The killing was captured on video, which has been watched widely on area television and all over the world on the Internet. Zambrano-Montes has his hands outstretched and visible, clearly unarmed, as he is shot to death.
This was the fourth fatal shooting by Pasco cops since last summer. In the previous three cases, the cops were not prosecuted.
Pasco, on the Columbia River in eastern Washington, is an agricultural area where apples and asparagus are key crops. Zambrano-Montes, 35, was an undocumented worker who came to the region from Mexico a decade ago. He worked as an apple picker until he broke both wrists in a fall from a ladder at work.
More than half of Pasco’s 68,000 residents are Latinos. The police force is overwhelmingly Caucasian.
Eduardo Baca, the Mexican government’s consul in Seattle, wrote a letter to Pasco Police Chief Robert Metzger expressing “deep concern over the unwarranted use of lethal force against an unarmed Mexican national by police officers.”
“Be respectful and nonviolent. This is not about color but human rights,” said a letter from the Zambrano-Montes family read to those at the protest by Maria Madrigal-Zambrano, cousin of Antonio. Marshals were organized to help guide the march.
“Justice for Antonio’s mother would be to prosecute the three that were in the incident, the three that murdered him, the same way they would prosecute a regular citizen or regular human being,” she said.
Berta Zamanedo, a packinghouse worker, carried a sign reading, “Police are murderers with a permit.”
In response to growing outrage over the killing, Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel announced Feb. 13 that he will convene a public coroner’s inquest to investigate the shooting. He told the press he hoped to have at least half the six-person panel composed of area Latinos. “The main thing is we don’t want another Ferguson in Pasco,” he told the Associated Press.
Many marchers, who came from across the state, said they decided to get involved because of the protests last year against the cop killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York.
“I missed the demonstrations in Seattle around the Ferguson events because I was working,” Phillip Blake, a Metro bus driver in Seattle and member of the Amalgamated Transit Union, told the Militant. “I felt it was important to be at this one. Enough is enough.”
Felix Vargas, chairman of Consejo Latino in Pasco, said that leaving the investigation to the police was “not credible.” He said there should be a federal investigation of the shooting. Kathleen Taylor, executive director of the Washington state American Civil Liberties Union, and a number of area ministers also spoke.
Many marchers were eager to share why they came.
“I was in Iraq. We could be prosecuted for shooting at someone because they threw stones,” said Nicholas Lambert, a student at Walla Walla University. “Why should the police have any different standards?”
“I’ve been detained and then released without charges. No matter what the cops do it is always ‘justified,’” said Enrique Flores, a truck driver from Pasco.
“I worked with Antonio for three years,” said Rolando Ramos, an agricultural worker. “We want justice for Antonio. We want jail for the three police.”
The family of Zambrano-Montes has filed a $25 million suit against the city of Pasco and Franklin County.
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