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Los Siete De La Raza...

Los Siete De La Raza... image Los Siete De La Raza... image
Parent Issue
Month
October
Year
1970
OCR Text

On May 1, 1969, a crowd of people demonstrated in San Francisco for the release of Huey P. Newton on bail. That same day, in the Mission District of the city, another cop hit the dust after a tangle with some young latinos who seemed to be outlfroni Huey's mold ff The events of that day vere very complicated. It probablymvon't ever be known who fired the shM that killed this cop, Joe Brodnft, or whether it was fired intentionMly or by accident. The young me were moving some property into a f house where one of them, José Rios, med. Two plainsclothes cops were cmising down the street in an unmarked car. They saw the young latinos and jumped out to "investígate" McGoran and Brodnik were well known in the Mission District for their racism and harrassment of brown people. They had both grown up in the Mission, and although it had changed since their time from a white to a brown district, the two cops considedred it there private property. They really enjoyed their job as undercover men. McGoran, especially, had a long history i calling people the foulest rac names and beating them up. He was a nervous man, constantly usi tranquilizers, and he hid hifl behind the extra big .41 magnuH he" carried. It was this gun thaB Rrodnik. McGoran and Bfl stopped the brothers. McGori them to stay put. Brodnik, whoHR short distance away, told thmn to show some identification, andlwhen José Rios said he had his upltairs, told him to go up and get it. Jok, and two others were already ujstairs ' when McGoran started bawlilg out Brodnik for letting them out Ef his sight. Mario Martínez, wh was sitting on the stove, told McGo an he smelled like a brewery, while Gary Lesacallet, the tallest of the oung men there, exchanged a few isults with McGoran. McGoran may ormay nol have been drunk that morni'ng (he iKually was). He may or may noli have forgotten to take his lusual tranquilizer. In any case, he wis just doing his usual thing when e attacked Gary and slammed hn up against a pillar next to the hwise. What he didn't count on was thafSr and the others would fight back when attacked: soon McGoran was down on the sidewalk, being beaten. tjometime during this fight McGoran produced his gun from the hidden holster inside his pants. first bullet to be fired hit Joe Brodnik, who was just then rushing over to stop the fight. This kind of situation wasn't new to Brodnik and he had often told McGoran he was too mean, too violent. A second shot was fired (McGoran ..claims it was aimed at him__but "miraculously" missed) and since, why did they flee if they were innocent? The behavior of the pólice in the next few hours provides the answer. Thirsting to kill in revenge, they bombarded the Rios house with tear gas and ammunition, literally wrgckithe plac&uLundúuLii we's H-yeB" sister. mJíes they were even shouting a6iiï$i:::;::: other thinking they were having a gunfigbt with the brothers. The pólice had no idea what hatl happened, or that McGorans's gur had been used, and they pictured a bunch of gangsters with a whole arsenal of weapons upstairs. This is exacüy how the incident came over in the papers and on TV. The brothers were pictured as "hoodlums" and "latin hippie types" -the mayor himself called them "punks.' McGoran and Brodnik were pictured as heroic officers; all their exploits and medals for bravery were publicized, though of course none of the racist brutality McGoran was famous for was mentioned. Brodnik's v funeral was deseribed as Ritos fijíiií lart ïcfeaJiat Cop... tfis -wtsdom, broth Wfiiáitvóijtiií ransaclK;!Jpiiip!;;3;; questioKiatiÜJiiiíibJíft. over W!:JÍÍ$i;iÍ:iÍÍJigÍ Marti:::;:;gi Melër$3i:;:;$pn:#; as it mJÍWiíS scensiiiiiiillfêjisi nis wM$E&M&m in despera tion, they held up a bather near Santa Cruz, and took his car. The bather called pólice and the six. brothers were arrested as they drove into Santa Cruz. They were lucky they weren t caught in San Francisco or they might not be alive today. All six brothers were booked, even though Nelson and Tony had not even been there, and McGoran himself could not positively identify Tony at the lineup (the other "eyewitnesses"dideven worse.and a few made completely incorrect identifications). From that point was to lead to the prosecution of all six for murder, assault with intent to murder, and burglary. The six brothers were not guilty of Brodnik's death, but they are guijáta of a certain amount of prU ancyijdsjybbornness. TlB :íltoír{ttt;;:tt:::;s ass. ïey recogwzed the twomgs fojM they were, and defended themselves. They are all products of the growingBrownconsciousness. Mario, Tony and Nelson were all students at the College of San Mateo, which experienced a violent Third World strike the winter bef ore. the same time as the strike at San Francisco State. The brothers were part of a unique 'College Readiness Program" which provided special tutoring and counseling for students of color so They could make it in the white college world and at the same time maintain pride in their own black or brown identity. The BBllege Readiness ProgrifiwSPHBnter of revolutionary thinktng:gii that otherwise lily-white camé'S José Ríos, the youngest ijMhe six, was stilt a senior in high semol, but í&iii&eády; l" $ccepted:1 San ; tóteo for the ryext year. Tony, : Miioi;:;;iong his oldestfrrenAlgiiinilies hav-më-GneWneTvHiWnrorn El iiJIMÉtiB eight years before. 0j$8tö$i&iMscar also went to San PfíCi oíS College Readiness ÖjsBiat education should iíp;fi;ÍRÍlBclass privilege: Kie'riegíSSiwi have the opi:;::ove himself. Tony, Siií!':ííi$all tried to recruit iiiiíppiliMs from the streets :i::i3:öiiiijii:iiiiït$:iStf Mission. to go up ;:;:iii:;ia:;f iptte college of San i;;Si;We street brothers B n the program ■iíííSíEBUet and Bebe ixjiji' and Bebe had MmWWmM the cops since :;;;:;;j;:iÖii;;;grly teens, and ifeBi;iiiëiêiJ:;$èöt7outh Authoritv more aware brothers in the prisons, and through the new militancy on the streets, that Gary and Bebe started getting their political education. "I always knew the Man as a pig and a dog," Gary says, "but not as an exploiter or oppressor." Bebe became a revolutionary, and could not be seen without a copy of "Che Speaks in his back pocket. The arrest of the six shook up a lot of people in the Mission. The pólice terrorism that followed the tieath of Brodnik made it very clear to them thatJiLV had no rights and no power ïnmeiMown community. The fact that twlof those charged with murder were n even present at the scène and at least one of the otherswere upstairlwhen the shooting occurred. ■home very vividly the fact ■could have been any of us . Several of their closest friends- Jose's brother Oscar, people from San Mateo and San Francisco Sot together to try to arrange some legal defense for the hrothers. They named their group LOS SIETE DE LA RAZA- the Seven of the People- to ■nclude Gio Lopez, who was still free. Thej Mission is full of poverty program bureaucrats, Tio Tacos, andstool pigeons fjr the [ Joseph Alioto. At first. sonie of the people offered to help Ijoï Siete il they would keep politics oil of tle case. The very thing that fincHly ïappened was what the iheralsjnd bureaucrats feared: that l!off5W would begin to awaken the people i d exposé the nature of their oppressu Moi welcome help carne in the form of the Black Panther Party. Bobby ! :ale recognized that it was time foi the Panthers to ally themselves w ;h the revolutionary forces in the bro i community, and seized on the opp -tunity to help Los Siete The Pai hers gave not only political advice, inancial help and publicity. but mos important of all. introduced their ch (f attorney, Charles Garry. to the fan lies of Los Siete, and convinced ïem that Garry's style of aggres ive, uncompromising. political defense. was the best that their so s could get. As arry looked into the matter, he foum that the different defendants had di srent interests and would need dif ;rent lawyers. Also, the case was im ensely complicated and the workJoi Iwas enormous. Extensive investig tion had to be done of McGon 's past- for Garry quickly concluc i that McGorán was the real guilty { rty in the case. ■mmhP lawyers now make up the team defending Los Siete. Garry is defending José Rios and the Martínez brothers. Michael Kennedy, longhaïred, outspoken defender of Tim Leary and the Fort Hood 38 , is representing Bebe Melendez. Richard Hodge, who worked with Garry on the successful Oakland . . .The Seven of the Race continued from page 23 Seven defense, and also represents many rock bands, is defending Gary Lescallet. And R.J. Engel, a longtime iriend of the black and brown students at San Mateo, is defending Nelson Rodríguez. The brothers were kept in the dismal confines of San Francisco County jail for 14 months before their trial even started. Despite San Fransiseo's reputation as a liberal city, the county jail serves some of the worst food its more experienced convicts have ever tasted; provides no recreation or fresh air, and doesn't even let the brothers read the books that are sent to them. The delays were caused mostly by pre-trial hearings and a crowded coart calendar. The.lawyers argued lor dismissal of the charges on a number of grounds: illegal constitution of the grand jury (all white and rich); illegal constitution of the petit jury (non-English speaking kitins were at the time not allowed to register to vote, and the jury is picked Irom voter lists), of course the judge rlenied both these motions, but the record was made for appeal. Tlien a final delay .was cuased A-hen the judge, Joseaph Karesh, bugged out. The garrulous old jurist msisted that he wasn't disqualifying liimself- that would imply prejudice. and "I have no prejudice". He claimed he was withdrawing from the case because Michael Kennedy had made a reference to his handling ol a not her highly publicized case, the trial of a white cop named O'Broen for killing a black man. Kennedy had made only the most fleeting ivtererence. and was careful to add that he did not mean it as a criticism. The sunersensitive KazTesh took umbrage. but it wasn't until 2 weeks later that he withdrew, shorUy after a quite different remark by Charles Garry that McGoran was a "racist, a liar and a drunk." The publicity in the Los Siete case had mounted tremendously, and Karesh, perhaps rightly, fea red the media, since he had gotten very bad publicity in the O'Brien case for allowing the racist defense lawyer to cali the black yitnesses "monkeys...hyenas...people with no moral honesty or integrity." In addition, Karesh was getting heavy pressures from the pólice and DA. 's office: Garry must be muzzled, or at least, quieted down. Karesh had a reputation for letting advocates in his courtroom talk too long : he seemed to like to trip on the sound of his and other people's fine words. even if he wasn't really listening to their meaning. A more tight-lipped and better-discipilined judge was required for this sensitive case. especially with Charles Garry, the veteran jury-charmer, involved. And so it was arranged- none too 'gracefully at that- that Los Siete's case would be transferred to Judge Laurence Mana - no legal scholar, but a disciplinarían in his own court, The trial began in late June. The jurorS were picked in a shorter time than expected: two weeks. Mana severely restricted the range of voirdire questions the attorneys could ask. The only question allowed, pertaining to prejudice, was, "Do you think you can be fair and impartial to bothsides?" The defense argued that this was not the kind of question that could reveal racism, and submitted questions it wanted to ask: do you believe in open housing; do you think the highest virtue a child an learn is obedience But the judge ruled such questions irrelevant, and so the defense had to decide on jurors by the look in their eyes and the vibes they sent off During the period of peremptory challenges the District Attorney, Thomas Norman excused several young black men, a young longhair, and a few young Mberals. Others were excused "for cause" because they said they could never under any circumstances vote for capital punishment. To qualify as a juror in a first degree murder case you have to say you would at least consider capital punishment. Considering all the thing as working against Los Siete, the jury is a favorable one. Among its most hopeful members are a longhaired chicano post office clerk (he looks white) ; a young secretary who has a peace symbol in her window; a retired sheet metal worker; and (believe it or not) a baldheaded bank bureaucrat. These people, and a handful of others on the jury, respond well to the altérnate joking and deadseriousnessof the defense.lawyers. In varying degrees, they seem to be aware of what's so obvbvious to the supporters of the Los Siete who sit in the courtroom: the arbitrary unreason of the judge, and the utter bankruptcy of the prosecution. The prosecution has calíed five vvitnesses so far (out of a possible40). The first was the autopsy surgeon, who verified that Brodnik had died Irom a bullet shot at a distance of six inches. During nis testimony, the DA sueceeded in entering into evidence alot of gory, inflammatory pictures of the corpse. The second witness was Mrs. Ruth Horenstein, a well-tailored, uptight, middle-aged lady who Uves in the quiet, respectable Sunset District of the city. She testified that her house had been robbed on May 1, 1969, after she and her husband went off to work. The list of stolen items was long and ludicrous: it included dirty bedsheets. a Masonic ring, her son's boy scout emblem, some Mextcan 'rattlers", inseribed "Ruth" and "Larry", a Chinese brass gong, etc. The oniy items of value were two TV sets (one 24" color; the other, remóte control, for watching in bed) and a KLHstereo. Mrs. Horenstein added (many times) that her toy poodle was found bleetfing, but her grief was soover dramati zed that I doubt it had mttch effect on the jury. She also said she noticed a suspicious-íooking person "loitering" on her corner as she drove off to work, but she couldn't identify him. Months before, she had told the pólice it "looked like" Gio Lopez, but by thé time of the trial, the D.A.was no longer referring to Gio at perhaps beczuse he had been arrested four times in various parts of the country, and each time he had been released before the fingerprints check carne back. Paul McGoran came next, and remained on the stand for over two weeks. Every day he popped at least 15 mg. of valium to keep his nerves .steady. He claimed he wasn't nervous - the valium was for a heart condition known as "tachyeardia", although he was already taking a few other pills for that. At any rate Mc Goran turned out to bé a mental and physical wreek, a mere shadow of the brutal foul-mouthed pig he had once been. Still in his mid-forties, he looks almost 60, and was applying for medical retirement from the force. McGoran's story, which he had changed at various times in pretrial hearings, was that he used no obscene language and was not aggressive to the brothers in any way. Gary Lescacallet started the fight with him ; then he went down and feit alot of people kicking him; heard Brodnik yell, "Look out, Paul, he's got your gun!"; then heard the shot. Atthe' time of the shot, he had blackéd out V' couldn't see but could still hear whát was going on- seconds later, ha regained his sight and ran fort cover; saw Gary Lescallet shoot at him and miss. Needless to say, the defense managed to piek apart most of this story) later, other prosecution witnesses also contradicted McGoran). Many times. Charles Garry accused McGoran of drawing the gun, aiming at Gary, whom he had knocked to the ground and shooting his partner by accident as Brodnik stepped between them. McGoran calmly took Garry's accusation. The valium kept him from losing his temper, but the jury could clearly see the pig was drugged. According to criminal law, the character of the victim of an alleged assault must be taken into account. But Judge Mana has refused to let the defense question McGoran about his background, his drinking habits, his past instances of violence, even the time when he was arrested and tried for assault on a teenager, or the time when he was supposed to take a lie detector test but got a 3ü-minute atlack of tachyeardia at the mere thought of it. AU these f acts came out in Garry's questions, but the D.A. always objected and the judge always sustained. Garry was told that character evidence might be admissible during the defense case. This was clearly illegal, since defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty; the burden rests with the prosecution, and the defense is not required to put on any case at all. The matter of identification had always been a tricky one for McGoran. In pretrial hearings, he had said at different times that five, six, seven, and an unknown number of young menwere there At the trial, he stuck to six (thus omitting Gio Lopez) and deffinitely identified Gary, Nelson, Mario, Bebe and José. Tony he was not "100 per cent sure of". The only evidence linking Tony to the crime thus far was a bJue Chevrolet registered in Tony's name from which the brothers were moving property into the house. Across the streêt from the home of José Rios lived a devoutly Catholic Polish family: parents and three daughters. The midclle daughter, aged 20, had a boyfriend (chicano) named David Caravantes. who used to piek her up every morning, eat breakfast with the family, and then take her to school. On the morning of May 1, 1969, Caravantes watched the shooting of Brodnik from the downstairs living room window, while his girlfriend, and hef mother and younger sister, watched from upstairs. Irene Jarzyna, the mother, was the witness foHowing Mc Goran . She came on cute at first, with her limited understanding öf English. By the end of the week, she was sinister, having contradicted herself many times, made a fooi of herself at least twice, and recklessly identified all six brothers as being at the scène (at the lineup she had identified only Mario and Tony). She also said the "boy" who shot the gun was short and stocky (implicating Mario) and fired it twice in rapid succession (or as she put it, "boom-boom"). This contradicted her hysterical statement to pólice on May 1 : "It was all so f ast, so fast-I'm not really sure who (did the shooting)." The highlight of Mrs. J's testimony came with her walking demonslration. Charles asked her how she could identify all six defendants now when at the lineup sbe could onlv piek out two. "By the way they walk," she answered, meaning their gait from the holding cell to their chaire. A distance of about 3 feet. Garry asked her to demónstrate these very unique walks that she could remember after 14 months. The woman ibr proceeded to slouch and sidle along in pitifully bad imitation of a kind of cool, gangster stride. She did this six times, one for each brother. The defendants broke up laughing, and the jurors could hardly contain themselves. A day later, Michael Kennedy askcd her please to repeat the demonstrationof Bebe's walk. Mrs. J seemed somewhat embarrassed about the situation she had gotten herself into- &the result of her own loud mouth and eagerness to support law and order. Kennedy made her demónstrate several times in the middle of the courtroom. Then he said, "Excuse me, aren't you confused? I seem to remember that was the walk you gave to Mario Martínez yesterday." After the fiasco of Mrs. Jarzyna, it was hard to take the prosecution seriously. Her 16-year-old daughter carne on next. She couldn't identify anybody (at the lineup she made one incorrect choice) but reiterated her mpther's story that a short boy shot Brodnik. In fact, she had run to get her glasses midway through the incident, and probably didn't see much. Next carne David Caravantes, whóm some of us thought would be the prosecution's suprise witness. But Caravantes only further confused matters by saying he heard McGoran cursing (specifically, calling José Ríos a "son of a bitch" which McGoran had denied, saw McGoran start the fight with Gary by throwing him up against the pillar, didn't see who did the shooting, but saw Gary take the gun from McGoran during their fight. When Garry started to cross examine, Caravantes took the fifth amendment on questions about his address and school. He had apparently used a false address to get into the College of Marin, but by taking the fifth he made it look far wor$e. After repeatedly denying he knew McGoran, Caravantes finally had to admit he had exchanged words with the man, had worked in the same store with him for a year, and on May 1. when questioned by pólice about the incident, asked first to talk to McGoran and clear up some details. Garry accused Caravantes of being a part-time pólice informer. The witness denied it, but it was clear by his manner (describing people as ''white male Americans") that he was at least a police-admirer. On the second day of Caravantes' Huey Newton was freed on bail. In the 16 months since LOS SIETE DE LA RAZA was founded, it has grown into a major forcé in the Mission District, probably the central forcé shaping the politics of brown youth in the área. With the intention of both serving and educating the people. Los Siete has begun two breakfast for children programs, a free people' clinic two fulltime doctors, a La Raza Legal Defense program with almost 200 partieipating lawyers, and a people's community newspaper; Basta Ya! (Ènough!), which has begun to teil people in the Mission the truth in simple language about the nature of their oppression at the hands of the pólice, the politicians, anti big business. They are also fighting the development plan to obliteratethe barrio and replace it with high-rent middleclass housing. The whole Mission has changed in the last year, and graffiti saying "Free Los Siete" lines the walls. As one member of the group said, "Los Siete's not a party, it's not an organization, not a movement; it's a way of life." This is a very costly trial. Please send contribuñons to Los Siete, c, .o Charles Garry, 341 Market St., SF