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Harrowing Bystander Video of Police Killing a Homeless Man in L.A. Sparks Protests

Natasha Hakimi Zapata
Assistant Editor and Poetry Editor
Natasha Hakimi Zapata is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Latin American Literature at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. She also holds a Creative Writing M.F.A. from Boston University and both a…
Natasha Hakimi Zapata

A camera phone video, made Sunday morning, in which Los Angeles police officers fatally shot an unarmed homeless man identified by witnesses as Africa was uploaded onto Facebook by a man named Anthony Blackburn and had drawn over 4 million views as of Monday morning. The video, posted below, shows several officers pinning Africa down on the sidewalk while others detain a woman who picked up one of their batons.

Then, just seconds into the violent video, shots are heard, as are bystanders’ horrified remarks. “Six motherfucking police,” repeats an outraged voice behind the camera, “just killed this man.”

Less than a year after the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York at the hands of police officers, the killing of Africa is the most recent visual reminder of the seemingly unchecked state-sponsored violence that continues to take lives.

An “emergency call to action” was organized and took place in Pershing Square in downtown L.A. on Sunday night.

Read more about the incident, as reported by the Los Angeles Times:

Authorities said Sunday night that Los Angeles police fatally shot a man on skid row during a struggle over an officer’s weapons…Cmdr. Andrew Smith said officers assigned to the LAPD’s Central Division and Safer Cities Initiative — a task force focused on skid row — responded to the location about noon Sunday after receiving a 911 call reporting a possible robbery.

Two officers and a sergeant fired at the man, who was pronounced dead at the scene, Smith said. It was unclear how many times the officers fired, although at least five shots can be heard on the video recording that captured the shooting…Smith said that, based on the video recording, it was unclear what the officers told the man before they fired. He said investigators would use audio enhancement software to determine what exactly was said and when.

Police have not identified the dead man or said how many officers were involved, or how many shots were fired. The man was declared dead at a hospital shortly after the shooting, which occurred about noon, according to police spokesman Sgt. Barry Montgomery…About 9:30 p.m., dozens of people gathered at Pershing Square to protest the police shooting.

“The heavens are crying right now,” said General Jeff Page, known around skid row as the “mayor” of the poverty-stricken neighborhood, as rains poured on the crowd gathered around him. He went over the events of the day that led to the fatal shooting of Africa, whom Page called “one of our loved ones.”

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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