Oscar Perez-Giron, Rest in Power

On June 30th, 2014, a 23 year old man that had been riding on the Seattle
Light Rail, Oscar Perez-Giron, was fatally shot by a King County Sheriff’s
Deputy at the SoDo Station. Authorities stated that he had neglected to pay
the $2.50 fare. According to a Fox 13 source, an eyewitness account states
that at the time of the shooting, the man was pinned by two much larger Sound
Transit Security Guards up against a glass wall. The deputy, the witness
states, reached around one of the guards with his gun drawn and shot the
victim point blank three times in the abdomen. When asked what prompted the
fatal shooting, the witness stated:

“…the guy was resisting, but there was three security guards and a King
County Sheriff’s Deputy. I mean, there’s four people against one, there’s
plenty of other ways to subdue somebody rather than just shoot them…they
could have subdued him in other ways….I saw that sheriff reach for his gun
and it didn’t take him long to reach for it.”

Mainstream media reports from the Sheriff’s Office indicate the threat of a
brandished handgun, but this tactic has been used against victims of police
violence before. Oscar Grant, the subject of the documentary “Fruitvale
Station,” (2013) was murdered by BART Police officer Johannes Mehserle in a
comparable execution style in Oakland, 2010. Grant was face-down on the BART
platform, allegedly resisting arrest. Mehserle claimed that Grant started to
reach for his waistband when Mesherle pulled his gun and shot him, but later
it was revealed that Grant did not possess any weapons at his time of death.
John T. Williams, a 50-year-old seventh generation Nitinaht carver of the
Nuu-chah-nul First Nations, was fatally shot four times when Ian Birk of the
Seattle Police Department watched him cross the street near Denny Triangle
wielding a legal sized, common woodcarving knife and a block of cedar.
Williams, deaf in one ear, did not hear the request to stop from the officer,
and Birk decided to open fire.
While all three examples illustrate the foundations of the racist, fatal
practices implemented by police and private security, the most recent murder
at the hands of the King County Sheriff’s Department makes a bold statement:
people are being murdered for trying to meet their basic needs. It should be
no surprise that this example clearly illustrates the real job of the police,
as well as private security: to justify their own existence and
simultaneously protect private property, once mistaken for public transport.
Consider the distinction between King County Metro Transit and Sound
Transit, one a public domain and the other private. Increasingly, as bus
routes are cut, commuters are forced to take the Light Rail, built to
expedite the process of gentrification on the South side. Often riders are
able to appeal to bus drivers to take transit they can’t afford, but a
private security team is not suited for the same plea. They are meant to
protect property, much in the same way the police are. The implications of
this murder do not bode well for the people struggling to live in
neighborhoods historically affordable to them, who are increasingly priced
In the wake of more conversations surrounding “living wages” and the
possibility of one of the nation’s highest minimum wages, one can’t help
but wonder why the impetus for deservingness is predicated upon one’s
ability or desire to pay to live. This piece contends that food, shelter,
transport, clean water, and camaraderie should be free, instead of privatized
and fatally guarded from poor and working class communities, stretched across
race, gender, able-bodies, and queerness.
Rest in Power, Oscar.

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