsequent state repression of those protests. 

The people of Akron rose up early this month in outrage over the shooting of Jayland, who was shot over 60 times by police. On July 4, a patriotic holiday for the US, roughly fifty people were arrested at a protest after the mayor declared a 9 pm curfew. Police deployed chemical weapons such as tear gas against protesters. 

When people came out in protest again on Thursday night, July 7, police once again arrested and brutalized protests. On this night, those arrested included Jacob Blake Sr., father of Jacob Blake who was paralyzed after Kenosha, Wisconsin police shot him. Also arrested was Bianca Austin, aunt of EMT Breonna Taylor who was shot and killed in her sleep after Louisville, Kentucky police entered her home on a “no-knock” warrant.

Jacob Blake Sr., who has several health conditions, was hospitalized following his arrest. He was charged with rioting, resisting arrest, failing to disperse and disorderly conduct. Blake Sr.’s brother, Justin Blake, told The Journal Times, “They were there to unite the community and family and to get justice, before they were attacked…He wasn’t resisting arrest, he was leaning on the fence for a respite. He’s handicapped.”

Denver police carry out a mass shooting

On July 17, police in Denver opened fire on a crowded street with little to no provocation, injuring 6 people. Officers claim to have been responding to an alleged fight perpetrated by 21-year-old Jordan Waddy, who allegedly pulled out a gun and pointed it towards officers. In response, police opened fire. Although police later claimed that Waddy “posed a significant threat”, there is no evidence that he fired his weapon at all during the incident. 

This shooting is a part of three shootings carried out by Denver police within only one week, the other two resulting in the death of those shot by police. 

Police in the United States receive a vast arsenal of leftover military equipment from the US government, which itself has the largest military in the world. And yet, incident after incident indicates that police have a lack of responsibility necessary to wield deadly weapons, often resulting in disastrous consequences. When it might in fact be necessary to use deadly force, as in the case of Uvalde, police show unusual hesitancy.

Mass movements of the people of the US have questioned the militarization and overfunding of police departments. As more and more incidents of police brutality and negligence are reported, such questioning of the role of police can only grow.

Police have thus far killed at least 52 people in July alone. These are their names.

  1. Robert Marquise Adams, 23, San Bernardino, California
  2. Unidentified, Chandler, Arizona
  3. John Todd Bigham, 53, Amarillo, Texas
  4. James Robert Frazier, 50, Georgetown, South Carolina
  5. Unidentified, Denver, Colorado
  6. Stephen Blossom, 35, Newport, Maine
  7. Unidentified, Vinton, Texas
  8. Trent William Millsap, 27, Westminster, California
  9. Maurice Hughes, 45, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
  10. Unidentified, Modesto, California
  11. Matthew Hyde, Hollywood, Florida
  12. Unidentified, Ontario, California
  13. Unidentified, Denver Colorado
  14. Unidentified, Hancock County, Illinois
  15. Unidentified, Salinas, California
  16. Romayne Manuel, 31, Grand Prairie, Texas
  17. Unidentified, Harris County, Texas
  18. Malachi Lavar Carroll, 20, Henrico County, Virginia
  19. Unidentified, Salem, Oregon
  20. Andrew Tekle Sundberg, 20, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  21. Mark Evers, 65, Clearcreek Township, Ohio
  22. Thomas Cromwell, 27, Mason, Ohio
  23. Madeline Miller, 64, Flossmoor, Illinois
  24. Dillon Walker, 31, Cave City, Kentucky
  25. Malik Williams, New York, New York
  26. Raoul Hardy, 60, New York, New York
  27. Unidentified, Colorado Springs, Colorado
  28. Jaime Rodriguez, 42, Long Beach, California
  29. Roderick Brooks, 47, Houston, Texas
  30.  Shane Netterville, 28, Fargo, North Dakota
  31.  Rafael Estevan Ramirez, 26, Marietta, Georgia
  32. Felipe Guerrero, 36, Los Angeles, California
  33.  Jasper Aaron Lynch, 26, Mclean, Virginia
  34.  Ehmani Mack Davis, 19, Detroit, Michigan
  35. Jerry Lee Esparza, Beeville, Texas
  36. Matthew Scott Jones, 36, Bradley, West Virginia
  37. Chanin Emil Mayfield, 32, Toccoa, Georgia
  38. Reginald Humphrey, 31, Los Angeles, California
  39. Juan Carlos Bojorquez, 15, Glendale, Arizona
  40.  Trevon Darion Hull, 21, Port Neches, Texas
  41.  Unidentified, Martin County, Kentucky
  42.  Unidentified, Wilmington, California
  43. Miguel Gallarzo, 46, Las Vegas, Nevada
  44. James Parks, 44, Warner Robins, Georgia
  45. Glenn Nisich, 57, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  46. Bryan Humble, 63, Chaparral, New Mexico
  47. Unidentified, Denver, Colorado
  48. Michael Moore, 75, Sacramento, California
  49. Unidentified, 30, Huntington Park, California
  50. Jesus Rodolfo Torres, 30, Los Angeles, California
  51. Jada Johnson, 22, Fayetteville, North Carolina
  52. Brett Rosenau,15, Albuquerque, New Mexico