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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people                              
Vol. 81/No. 1      January 2, 2017



Available Online
(lead article)

Calif. vigil denounces cop killing of Francisco Serna

Socialist Workers Party candidate joins protest

Bakersfield Californian/Felix Adamo
Dec. 13 vigil for 73-year-old Francisco Serna, killed the previous day by police in Bakersfield, California. Relatives of Serna and others killed by Bakersfield cops denounced latest shooting.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — More than 200 people attended a candlelight vigil Dec. 13 for Francisco Serna, 73, shot and killed by the police here the day before. Participants included family; neighbors; relatives of other victims of cop killings in Bakersfield; Dolores Huerta, a founding member of the United Farm Workers union; and Dennis Richter, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of Los Angeles.

“It is difficult to accept that our dad’s life ended so brutally, abruptly and with such excessive violence,” said Cyndy Imperial, reading a statement from Serna’s family. “We felt our dad was stolen from us at a time our family should be celebrating the holidays, birthdays and making happy family memories. Instead, our dad was murdered by BPD.”

Serna was shot after midnight when police arrived after receiving a report that someone in the area was acting strangely and might have a gun. Serna, who family members said suffered from early stages of dementia, often took late-night walks around the neighborhood.

While the cops were interviewing the couple who called them, Police Chief Lyle Martin told the media that Serna came out of his house and walked toward them with one hand in his jacket. The cops started yelling at him and when he kept walking, officer Reagan Selman fired seven times.

Serna was unarmed. He was carrying a wooden crucifix in his pocket.

“He had absolutely nothing. No gun, no knife, no stick, nothing,” said neighbor Donald Clark, a witness to the killing.

“BPD murdered my father for no reason,” said daughter Laura Serna.

The cops let their dog on him after he was shot, Clark said. “He was begging for help.”

Rubia Serna, Francisco’s wife, and daughter Laura, asked to go to his side as he lay dying, but police refused.

Among those who joined the vigil were family members of others who were shot and killed by the Bakersfield police, including Jorge Ramirez. His son, also named Jorge Ramirez, was shot and killed by the cops in 2013. Police offered him a deal on outstanding drug charges if he would lead them to another suspect. When he did so a gunfight ensued, and Ramirez, who was unarmed, was shot 10 times. Even though he was assisting the cops, they handcuffed and left him face down on the pavement, and he died.

Ramirez’s banner read, “Stand Up and Unite Against Killer Cops.”

“We demand charges against the cop who killed Serna,” SWP candidate Richter said when he met Jorge Ramirez. “The vigils and protests are important to not let the pressure off the police and the city. And as we participate in these fights, we learn and draw strength from each other.

“The cops don’t act in our interests, they don’t ‘serve and protect’ us. They serve and protect the interests of the propertied rulers and act as an occupation force against the working class, disproportionately against those who are African-American, Latino or Native American,” Richter said. “That’s why this brutality will continue as long as this system remains in place, a system run by and for the capitalist class.”

Judy Edens, mother of Jason Alderman, and his aunt, Traci Alderman, also joined the protest. Jason Alderman was shot and killed by officer Chad Garrett in August 2015 when cops said they thought the crowbar he had was a gun.

Garrett is the same cop who killed Jorge Ramirez.

The Sernas are requesting an investigation by the Department of Justice and are asking the California attorney general to appoint an independent investigator in the matter.
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Cop gets jail time for killing Andrew Thomas in Paradise, Calif.
Milwaukee cop charged in killing of Sylville Smith

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