Protesters Decry Police Violence at Altadena March

Ian Burke Jameson from Pasadenans and Altadenans Against Police Violence, leads the rally against police violence.Alice Meerson, of Pasadena, takes part in the rally against police violence. She said at the rally Protestors walk along Fair Oaks Avenue in protest against police violence in Pasadena and Altadena.Sum-aku Hi Ali, of Pasadena, takes part in the protest against police violence.Ian Burke Jameson, left, and Melissa Michelson, both from Pasadenans and Altadenans Against Police Violence. About 50 Protestors walk along Fair Oaks Avenue in protest against police violence in Pasadena and Altadena.Protestors walk along Fair Oaks Avenue in protest against police violence in Pasadena and Altadena.Randy Dulaney, of Pasadena, sells t-shirts that read About 50 Protestors walk along Fair Oaks Avenue in protest against police violence.

By BRIAN DAY | Photography by JAMES CARBONE

1:11 pm | April 14, 2018


Dozens of demonstrators gathered in Pasadena Saturday in solidarity with protesters outraged over last months fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark in Sacramento, as well as to call attention to local issues of alleged police brutality and demand reforms.

Members and supporters of the activist group Pasadenans and Altadenans Against Police Violence carried signs and chanted slogans demanding police be held accountable for the deaths of unarmed minorities as they made laps around the intersection of Fair Oaks Avenue and Woodbury Road.

The rally started and ended at the Altadena Mobil gas station where 21-year-old Christopher Ballew was injured by two Pasadena police officers during a controversial traffic stop and arrest on Nov. 9. Ballew suffered a broken leg and other injuries during the encounter with the officers.

“We’re drawing awareness,” said group co-organizer Melissa Michelson. “If we go away, the issue will go away. We’re here for the community.”

Michelson said she was encouraged by the constant chorus of cars honking in support of the demonstrators, but would like to see more community members take a direct role in advocacy.

“I really wish that there was more active participation,” she said, particularly in the Northwest Pasadena area. While support for the movement online is strong, “We’re trying to get some of that activism off of social media and onto the street,” she said.

Demonstrators shouted the names of other people who have died in police shootings, or in police custody, in the Pasadena area.

They included Reginald Thomas Jr., 35, who died after a struggle with six Pasadena police officers in which he was Tased, struck and subdued with handcuffs and ankle restraints on Sept. 30, 2016.

Police allege he died from an overdose of methamphetamine and PCP, while Thomas’ family and attorney maintain his death was the result of police brutality. An autopsy report released last week shows Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s investigators were unable to determine an official cause of death, and the District Attorney’s office announced the involved officers will not face criminal charges.

Demonstrators also carried pictures of others killed in controversial police shootings in Pasadena, including 19-year-old Kendrec McDade of Azusa on March 24, 2012 and 38-year-old Leroy Barnes of Pasadena on Feb. 19, 2009.

Pasadenans and Altadenans Against Police Violence Member Ian Burke Jameson said the group had several demands of the Pasadena Police Department.

Needed are an independent police auditor, an independent review of the Ballew incident, public disclosures of police misconduct, “sweeping use-of-force reform” with assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union, the firing of the officers involved in the Kendrec McDade shooting and the Ballew arrest, and the disbandment of the department’s Special Enforcement Section, a gang unit he said uses unconstitutional tactics such as “stop and frisk.”

Demonstrators also call for the resignation of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, for failing to file charges against any of the officers involved in the controversial use-of-force incidents, Jameson said.

Pasadena’s incoming Interim Police Chief John Perez is scheduled to take charge of the department Wednesday to replace retiring Chief Phillip Sanchez. He is expected to discuss issues including independent department reviews and re-examination of use-of-force policies as part of a “Change of Command Review” at Wednesday evening’s Public Safety Committee hearing.

Jameson said he was taking a “wait and see” approach to the interim chief, but added that he also had his doubts as to whether the new leadership would result in significant change. He said he was particularly concerned the Perez has been deeply involved in the department’s Special Enforcement Section.

Examining the issues is not enough, Jameson said. “We want concrete reforms put into place.”

“We hope Interim Chief Perez is going to institute the reforms needed to top the terrorization of people of color,” he said.

Immigrant rights activist Nativo Lopez said he happened to jog by the demonstration.

“I saw some people with protest signs, so I stopped to join the protest,” he said.

Lopez described working in Pasadena in the early 80s, when he said he and his colleagues found themselves under surveillance by the LAPD and FBI under the covert “COINTENELPRO,” or Counter Intelligence Program.

“We’re still fighting the fight to end death at the hands of the police. The LAPD, the Pasadena Police Department, the Sacramento Police Department.”