A week after George Floyd was murdered by the Minneapolis police, and in the midst of the subsequent protests, the police in Vallejo, California killed Sean Monterrosa. Sean Monterrosa, a 22-year-old Latinx man, was killed by the police while he was kneeling — unarmed and with his hands raised — in a parking lot outside of Walgreens in Vallejo, California. The police were responding to a call regarding “potential looters.” When the police arrived, they found Sean in the parking lot, “believed” he had a gun, and shot the kneeling man five times through the windshield of their own unmarked car. One of the five bullets hit him and took his life. The cops got word of a looter; no threat was posed by Monterrosa, but the cops murdered him as he knelt with his hands up. When the president of the United States tweets “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he is giving the green light to the racist police. He is telling them to operate freely and with impunity as they commit these crimes against Black and brown people.
Two weeks later, the Vallejo Police Department (VPD) is still denying access to the body cam footage and refusing to provide the name of the officer who killed Sean. In (yet another) clear example of the role of police unions, the police union also filed a temporary restraining order to prevent the city from releasing the name of the officer. As we have previously denounced, the police “union” is nothing more than a criminal association to protect their racist, oppressive, and anti-worker members and institution.
According to The Mercury News, the police officer has been identified through other sources as Jarret Tonn, who has had a long career as a cop. This was apparently the “fourth time in five years that Tonn has fired his gun at a person while on duty, including two shootings within six weeks in 2017, and a shooting in 2015 where he fired 18 times.”
He is not an exception: the VPD has a long record of violence and shootings. In the last ten years, this force shot at least 31 people, killing 17 of them. The Appeal revealed last year that, in Vallejo, “officers are rarely disciplined for using deadly force, even when the people they shoot are unarmed. No officer has been fired for their role in a police shooting in that time.” Even worse, the officers have been promoted. One of the most brutal, notorious cases was the tragic murder of Willie McCoy last year; six police officers fired 55 shots at the 20-year-old rapper while we was asleep in a parking lot.
Sean’s 24-year-old sister, Michelle Monterrosa, told The Guardian that “these officers feel they can do whatever they want.” She added: “Sean knew the system was made to oppress people of color. It hurt him to see … Sean was angry, he would say: ‘Why are they still killing us this way?’”
The family has denounced the police, noting the many times they stop and arrest Black and brown members of their community, without proof and just to harass them. The family stated that Sean had also been treated this way, deprived of his humanity. But he was human. He was an artist and he worked as a tutor. He read Malcolm X. Alongside millions of young people around the country and throughout the world, he had been involved in the protests demanding justice for George Floyd. In his final text to his sister, one hour before being killed, he asked her to sign a petition demanding that the four police officers involved in George’s killing be arrested.
We amplify the pain that Sean’s family is enduring; we share Sean’s rage at this system that oppresses the working class and the poor, Black and brown. We support his family’s search for justice, and we will continue his fight against racism and police brutality. The lives that are being stolen by the police will not be forgotten. Every day since Sean’s murder, his family has been demanding justice. Next Saturday June 20 at 3 pm, there will be a protest in Vallejo to demand justice for all those killed by the VPD.
To sign their petition you can go to https://www.standwithsean.com/.
To follow their latest news go to their instagram.
No justice. No peace.