Desmond Phillips kept alive by justice seekers

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David Phillips leading the group passing by Burgers and Brew catching the attention of customers and incoming traffic. Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

Almost three years have passed since Desmond Phillips was killed. Despite the time that has passed, activists continue to seek out justice for him.

Burgers and Brew customers were enjoying their meals, when activist David Phillips arrived with a crowd behind him, walking in front of the seating area with a megaphone and talking about his son Desmond being killed by Chico police.

Desmond Phillips was a black man who was shot in his family’s apartment on March 17 in 2017 near 700 West Fourth Avenue.

“I was there! I saw my son’s murder! Justice for Desmond Phillips!”, said David Phillips. “Desmond Phillips was shot over 30 times within two seconds! Justice for Desmond Phillips! There were five cops that shot Desmond, not three!”

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David Phillips on stage. Photo credit: Hana Beaty

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The Rally returning from the loop they made downtown. Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

Behind Phillips, a small but vocal group marched, holding large signs asking for police to be accountable for what they say was the murder of Phillips’ son Desmond by Chico police.

Burgers and Brew customers’ attention shifted to what Phillips was saying — some looked in silence, others talking among themselves as if nothing was happening.

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The rally continued downtown. Cars on Broadway and Main Streets honked when they saw what was being said.

Downtown Chico’s plaza was used to express protestors’ anger for what happened to Phillips.

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Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

For nearly 3 years, his father has been advocating for his son, with the Phillips family filing a lawsuit against the city scheduled in November. For the past few years David Phillips said he has felt targeted by the police and that the police and media are portraying his son in a violent manner.

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Desmond Phillips cousin Lawrence Thompson holding one of the signs used in the protest across town. Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

In conjunction with the National Day against Police brutality, the Justice for Desmond Phillips team and Chico CopWatch gathered at Chico Downtown Plaza to spread awareness and hold the police responsible for the deaths of Desmond Phillips and others.

Chico State student Bree Jones came to support and spread awareness. She said that it went well and that people having dinner downtown are more aware because of it, her favorite part of the event was walking past them.

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The rally went most of downtown getting the attention of many. Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

“Walking past the Burgers and Brew downtown and watching everyone’s faces as we march down, it’s pretty powerful,” said Jones.

Ka Lynda Watts was another student who arrived in support of the rally. She also talked about her own negative experiences with the police and how people of color don’t feel safe in Chico.

Three years ago, Watts was coming home from an event when someone in a car began throwing rocks at her and her friends yelling racial slurs. Shortly afterward, she said, she remembers headlights turning on approaching her, and it was a policeman who asked if they had just had rocks thrown at them.

Upset that the police car asked if they wanted to file a complaint instead of head for the car that just attacked her friends, she said told them that they should do something about what had happened.

Shortly after the police car drove off, she said that they never paid attention to the attackers. The car that threw rocks at Watts made a U-turn and waited until the police car had gotten further away. Once they came back, Watts said, the police allegedly threw a rock at her head.

A month later, Watts filed a police report after talking to one of her faculty members about it. They told her to file a police report and she didn’t know the license plate of the car, but she described the make of the car. She said she didn’t hear back from the police.

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The Justice for Desmond Phillips Facebook page describes how Desmond Phillips was killed by Chico police, when his father called an ambulance to for a mental episode he had. When Chico police arrived instead of diffusing the situation, they tased Desmond, then shot him multiple times.

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Unity Sistas showing support to stop the police from killing. Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

The page says that Chico police and media state that Phillips lunged at the police.

Phillips suffered from head trauma that affected his mental state, the result of a head trauma from Sacramento police where he was beaten and received brain injury. This caused him to move to Chico where his family could take care of him.

Watts gave a speech about her experience with police at the city plaza.

“If it was a white person that did the same thing that Desmond did, you would have talked to them,” said Watts. “Compared to if it was a black person like him, he was shot to death more than 30 times.”

Julian Mendoza can be reached at [email protected] or Twitter @JulianMTheOrion.