South Kern Sol, News Report, Alfredo Camacho
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – One year after the death of David Sal Silva, who was beaten by police outside a Bakersfield hospital, family, friends, and supporters gathered near Kern County Superior Court to commemorate his life and to put a spotlight on police brutality in the community.
Protesters greeted rush hour traffic with signs demanding accountability for police misconduct and exposed the names of the officers that were involved in Silva’s death.
Last year, seven sheriffs and two California Highway Patrol officers responded to a call about an intoxicated man outside Kern Medical Center. According to reports, Silva resisted the incoming officers as they tried to arrest him, prompting the nine officers to beat him with batons. Silva reportedly died in the scuffle, but not of the beating. The corner reported his death was caused by heart disease.
Eyewitnesses reported a different story — that Silva cried for help until his death. Their cell phones later were confiscated.
“We’ve waited over a year for answers,” said Ralph Silva, David Silva’s uncle. “The DA [District Attorney] and the Sheriff’s work hand in hand, as does the coroner. How can we have justice when the people investigating each other for wrongdoings investigate themselves?”
Silva specifically is challenging the coroner’s report and the District Attorney’s report, which he said was written in favor of the sheriff.
“[The] District attorney gave a report … but only talked about the sheriff’s,” said Silva.
Chris Silva, David Silva’s brother, said about their movement, “We’re going against the grain in a city that thinks it’s ok for the police to shoot someone.”
Those at the rally said part of the aim of the protest was to highlight how difficult it is to address police brutality in a conservative town, like Bakersfield, where the prevailing belief about police misconduct is that law and order can “do no wrong.”
Adrian Arista, 23, said he knows firsthand what it’s like to have his stories of police abuse and racial profiling dismissed by the community.
“They [police officers] don’t behave themselves like they’re supposed to,” said Arista. “We have to realize that there are other parts of the story, not just [that of the] the police.”
Bakersfield resident Sonia Gama, 28, lost a cousin to police violence.
“My cousin was murdered by BPD [Bakersfield Police Department],” said Gama, adding she now takes precautions around police. “I know how it feels when you have your loved one taken too soon by someone who’s supposed to protect you.”
Unlike Silva’s family, Gama said the memory of her slain cousin is lost.
“I really commend the Silvas because they’re not letting his memory die,” said Gama. “Our family just … let the memory of my cousin go, when neither of them should have been murdered.”