Protestors continue to demand justice for the shooting and death of Pasadena resident Anthony McClain, the 32 year-old father, who was shot in the back by a Pasadena Police Department officer while fleeing a traffic stop on Sunday, August 15.
McClain was the passenger of a vehicle that was pulled over by officers, for not displaying a front license plate. When the driver was asked to step out of the vehicle, McClain stepped out of the vehicle and ran, resulting in an officer, whose identity has yet to be confirmed, shooting him in the back.
Overseeing the daily demonstrations in front of City Hall, marches/caravans into Downtown LA, and vigils at La Pintoresca Park — near the location in which McClain was shot — is Jasmine Richards Abdullah, founder of Black Lives Matter Pasadena. Speaking to the South Pasadenan News, she explains that McClain’s death deeply hits on a personal level not only as a member of the predominantly African-American community in Northwest Pasadena, but also as a close friend of McClain, whom she says had known her for 25 years.
For Richards, concerns lie in the spin she feels is being promoted over the image of McClain, “I see them trying to demonize him, to dehumanize him by saying he was a gang member who was on parole and all these other things, but they never looked at him as a father, son, a friend, you know what I mean?”
Strategically stationed across the street from the front entrance of Pasadena’s City Hall, Richards and her fellow organizers have held daily demonstrations at the Robinson Memorial since the day her friend was mortally shot by officers. The momentum doesn’t just stop there however, as supporters also mobilized down Colorado Blvd, straight into the heart of Old Town, as a way to disrupt the status quo according to another BLM organizer known colloquially as Brother Vision.
According to police, McClain was in possession of a firearm in his waistband that he disposed of, allegedly based on a witness account.
Richards and others have contested that while watching the released footage, that the flash from a shiny object seen on McClain was not a firearm as officers claim it to be, rather his belt buckle.
Defining the concept of Red-lined districts, both Vision and Richards cried out against what is a tactically administered form of policing that essentially keeps residents of the area “imprisoned” and relentlessly subjugated within their own confines. “We’ve got to talk to folks and change those hearts and minds so they can actually see that Pasadena is not just the Rose Parade. It is not just pretty old town. That there’s a Northwest facet here and they separate us on purpose” explicates Richards, who strongly identifies with the struggles that hinder residents in low-income communities such as her own.
Redlining, the “discriminatory practice of fencing off areas where banks would avoid investments based on community demographics”, has been an issue for decades in the United States, though, according to Richards and others in her community, Pasadena’s own history pertaining to the problem is often overlooked and scantly documented.
As protestors marched though Old Town, minimal to no Police intervention took place, only providing redirection of traffic flow away from the normally busy intersection at Colorado and Fair Oaks.
For nearly 30 minutes protestors held the intersection while beckoning onlookers to join in the cause.
“Which side are you on? Are you on the side of justice? Are you on the side of murderers?”, Richards asked, addressing Pasadena City Council, who that same night was reviewing a police oversight commission investigating the incident, which gained approval.
“What we’re demanding is that all the officers involved in the shooting actually be fired and prosecuted. We’re demanding that Steve Mermell, which is the city manager, fire Chief, John Perez, because he’s not only a gang member herself, but he’s harboring a fugitive now,” says Richards.
McClain’s family has filed claims against Pasadena as of August 27.