PHOTOS: Protesters march against Stockton police shootings | News
STOCKTON, CA - A protest march against the Stockton police quickly intensified when the police entered the streets.
Approximately 250 protestors, several bused in from Oakland, stopped traffic Tuesday afternoon and confronted police officers at their own headquarters off of El Dorado Street. Police called it an "unlawful assembly" and sent officers out in helmets, shields and batons to move the crowd down the street.
The crowd was organized by families of young men shot and killed by police officers.
Luther Brown Jr. was killed on April 6 by Stockton police after officials said he gave chase during a traffic stop, resisted arrest and stole one officer's baton. The second officer shot Brown several times, stating he feared for his partner's life. Brown's family disputes that claim and use of deadly force.
"He didn't have time to grab nothing," Brown's sister Donna Brown said. "They lied and we got key witnesses and we're going to see about that when we get to court."
The family of James Rivera, who was shot and killed by police in July 2010, also challenged the officers' version of events, which led up to Rivera's death.
"The day before, they came to my sister's house saying they were looking for him," Rivera's uncle Loummba Rigmaden said. "Probably less than 10 hours later, he's dead."
Rigmaden said Rivera led officers on a chase, but crashed into a garage. Rigmaden believes Rivera was unconscious after the crash, which is why he didn't step out of the car when officers gave him commands. Rigmaden claims the officers opened fire on an unarmed Rivera. His family is still waiting for the autopsy report.
Stockton police officials have said both officer-involved-shootings were in self-defense, making the killings justifiable.
"All they got to do is say, 'We feared for our life,' and that's it. It's justifiable in the eyes of the law," Rigmaden said.
Occupy Stockton and Occupy Oakland joined the march saying they were here to protest a bigger problem, the lack of support from city officials to create solutions for street problems.
"There's less and less cops, so there's less and less ability to react to violence," Occupy Stockton's Echo Faux said. "A lot of them are getting jumpy."
One protester was handcuffed after refusing to get up off of the street and others were physically forced to keep moving.
Community activists stepped in to calm both protesters and police. Both groups marched down El Dorado Street to the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza across from city hall without an incident.
Police stayed at the scene until after 5 p.m. when protesters gradually left the park.
While the march ended Tuesday evening, protesters said the fight doesn't end at sunset.