FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Community organization submits open letter to Ventura County District Attorney re: Robert Ramirez homicide at Oxnard Police Department’s hands
On behalf of Ramirez’s family, Todo Poder al Pueblo Collective demands accountability, transparency in pursuit of justice for officer-committed homicide victim
On Friday, January 25, 2013, members of the Oxnard-based Todo Poder al Pueblo Collective, accompanied by the parents of Robert Ramirez, delivered a letter (see below) to the Office of the Ventura County District Attorney Gregory D. Totten. The letter was given to DA Executive Assistant Joyce Donahue and Chief Deputy District Attorney Chuck Hughes.
The letter urges the DA to respond within a week to the questions and concerns raised by the collective and the Ramirez family, establishing a deadline of February 1, 2013; a more than reasonable span of time given that over seven months have elapsed since the tragic taking of Ramirez’s life.
Community organizations and families representing the victims of police brutality have reserved the right and expressed their will to carry out direct action and various community events if the District Attorney’s office continues to show disregard for the community’s rightful expectations of justice.
Friday, January 25, 2013
Office of Ventura County District Attorney
Attention: Gregory D. Totten, District Attorney
800 South Victoria Avenue
Ventura, CA 93009
Re: Investigation and Prosecution of Oxnard Police Officers implicated in the Homicide of Robert Ramirez
Mr. Gregory D. Totten,
As you are aware, on the night of June 23, 2012, the Oxnard Police Department (OPD) was implicated in what has been determined the “homicide by asphyxia from active prone restraint” of Robert Ramirez. Involved in this homicide were, according to a press release by the OPD, at least seven (7) Oxnard Police officers: Senior Officer Steven Ramirez II, Officer Michael Bocanegra, Officer Rosylnn Wilfert, Officer Pedro Rodriguez, Officer Aaron Zavala, Officer Kyle Brantner, and Officer Mathew Ross (herein referred to as the ‘seven criminal homicide suspects’).
This crime – like any and every incident of police misconduct and brutality large or small – is an offense against our entire community and a violation of our community’s standard of justice. Seven months have passed since the night the homicide occurred, and it’s been nearly two months since the Ventura County Medical Examiner officially declared that Robert Ramirez’s death was caused by the actions of the seven criminal homicide suspects.
Our community is concerned that the delays in investigating this case on the part of both the DA and the OPD are a collaborative effort to delay justice. Also, we are deeply skeptical about the objectivity of one Ventura County law enforcement agency investigating another.
The people you’ve been elected to serve are seriously concerned by the knowledge that these seven criminal homicide suspects, rather than facing the penalty of incarceration demanded by such gross misconduct, remain employed by the City of Oxnard. Adding insult to injury, these seven criminal homicide suspects continue to roam our neighborhoods armed with numerous semi-automatic weapons, in addition to shotguns and other ‘less-than-lethal’ devices and tools whose adverse effects include serious injury and even death.
Some, if not all, of the seven criminal homicide suspects are trained in martial arts and lethal hand-to-hand combat techniques. Residents suffer reasonable fear of the possibility of becoming victims of these officers who, like many other sworn staff of the OPD, are trained to employ military-grade tactical combat in our streets. These combat methods include potentially deadly hand-to-hand techniques as well as compliance & submission techniques that can directly lead to lethal prone restraint asphyxia. Such methods of physical force continue to be put into daily use by regional officers with impunity, ensuring a repetition of the Officer-Committed Homicides that claim the lives of victims such as Ramirez and scar our communities.
In this context it should be clear that the people have a natural right to feel anxiety, insecurity, and outrage.
We write this letter to you on behalf of the people who you’ve been elected to represent. We formally and publicly request that you provide our community with a detailed and accurate response detailing what, if any, investigation has already taken place. We consider the scant details published in the Ventura County Star on January 23, 2013 to be far from satisfactory. This letter is also a protest against the continued denial of justice for Robert Ramirez, his family, his friends, our entire community, and all past, present, and future victims of police brutality, abuse, and misconduct.
The scope of our concern isn’t limited to the tragic and unnecessary taking of Robert Ramirez’s life alone; we have reason to believe that several officers implicated in the homicide of Ramirez may also be directly involved in other recent incidents of homicide and unprovoked violent aggression within our community, adding urgency to the matter. Therefore, we request that your office formally respond within a week to our questions and concerns.
Please send a written response to: firstname.lastname@example.org. For any further questions or concerns you may also reach us at: (805) 328-4763.
Colectivo Todo Poder al Pueblo and the family of Robert Ramirez
On Wednesday, September 19, 2012, residents held a People’s Tribunal for Justice at the Café on A Street in Oxnard. Community members discussed the ongoing crisis of police abuse and brutality and were able to document over 30 incidents of police abuse and misconduct. In addition, the close friends and family of Robert Ramirez—a victim of police brutality by OPD—shared testimony and memories of what a great and loving person Robert was.
Below is a letter presented to Chief Jeri Williams and the Oxnard City Council on September 25, 2012.
September 25, 2012
Chief Jeri Williams,
Our community has organized at least three mobilizations and passed out thousands of leaflets in our neighborhoods to bring attention to the unjust death of Robert Ramirez, who died in police custody on June 23, 2012. We have attended the Community Relations Commission meeting and the Oxnard City Council meetings twice in order to demand that police brutality and abuse be addressed through the “proper” channels. In addition, we’ve requested the development of an independent Community Police Complaint Review Board that will allow our community to submit complaints of police abuse, misconduct and brutality without fear and with the confidence that their complaints will be reviewed independently. As of today, our core demands have yet to be addressed by council or any department from the City of Oxnard.
As a result, the community held a hearing of the People’s Tribunal for Justice on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 where we discussed this ongoing crisis of police abuse and brutality in Oxnard. We were able to document over 30 individual incidents of police abuse and misconduct, as well as an additional 10 community members that were direct witnesses to these traumatic incidents. Our Tribunal also heard testimony from the family members and close friends of Robert Ramirez who shared their memories of what a beautiful, kind, and peaceful young man the real Robert was.
The photo released to the media is clear evidence that his bruises, lesions and facial trauma were the result of violence at the hands of the Oxnard Police. Based on this photo and the circumstances detailed by witnesses to the crime, the People’s Tribunal for Justice has issued its verdict. We, as a self-determined community, reserve the right to uphold our own standards of justice. As such, our Tribunal for Justice hereby finds Chief Jeri Williams and the seven unidentified officers GUILTY of the death of Robert Ramirez. The People’s Tribunal for Justice has determined that the aforementioned individuals are clear fugitives who have refused to answer for their aggression and hostility towards us. We call on the seven officers, and their leadership, to come forward for this crime. Failure to come forward will result in our continued advocacy on this issue, including disseminating material that will make clear that fugitives from community justice must be challenged and held to account.
The People’s Tribunal for Justice also calls on the City Council to address the issue of police brutality as a core problem in our community by holding an official hearing at a meeting of the council. If the council must separate the particular case of Robert, due to its ongoing investigation, then a general hearing during a council meeting may be scheduled. The council can no longer use this as an excuse to abandon its responsibility to investigate the pathological, violent approach of the Police under its charge. We also demand a public update confirming that the chief has contacted and invited the Attorney General to investigate Robert Ramirez’s case, as declared in her letter dated September 12, 2012.
For further correspondence and/or to respond to this letter, please contact the Colectivo Todo Poder al Pueblo:
805-328-4763 or through email at: email@example.com
Francisco Romero, on behalf of the Colectivo Todo Poder al Pueblo
El miércoles, septiembre 19, 2012, residentes llevaron a cabo un Tribunal del Pueblos por la Justicia en el Café on A Street de Oxnard. Miembros de la comunidad discutieron la actual crisis de abuso y brutalidad policial y lograron documentar más de 30 casos de mala conducta y abuso policial. Además, los amigos cercanos y la familia de Robert Ramírez—víctima de la brutalidad policial por OPD—compartieron testimonios y recuerdos de Robert, un joven muy cariñoso y una gran persona.
En seguida está una carta que se presentó a Jefe Jeri Williams y el Concejo Municipal de Oxnard el 25 de septiembre, 2012.
Septiembre 25, 2012
Jefe Jeri Williams,
Nuestra comunidad ha organizado tres movilizaciones y ha difundido miles de folletos en nuestros barrios para llamar la atención sobre la muerte injusta de Robert Ramírez, quien murió bajo custodia policial el 23 de junio de 2012. Hemos asistido a la reunión de Comisión de Relaciones Comunitarias y en las reuniones del Concejo Municipal de Oxnard dos veces con el fin de exigir que la brutalidad policial y el abuso se abordarán a través de los medios “apropiados.” Además, nosotros solicitamos el establecimiento de una Junta de Comunidad de Policías de Revisión de Quejas independiente, que le permitirá a nuestra comunidad hacer denuncias de abuso policial, mala conducta y brutalidad sin temor y con la confianza de que estas quejas serán revisadas de manera independiente. A partir de hoy, nuestras demandas aún no se han cumplido por el consejo ni cualquier departamento de Oxnard.
Como resultado, la comunidad se reunió en un Tribunal del Pueblo por la Justicia el Miércoles, 19 de septiembre del 2012, donde se discutió la actual crisis de abuso y brutalidad policial en Oxnard. Se logró documentar más de 30 incidentes aislados de abuso policial y mala conducta, así como otros 10 miembros de la comunidad que fueron testigos de estos incidentes traumáticos. El Tribunal también escuchó el testimonio de familiares y amistades de Robert Ramírez, quienes compartieron sus recuerdos del verdadero Robert, un joven hermoso, tranquilo, y pacifico.
La foto difundida a los medios de comunicación es una clara evidencia de que sus heridas, lesiones y trauma facial fueron causa de la violencia por manos de la policía de Oxnard. Con base en esta foto y las circunstancias detalladas por los testigos del crimen, el Tribunal del Pueblo por la Justicia ha establecido su veredicto. Nosotros, como una comunidad auto-determinada, reservamos el derecho a defender nuestros propios estándares de justicia. Como tal, nuestro Tribunal de Justicia declara Jefe Jeri Williams y los siete oficiales no identificadas como CULPABLES de la muerte de Robert Ramírez. El Tribunal del Pueblo por la Justicia ha determinado que las personas mencionadas se han convertido en fugitivos ya que se han negado a responder por su agresión y hostilidad hacia la comunidad. Hacemos un llamado a los siete oficiales, y sus dirigentes, a presentarse por este delito. No presentarse resultará en nuestra defensa continua sobre este tema, incluyendo la difusión de materiales que dejarán claro que estos fugitivos de la justicia comunitaria se deben enfrentar y rendir cuentas.
El Tribunal del Pueblo por la Justicia también pide que el Consejo de la Ciudad se dirija al problema de la brutalidad policial como un problema central en nuestra comunidad mediante una audiencia oficial en una reunión del consejo. Si el consejo debe separar el caso particular de Robert, por su actual investigación, se podría establecer una audiencia general durante una reunión del consejo. El consejo ya no puede utilizar esto como una excusa para abandonar su responsabilidad de investigar el enfoque patológico y violento de la policía bajo su cargo. También exigimos una actualización pública que confirma que el jefe se ha puesto en contacto e invitado al Fiscal General para investigar el caso de Robert Ramírez como declaró en su carta el 12 de septiembre de 2012.
Para más información y/o para responder a esta carta, comuníquese con el Colectivo Todo Poder al Pueblo:
805-328-4763 o a través del correo electrónico: firstname.lastname@example.org
Francisco Romero, para el Colectivo Todo Poder al Pueblo
Additional photographs available via Facebook / Fotografías adicionales disponibles a través de Facebook: OXNARD 9/19/12: People’s Tribunal and “Know Your Rights” Workshop
This gallery contains 3 photos.
(Photographs from Oxnard People’s Assembly 08.20.12 courtesy of CTPaP Media Operations) FACT SHEET Robert Ramírez On the night of June 23, 2012, family friends of Robert Ramírez called 911 upon realizing that he needed medical attention after ingesting stimulants. Shortly after, Oxnard Police officers confronted 26-year-old Ramírez on the 1100 block of South ‘L’ Street. […]
Another police/militarized Driver License/Citizenship Status checkpoint this Saturday night 1.28.2012 in Oxnard
• CHECKPOINT CONFIRMED!
Oxnard Police will hold a Driver License/Citizenship checkpoint(s) this Saturday, Jan 28, 2012 between the hours of 7pm and 3am at an undisclosed location(s) in Oxnard. There is a possibility that there will be multiple checkpoints. See link: http://www.oxnardpd.org/pressreleases/1590
Join the resistance against the targeting of undocumented people of color and report checkpoint locations in Oxnard by calling our tip hotline at (805) 3-AVISO-3
Please leave pertinent information such as the time you saw the checkpoint, major cross streets, nearby landmarks/businesses, and the direction of traffic that is going toward the checkpoint(s).
• ENSURING AB353 COMPLIANCE:
Stand up to police abuses and bullying! Call the Oxnard police station and demand that they observe AB353, the new California law that curbs many police checkpoint abuses. Unlicensed drivers now have the right to call a licensed driver to pick up their car, eliminating the mandatory 30-day impoundment and compounded fines. Demand to speak to the Chief of Police Jeri Williams ( She policed 22 years in Arizona-a state notorious for targeting undocumented workers of color): 805.385.7624.
Colectivo Todo Poder Al Pueblo will be on hand at the checkpoint(s) this weekend to warn drivers that the checkpoints violate our human rights and to document whether Oxnard police will comply and observe AB353. Ultimately, we demand to see drivers licenses become reinstated and accessible for everyone regardless of citizenship status. Equal rights for all drivers!
See you in the streets!-Todo Poder Al Pueblo