Outrage on the streets of Compton. ‘Justice for Andrés Guardado!’

Los Angeles, June 21 — Today, outrage can be heard on the streets regarding the decision by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to place any findings by the coroner regarding the shooting death by sheriffs of 18-year-old Andrés Guardado on a “security hold.” That means the information could be withheld from the public for years. This, while the city of Compton and politicians including Reps. Maxine Waters and Nanette Díaz Barragan demanded that the state attorney general conduct a full investigation into the killing.

On Thursday, June 18, Andrés Guardado, working as a security guard at an auto body shop in Compton, was approached by police who drew their weapons, frightening the youth, who reportedly ran and ended up getting shot with 6 rounds of bullets from sheriff’s deputies. Some witnesses reported that Andrés was on his knees with his hands behind his head when he was shot. 

The cops, of course, have another story and rely on their being in possession of the security cameras and the DVR that recorded the incident, and the fact that none of the sheriffs had body cameras recording the brutal assault, so they can spin whatever version of reality they like. However, the family of Guardado are demanding the footage.

The day after the shooting, Friday, June 19, there was a vigil held in front of the auto body shop with the family, including Guardado’s mother, father and cousins. The vigil was initiated by Unión del Barrio. 

On Sunday, June 21, Unión del Barrio and the Harriet Tubman Center for Social Justice held a 4-mile march from the shop where Guardado worked  to the sheriff’s headquarters, demanding justice and the immediate jailing of the cops responsible. About a thousand people attended the spirited march, led by a Black motorcycle grouping in Compton who had participated in a car caravan two weeks prior in protest of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis. 

Roc, who led the motorcycle contingent, said the group would continue to work together to fight this and other killings by the police. The car caravan two weeks prior was also initiated by Unión del Barrio and the Harriet Tubman Center and included Witness for Peace Southwest, the Human Rights Alliance for Child Refugees and Families, Frente Indígena de Organizaciones and other groups. That event, like the march held June 21, successfully attracted other organizations and their members and helped build unbreakable bonds between Black, Brown and Indigenous organizations in Los Angeles. It is that unity that organizers are counting on to launch a powerful fight against police terror, here and nationwide.

In that vein, organizers at the June 21 march stressed demands that would inspire a direction that empowers especially Black, Brown and Indigenous peoples towards their right to self defense against the cops and for the disarming and abolishing of cops and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. These demands echoed off of the streets and homes along the route with activists on the sound truck behind the Indigenous dancers. And, at the sheriff’s headquarters facing off against the militarily armed cops, the sound truck was the platform where speakers gave powerful talks. 

Rebecka Jackson of the Socialist Unity Party exposed the connection between the billionaires and the capitalists and the police they own. Jackson reflected on her recent visit to Minneapolis to report on the protests there and said her main takeaway from that experience was that the tremendous power of the people can be truly realized only if we organize and join an organization.

After four hours, marchers were still full of energy and not deterred by the phalanx of guns and cops in front of the sheriff’s headquarters. The motorcycle security leading the march had already conferred with organizers to get around the cops by having the people march around them and into the plaza adjacent to the headquarters. They then made their way to the back of the sheriff’s station along with the sound truck, entering the plaza and getting 20 feet from the station where a phalanx of cops regrouped to line up with steel barricades. 

For the next couple of hours, militant voices reverberated off of the surrounding buildings and into the halls of the sheriff’s station, putting them on alert that the people would not be deterred and were not afraid. 

Ron Gochez of Unión del Barrio let the cops and their superiors know that the large number of Latinx deputies that happened to be the ones out there didn’t fool anyone into thinking that they were sympathetic to the Latinx community that had come out to protest. He told them that they, in fact, were no longer part of the Brown community, nor were the Black or Brown or Indigenous communities represented there afraid of them. 

“Believe me,” Gochez said, “we have the same things you have, and if you think you’ll come into my community threatening my people, you’re in for a big surprise.” Gochez spoke about the determination of people present at the demonstration: “None of us here are getting paid. We’re volunteers and we’re here because we believe in the cause and won’t stop fighting.”

Given the intimidation tactics of the cops, the family members were hesitant to make their way up to the sound truck that was right in front of the deputies. But, towards the end of the rally, the father of Guardado and his cousin came up and spoke about how shocked and heartbroken they were, but how thankful they were for those who came out fighting for justice. 

Inspired by the rally, four mothers of children killed by police came up to speak and most declared that they wanted the cops who killed their children to be thrown in the worst jails possible for life and also expressed that their determination to fight for justice for their children would never end.

When the rally ended and most of the people were leaving, with the truck backing out and down plaza stairs, and eventually onto the street, shots from deputies could be heard. Tear gas and rubber bullets were aimed at the few who remained behind, even though no one was threatening the cops. 

Although the march was covered by most of the corporate media, the area where the police were attacking protesters was hidden away from the cameras, so the violent cops holding guns felt empowered. However, social media posts of the police attack proved again that little can remain hidden. And, as this rally showed, the people have had enough and are increasingly expressing their willingness and their right to defend themselves by any means necessary against genocide by cop.