Stockton, Calif. — The family and friends of James Rivera Jr. held the 3rd Annual Speak-Out for victims of police violence here on May 31.
In 2010, the 16-year-old was driving a minivan that was violently forced off of the road by multiple police units. The vehicle crashed through two garages, rendering it immobile. Stockton police officers opened fire on Rivera within seconds of the crash. A total of 48 rounds entered his body from the sides and back of the minivan, killing him at the scene. Rivera’s family still has not received police reports, video or picture evidence, or his personal property from the police.
About 40 demonstrators, with more than a dozen young children, had gathered at Weberstown Mall and began marching to Caldwell Park, where the group was holding a free community barbeque and speak-out. Stockton Police showed up in full force, dressed in riot gear and even bringing out their armored personnel carrier. They outnumbered the protesters 3 to 1, with one of the cops brandishing a bean bag shotgun.
Without any warning or dispersal order, the police suddenly started forcing all the demonstrators onto the sidewalk with their batons, nearly trampling a number of the young children. They grabbed Carey Downs, James Rivera’s father, and shoved him to the ground, with several cops piling on top of him. He was beaten and arrested. After charging Downs with resisting arrest, the police released him later that day.
This reporter spoke to Downs the next day. He described how “[an] officer yelled ‘Get off the street,’ blindsiding me while I was talking to another cop, and hit me with his club in the side of my head and the mouth.” Downs said he wasn’t read his rights and wasn’t allowed to see a nurse while he was in custody. He described his injuries: “Bruises on wrist, forearm, all the way up to the shoulder, a busted lip. Arm hurts really badly. … Bruises on back and buttocks.”
Downs insisted that “we’re going to keep on fighting and raising awareness in the community. There’s no other family raising hell out here. He was only 16 years old, but they put his name out there as if he was an adult.” Downs said that the family had just found out that Rivera’s bone marrow had been removed by the hospital without the family’s consent.
Downs declared: “I’m a soldier without a gun. We still haven’t been able to get the police report. I’m going to keep on fighting. It’s going to take more than a beatdown to stop me from fighting for my son.”
Down’s hearing date for the police assault against him is set for June 23 at 8:30 a.m. Check with “Justice James Rivera” on Facebook for updates: http://tinyurl.com/pd5a3j7.