Youth Protest Police Shootings

A botched stakeout left a 17-year-old girl dead, her life cut short by a San Francisco police officer. Now young activists, who fear their own lives may be affected by over-zealous law enforcement in their minority communities are banding together to fight back against police brutality.On May 13, 1998 undercover San Francisco police officers and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents were staking out the apartment of Raymondo Cox, 21 hoping to arrest him on drug charges. When Cox got into a car with Sheila Detoy and driver Michael Negron, police attempted to block one end of the driveway with a van. When Negron threw the car into reverse to try to go out the other way, police officers say they feared that the car would hit them, so they opened fire, killing Detoy.Negron, not officers, is now charged with the murder of Detoy.Winde Tony, an eyewitness who was walking nearby at the time of the shooting said the plainclothes officers did not identify themselves as cops, and suggested they were not in any danger since they were not in the path of the car. Officer Gregory Breslin, who admits he fired the shot that killed Detoy has since been promoted to captain.Young activists say the Detoy case is an example of the level of brutality that police use to deal with young people on a regular basis, especially those in poor communities, and they fear that they may become the next victims of this brand of heavy handed policing."The Detoy case means that young people should fear for their lives and hide or run every time they see a police officer because they are at risk of being murdered," said Elly Kugler, 19, of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, a non-profit human rights group.About 100 young people crowded a meeting of the San Francisco Police Commission March 29, to protest police brutality and Breslin's promotion."I don't want to die at 17 for no reason other than a crooked cop wants to shoot me -- what kind of bullshit is that," shouted Claire Hines of the Third Eye Movement during the public speaking segment of the meeting.The Third Eye Movement is a youth activist organization that played a large role in the campaign against Proposition 21, the initiative calling for increased punishment for juvenile offenders, which passed in March.Largely made up of youth of color, many Third Eye members attended the meeting. They say their communities suffer heavily from police brutality.The youth also say they feel police have tried to characterize Detoy as a criminal because of the people she was with, and because she lived a hip hop lifestyle."The Sheila Detoy Case is a clear example of the relationship between cops and young people," said Ying-sun Ho of Third Eye. "It shows the depth of the corruption and disrespect inherent in the police department's attitude towards young people."Third Eye says the Detoy case, along with passage of Proposition 21, have politicized many young people, and made them fight back against the state and law enforcement agencies who, they say, are launching an all-out war on youth."I think Prop. 21 and the Detoy shooting have politicized young people in a major way, it has shown them just how far law enforcement will go to disenfranchise youth and communities of color," says J Imani of Third Eye."I think that 21 and the Detoy case have taught young people that the system is attacking them and they need to speak up to save themselves," said Elly Kugler.The shooting of Sheila Detoy is still under investigation by the Office of Civilian Complaints, the civilian review board of the SFPD. These young people have shown that they will watch the results of the investigation closely, and they will not allow the tragic ending of her young life to be filed away and forgotten.

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