Human rights group demands dropping of charges against Rapada Family

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By San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines

The San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (SF CHRP) is calling on the Filipino American community, and all of those who care for issues of social justice and human rights, to give their full support for the Rapada family, who were victims of a brutal attack last July 4th by police officers for the San Bruno (SBPD) and Daly City (DCPD) Police departments.

“The Rapada family were victims of a heinous attack by plain clothed police officers enforcing firework regulations during last year’s July 4th celebrations,” explained Rupert Estanislao, chair of SF CHRP. “

Instead of following internal police guidelines and regulations, the four police officers decided to chase down Wendel Rapada for allegedly using an illegal firework and proceeded to beat him, and members of his family, to a bloody pulp.”

San Bruno police officers allegedly saw Wendel, 32, using illegal fireworks during July 4th celebrations and proceeded to chase Wendel down to the 200 block of Boardwalk Ave. in San Bruno. By the time Wendel was able to reach his home four police officers from the SBPD and DCPD were trying to restrain Wendel by tackling him to the ground and repeatedly punching him and contorting his body to place handcuffs on his wrists.

The cries of Wendel, and the sounds of him getting beat, alarmed members of his family, including his then 58-year-old father, Ephraim, and two cousins: Ervin James, 26, and Crystal Anne, 28. The three family members pleaded to the police officers to have them stop beating Wendel but to no avail.

“Instead of listening to the family’s tearful pleas, the four police officers proceeded to brutally attack a 58-year-old man and Wendel’s cousins for ‘daring to defy’ a brutal attack against their own family member.” Said Estanislao. “Showing no restraint these brawling thugs of the SBPD and DCPD repeatedly punched, kicked, tased, slammed to the ground, and beat with heavy batons innocent members of the Rapada family. Wendel’s elder father, Ephraim, received some of the worst from the four young cops and was beaten so viciously he had a disc in his spine dislocated.”

San Mateo County, of which San Bruno and Daly City are a part of, has long had a history of racial discrimination against the majority Asian, Filipino, and Latino population. Despite making up more than 50% of the county, due to gerrymandering and other crooked schemes by the county government, there is not a single Asian, Filipino, or Latino member on the board of supervisors.

Beyond issues of representation, people of color, the working class, and immigrants have dealt with a long legacy of police brutality and harassment by the county sheriff and local police departments which only adds to the issues of economic justice and political disenfranchisement.

“The Rapada family are but a part of a long chain of victims of police and state repression that not only includes the San Francisco Bay Area but a trend that is nation-wide,” said Estanislao. “Police departments across the nation have long been victimizing people of color and immigrants and have heavily militarized working class and immigrant neighborhoods with heavy equipment used by SWAT teams, heavy handed tactics, ‘gang’ injunctions with no due process, and racist policies such as stop-and-frisks, targeted questioning, and racial profiling.”

“Let us not forget the long list of victims of extrajudicial killings by police officers and victims of savage police brutality,” added Estanislao. “In America, every 36 hours a black man or woman is a victim of targeted police killings, according to Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. Communities of color, including the Filipino American community, are also targets of extrajudicial killings by American police officers. Not only is this issue affecting communities of color but systemic issues of economic and social injustice are also. Police are dividing, militarizing, and harassing communities of color and immigrant communities with a slew of unjust laws and actions all of which are sanctioned by local and state governments and the American ‘Injustice System.’”

The attacks against the Rapada family by the DCPD and SBPD were only the beginning for the Rapada family. The four members of the family, who were victims of a savage police beating, have been charged with multiple felony counts of allegedly attacking and beating the four police officers in question. Despite little or no evidence, beyond the “word” of the four police officers, jury selection for the individual members of the Rapada family is set to begin on October 15th at the main courthouse in Redwood City.

SF CHRP is calling on San Mateo County to stop the legalized harassment of the Rapada family, which is causing further family trauma, and to drop all of the unjust and unfounded charges against the family.

“The bitter and blatant irony here,” said Estanislao, “is that the real criminals in this case, the cops, are being labeled the ‘victims’ and the real victims in this case, the Rapada family, are being labeled ‘criminals.’ The justice system has turned reality upside down in trying to justify the excessive brutality by these four thugs of the DCPD and SBPD.”

SF CHRP is calling for a day of solidarity for the Rapda family on Monday October 22nd, the day the individual family members are to begin their trial in court. SF CHRP will also be joining a broader coalition of community organizations the day that trial begins. SF CHRP is calling on the Filipino American community, and the larger Bay Area community, to try and make it to the first day of trial on October 22nd, if possible, and to take action online via social media sites to show support for the Rapada family.

An online petition, being circulated by the National Alliance of Filipino Concerns, can be signed by all of those who support the Rapada family and all victims of police violence.

Human rights group demands dropping of charges gainst Rapada Family

Reference: Rupert Estanislao, chairperson
Cell: 415.410.7473

Reference: Jack Stephens, educational development officer
Cell: 415.506.8319


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