Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

July 16, 2020

Santa Rosa human rights report details Pomo shot in mouth with sting ball grenade by police

Sting ball grenade
Marqus Red Bear Martinez

Human Right Violations in Santa Rosa, California

Policing the Black Lives Matter Protests

Update: Class Action suit results in settlement

The Press Democrat reports:

The city of Santa Rosa will pay $1.9 million to five people injured in protests that followed the death of George Floyd, including a man whose face was shattered by a sting ball grenade.

The settlement is the largest in the city’s history involving a civil rights lawsuit and the Santa Rosa Police Department, City Attorney Sue Gallagher confirmed through a city spokeswoman Friday.

Marqus Martinez and Michaela Staggs filed the lawsuit last year, saying they were peacefully protesting and filming police when they were injured by so-called “less lethal” projectiles fired by officers. Three other plaintiffs later joined the suit.

Read article:

Previous post at Censored News:
New report details testimony of Marqus 'Red Bear' Martinez, Pomo, who was shot in the mouth with a sting ball grenade by Santa Rosa police. Liz Martinez, Pomo, said, "I'm a student nurse. I'm a real estate agent. And I still fear the police here. When I see my brother's face that night, and he told me no officers came to his aid, once he was shot."

By Sonoma County Commission on Human Rights
Published: July 10, 2020

The Sonoma County Commission on Human Rights has released a groundbreaking report on police violence against protesters over the last weeks. "Human Right Violations in Santa Rosa California - Policing the Black Lives Matter Protests," details the excessive use of force and human rights abuses perpetrated on the public by the Santa Rosa Police Department(SRPD) and other law enforcement agencies during protests following the murder of George Floyd.

Not limited to current events, the report places a meticulous lens on the historical climate of white supremacy and racism within the county, citing a direct link to the brutality and racial profiling of Sonoma County law enforcement agencies, also shown in the disproportionate targeting and abuse of Black, Indigenous and Latinx protesters. SRPD also utilized aggressive kettling tactics, deployed teargas on minors and families, and utilized rubber bullets, stingball and chalk grenades, causing extreme injuries and trauma, most notably in the case of Indigenous Pomo protester Marqus 'Red Bear' Martinez.

Beginning on May 30th, the Commission was overwhelmed with incident reports of severe human rights violations during protest, arrest and detention of the public. These ranged from extreme use of force, physical and emotional abuse, to groping and insinuations of sexual assault against arrested female protesters, racial profiling and targeting of BIPOC protesters, denial of medical treatment, refusal to provide names and badge numbers, targeting of street medics, and retaliation, denial of social distancing, phone calls, water and medical attention at the Main Adult Detention Facility. Equally troubling was the lack of action on the part of law enforcement and the District Attorney to arrest, charge and prosecute drivers that attempted to, or were successful in ramming into protesters, now numbering at least eight occurrences, with more emerging. Highly disturbing are reports of police collusion with outside agitators to cause damage, harm and destabilize peaceful protest efforts, thereby justifying extreme use of force. Seeing that statements and press conferences released by law enforcement and elected officials were in direct conflict with these reports, the Commission brokered a meeting on Juneteenth with Santa Rosa Mayor Tom Schwedhelm and Santa Rosa Police Chief Rainer Navarro, with assistance from County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, to allow injured BIPOC protesters to safely confront the City of Santa Rosa with their accounts.

Out of a follow up discussion with protesters to identify demands, this report was developed to demand accountability and inform the public of the truth. These demands include an independent investigation of SRPD, a ban on the use of military grade weaponry on the public, and calls for the firing and criminal investigations of the officers who perpetrated the abuse. The report is being submitted to the Santa Rosa City Council, the County Board of Supervisors, the California Department of Justice, United States Commission on Civil Rights, the United States Department of Justice, and the United Nations Human Rights Committee, among others.

a. Marqus “Red Bear” Martinez, Native American, Pomo protester 1. Allegations of Lawsuit by Marcus Martinez Marqus Martinez (Marqus) is a 33-year-old Native American and a member of the Pomo Indian Tribe. He is a father of five, and a surviving victim of police brutality. Marcus was a plaintiff and one of the former inmates in the jail “yard counseling” lawsuit that was settled by the County of Sonoma for $1.7 Million in 2018. On Sunday May 31, 2020, Marqus attended a peaceful demonstration in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in downtown Santa Rosa near the Old Courthouse Square. As the number of peaceful protesters grew, mostly young people in their teens and twenties, so did the number of police officers dressed in militarized riot gear. While peacefully protesting with others, Marqus took a knee and invited the officers to take a knee with him in solidarity, but he received no response. After approximately thirty minutes, tactical teams of police in riot gear approached the protesters and began firing teargas into the peaceful crowd. A tear gas canister exploded next to Marqus, causing shortness of breath and his eyes to tear up. Other protesters provided baking soda mixed with water to help stop the burning. 16 | Page The crowd dispersed. Many peaceful protesters, including Marqus, withdrew several blocks to the intersection of Mendocino and College Avenues. Protesters began to loosely congregate at the intersection. Marqus turned to face the advancing police and again took a knee, raising his hands in the air to show he was not a threat, but as the officers advanced in a phalanx, they again began to fire more tear gas and rubber bullets in the direction of the protesters. In response, Marqus stood up and began filming the police with his cell phone, calling out that the police were firing on innocent people. Only a few short seconds into his filming, police fired a sting ball grenade directly into Marqus' face. The grenade impacted Marqus' mouth and exploded. The force of the explosion ripped Marqus' face open and destroyed his phone. Video of this event was filmed by Marqus and submitted to legal counsel. Marqus’ upper lip was split in three places up to his nose, and his teeth had been broken off and driven into the roof of his mouth. One tooth was broken off and driven all the way through his tongue. His jaw was broken in multiple locations, and he was concussed. A friend drove him to a Santa Rosa hospital as Marqus tried to hold his face together. When he arrived at the hospital, he didn't recognize his own face. The hospital was unable to treat wounds of his severity, and transported Marqus to Stanford's emergency department where he immediately underwent extensive surgery. Marqus has continued to receive additional surgeries in an effort to bring his face back to a facsimile of its previous appearance, and will need dental implants.
2. Statement of Liz Martinez, Native American, Pomo protester “The zip ties on their wrists were extremely tight. When they asked their arresting officers their names, they didn't give it to them. They weren't read their rights. All of that is not okay. All rights were violated at a peaceful protest. When I - I was there with my brother the night of the protest. I seen him on his knees, with his hands up, asking your officers, our officers, who are supposed to protect us in this town, to just kneel, take a kneel - if you have, you know, any remorse for what it is going on. They did not. Do I feel anger? Yes. Because also my brother was in a lawsuit with this county that they won against the [Sonoma County Sheriff] for brutality in those cells at our corrections facility. Was he targeted? That is another question on my mind that keeps me up at night. I'm a mother as well. I have to raise my children in this county. I feel unsafe. I have no criminal record. I'm a student nurse. I'm a real estate agent. And I still fear the police here. When I see my brother's face that night, and he told me no officers came to his aid, once he was shot. Ambulance literally were told to go that did try to come towards him, from the police. Look at his face. [photograph was shown] How does that make you guys feel? Well, let me tell you, as a sister to this man, Marqus, all I can do is feel so much pain and anger to see my brother's face, and to see his children, who seen him for the first time after this. They all cried. 17 | Page No one should go through that. Especially, I understand if he was in the wrong and that was what your officers are trained to handle this situation. But in this case, he was innocent. He could have been killed by that rubber grenade that was used and shot directly in his face, along with those other protesters who were shot in the face, as well. And when I met them at another protest, I cried. That should never happen in this county, in any county. If you don't, if this doesn't make you feel anything, that shows the root of the problem within your police department, and these officers being hired in their positions. Still, I looked at my brother and it saddens me, because he had went under reconstructive surgery, and is still dealing with the trauma of that night. So, I am asking you guys to hold these officers accountable. You as the chief and their command, find out which officers did this, because they were out there. Someone did this. Fire them. This is not a slap on the wrist, because my brother could not be here today. And I'm very thankful that he still is [alive]. I'm asking for justice for everybody here. We shouldn't feel this way when you guys took that oath to protect us.” 
b. Enriquez “Hank” Gonzales, Native American, Pomo protester “You know, I have a lot of anxiety. You know, I been protesting, even before that, you know, I was there that day that Marqus got hit in the face. And the next day, he had to go to surgery, and all that. Once he was ready to get released, me and Elizabeth, we went to pick him up at Stanford University and soon as we got to town, he was ready to go protest again. And I was, you know, he really motivated me. Since then, I been out protesting. I been here and in San Francisco. And one thing, I just want it to stop. I'm tired of our people dealing with police brutality. It affects them mentally, just you know, they heal from scars and bruises, that's just the beginning. They carry this stuff for their whole lives. Anytime they get arrested . . . any time they get pulled over for a traffic stop, you know it always goes around a bit. And I just want to change it, I don't want the next generation to go through what we went through. You know, they're the next future for you. And you guys are pointing guns at them and threatening them, for exercising their rights. And when we exercise our rights, we still get targeted. The only thing it takes to stop them, is to take the camera out and start. It shouldn't take that, you know. Anyone can be professional, it’s possible in the hiring, like that, protocol, and you know, anything like that. It takes a lot for me to be here. It takes a lot for me to go out and protest, and being arrested, and stuff like that, I don't regret none of that. I'm doing it for you know, like I'm doing it for the next generation, I'm doing it for everybody. And if that means, you know, taking my freedom away, so be it. As long as I can make some changes, I'm willing to make that sacrifice.”

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This is effing horrifying! Get these wild pigs off the street! SRPD, you racist police department without an ounce of pride, you suck, you bunch of cowards.