The Blue code of Silence and the case of Mark Garcia

root - Posted on 31 December 1969

by Tom McKay

On April 6, 1996, Mark Garcia was robbed and partially stripped of his clothing. The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) was called. Instead of helping Mark, the police beat him, pepper sprayed him, handcuffed him, stood on his back for more than 5 minutes, hog-tied him, and then threw him into the back of a police van. Although they took him to the hospital, Mark Garcia died as a result of this abuse.

The Garcia family filed a complaint with the Office of Citizenís Complaints (OCC). They charged the 7 police officers who were involved in this incident with 9 counts of procedure violations. The OCC agreed that there were violations and brought the verified complaint to the San Francisco Police Commission for a public hearing.

The Police Commission refused to hold a public hearing of the evidence, and referred the case to the SFPD for a secret hearing. On May 31, 2000, San Francisco Chief of Police, Fred Lau, decided that none of the officers had done anything wrong, therefore no discipline or punishment was necessary.

This is how the SFPD protects its officers from equal justice under the law. No police officer wants to arrest their friend and comrade for committing a crime. The Blue Brotherhood protects its members from all criminal charges and investigations. The ìCode of Silenceî keeps the public from learning about the criminal behavior of police officers. All the good, honest, whistleblowers are run out of the police department so they will not expose the criminals.

The members of the Police Commission are appointed by the mayor of San Francisco. This protective attitude on the part of Chief Lau, the Police Commission, and the mayor of San Francisco, is exactly the kind of attitude that helped to create the Ramparts scandal in the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD protected their officers so well from embarrassment that they filled the department with criminals. Now the LAPD and the City of Los Angeles are being sued for hundreds of millions of dollars and many criminal convictions are being overturned. This same thing could easily happen anywhere.

Mark Garcia was the victim of a crime before the police even arrived at the scene. It is normally acceptable to tolerate mistakes that people make, but when the police are attacking people and using deadly force, there is no room for tolerating life-threatening mistakes. These seven police officers are responsible for the death of an innocent person. They should be held accountable for their errors. They should not be allowed to continue in the police department where they could easily kill even more people.

The Garcia family also filed a civil suit against the SFPD and the 7 officers involved. On December 4, 1998, Judge David A. Garcia (no relation to the Mark Garcia family) threw out the civil suit filed by Markís family. On April 14, 2000 Markís family appealed the decision of Judge Garcia. This appeal was heard on September 29, 2000. The judges who heard this appeal are expected to issue their decision in one or two months.

After four years of trying to find justice by going through proper channels, Mark Garciaís relatives have found that the system is designed to protect criminal behavior by police officers. There is not much opportunity left for arriving at a just resolution of this incident. The family is hoping that District Attorney Terrence Hallinan will hold an open grand jury hearing to examine the factual evidence in this case.

Danny Garcia, the brother of Mark Garcia, is the president of Families Against Murder by Law Enforcement (FAMLE). This group is composed of relatives of people who have been murdered by law enforcement officers. According to Danny, more than 30 people have been killed by the SFPD since the San Francisco Police Commission was formed. Not one police officer has been fired as a result of their participation in these killings.

In memory of his brother, who was killed by the police on April 6, 1996, Danny Garcia and his friends hold a monthly vigil and protest. On the 6th of every month, they meet in San Francisco at Valencia and 17th Streets from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Everyone who cares about truth and justice is invited to come and participate.

This criminal behavior is not limited to the SFPD. Police departments everywhere are ignoring the corruption and abuse of power within law enforcement, and investing in promoting the public image of the police officer as our hero, no matter what he does. Police everywhere are ignoring our Constitutional rights, our laws, our human rights, and basic standards of morality and ethics. Democracy is being subverted by law and order run amok.

In 1999 the Stolen Lives Project published the second edition of a book titled: Stolen Lives. This book documents more than 2,000 incidents where people in the United States were killed by law enforcement officers. There is an epidemic of police brutality in the United States, and this book is part of a growing movement to document it and stop it.

Every year, the October 22nd Coalition , sponsors a nationwide protest against police brutality, oppression, and the criminalization of a generation of our youth. As a symbol of support for this protest, they ask everybody to wear black clothing on October 22nd, whether you come to a protest or not. This year, October 22nd falls on a Sunday. Protests will be held in major cities all over the United States. In San Francisco, the demonstration will be held as follows:

11:00 am to 12:00 noon.. Rally at Mission and 24th Streets, at the BART station.

12:00 noon to 1:00 pm... March to Dolores Park.

1:00 pm to 2:00 pm....... Rally at Dolores Park.

In unity there is strength. Come to the protest this year and show your support for the effort to stop police brutality. This epidemic of murder and criminal violence by law enforcement officers must stop. We will never stop it by ignoring it. We must speak out against it and join together in protest.

For more information call the San Francisco Bay Area office for the October 22nd Coalition on Wednesday or Thursday evenings between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm at 415-864-5153.


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