By SYLVIA WEINSTEIN
On Dec. 29, Tyisha Miller was massacred in her locked car in Riverside, Calif.
Here is the story from The New York Times: “Shortly before 2 a.m. on Monday, authorities received a 911 call saying that a woman in a car at a gas station in Riverside was asleep or unconscious with a pistol in her lap.
“At 2:01 a.m. four Riverside police officers, three white and one Hispanic, arrived and tried to wake up the woman as she sat in her locked Nissan Sentra with the windows rolled up
” A few moments later, Ms. Miller was dead. Family members said her body and car was riddled with as many as two dozen bullets.
“Just after the shooting, the police said that Ms. Miller had shot at them once and, fearing for their lives the officers had returned fire.
“Today, though, a police spokesman, Sgt. Chris Manning, said it was unclear whether Ms. Miller had fired. But, Sergeant Miller said, Ms. Miller did grab the gun after the officers smashed the driver’s side window to get to her.”
The reason her family and friends had called 911 is that they had seen her in her locked car, asleep or unconscious, her seat reclined. The car’s radio was blasting and the heat was turned too high.
According to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, Anthonete Joiner (Tyisha Miller’s cousin, who was 30 feet from the car when the police started shooting and who had called 911 to summon an ambulance) said that her cousin “was lying in the car shaking , her eyes rolling and mouth foaming.”
Ron Butler, Ms. Joiner’s uncle, who had gone to help Tyisha because she had a flat tire, said, “She wasn’t a criminal. She was a young girl with a flat tire and she fell asleep.” She was massacred in her sleep.
Reports of police shootings of unarmed people are a regular occurrence. In Washington, D.C., just since 1990, 85 people, the great majority unarmed, have been shot to death by police. In the last five years, there were 640 shootings by police, many provoked over minor incidents such as traffic violations-resulting in 57 deaths.
Of 422 police shootings reviewed between 1994-98, only two resulted in criminal charges against the police. One officer got probation; the other, 15 days in jail. In other words, the police have a license to kill.
Top officials of the D.C. police department blamed the increased police shooting on the “War On Drugs.” They said that a new handgun had been introduced that requires considerable training to use and that newly recruited police officers are poorly trained.
So why turn them loose on an unarmed population? As usual, those who were shot by police were mostly Black. Not drug runners but Black people.
In his State of the Union address, President Clinton promised to put 5000 more police on community streets. You can bet that’s one of his promises he will keep.
We don’t need more police and more military buildups. We need more jobs-with living wages, more housing, more schools, smaller classrooms, more child care centers in those schools, with early childhood development teachers, and more after-school centers for school age young people.
That’s what we need, while the capitalist class needs more police, more military, and more scabs.
Eight hundred people attended the funeral of 19-year-old Tyisha Miller in Riverside. They mourned for her and they expressed the outrage she could not. We mourn for her and all the other victims of police madness.