California: Vigils, Marches in Los Angeles and Oxnard Commemorate Garrett Foster

By David Martinez

From the streets of Austin, Garrett Foster’s sacrifice has reverberated across the country, with tributes, vigils, and actions carried out to immortalize his name. In California, on the Sunday immediately following his death, activists and community members in Los Angeles and Oxnard both held moving, defiant vigils and marches to honor Garrett and his commitment to fighting for a better world.

At a vigil called by Serve the People-Los Angeles (STP-LA), people began to gather at Grand Park in downtown on Sunday afternoon to make signs and work on an ofrenda (commemorative altar) for Garrett in front of the BlackUnityLA encampment in front of City Hall.

The program started in the early evening, with speakers sharing their thoughts on what Garrett’s sacrifice means to them. One activist read a poem he had composed.

Another speaker with STP-LA asked, “Why do we say ‘present in the struggle’? […] What is that struggle? This struggle is for Black lives. This struggle is against police brutality. We know that continuing the struggle, even though one of our comrades is dead, is absolutely necessary. It’s absolutely necessary to continue to fight because the reactionaries and the police, they’re never gonna give up. […] Their existence is to repress, it is to kill, to defend private property and the rich. That’s why we as the poor and the working class have to stand up like Garrett Foster.”

The speaker emphasized that it takes real, material force to resist the repression of the ruling class, and ultimately, that Garrett understood this, and this is why he was armed the night of the protest, “because he understood the only way to defend people, is with the people, with guns in hand.”

Soon after, around 50 attendees took the streets, chanting “Garrett Foster, Presente en la Lucha,” stopping briefly at the Los Angeles Police Headquarters, and then on towards the Los Angeles Federal Building. Graffiti was being put up during this time for Garrett and marchers chanted “Garrett’s Gone but the Struggle Rages On!” 

The march continued to the Metropolitan Detention Center where demonstrators could hear the prisoners inside tapping on their windows and flashing lights in support. From there, they moved to an overpass and hung a banner over the 101 Freeway as they released red smoke.

Police cars approached as the march flirted with entering the freeway and the marchers began hitting the cars, kicking them, throwing water bottles and rocks, but did not proceed onto the freeway, and soon gradually dispersed.

Oxnard Revolutionary Study Group invited the community to Plaza Park in downtown Oxnard, from where they marched to the local Police Station. Before taking the streets, an activist spoke on the bravery of Garrett, and how the police were complicit in his death not only for allowing his murderer to go free, but for beating back protesters rushing to his aid.

“Black, Brown, Yellow, White, Workers of the World Unite!” was chanted as a photo of Garrett and his fiancee were held high in the air. Many drivers showed their support by honking and waving. A lead banner read “A Revolutionary May Come to Die but Will Never Bow, Garrett Presente.”

Once at the Police station, attendees taped up posters and a large banner to the windows of the building while chanting, “Fuck The Cops, Give Them Hell, It Is Right to Rebel!”

An ofrenda bearing flowers and candles was produced and left in front of the station. A woman recited and dedicated a poem to Garrett titled “Zampoña,” originally written in 1982 by a Peruvian revolutionary.

The short action was concluded with a march back to the park where activists encouraged community members to get involved in the fight against reactionary violence in the imperialist US. Without knowing Garrett personally, the revolutionary people of Oxnard and Los Angeles recognized him as a comrade, and that we must all work to forge ourselves into servants of the people in his example.