By Serran Soledad
On September 11, the family of Brandon Alvarez, 22, a former corporal in the United States Marine Corps, disrupted a Democratic Party event in Oxnard to demand justice for Alvarez, who was found dead in his barracks on June 5. The previous day, a group of protesters rallied at city hall in Thousand Oaks, California, before marching to a nearby US Marine recruitment office to condemn military recruitment and demand justice for Alvarez.
Alvarez, a local of Thousand Oaks, California, was found dead in his barracks closet at the Naval Support Activity Bahrain, in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Following an internal autopsy, the US Marines concluded that Alvarez committed suicide by hanging. Despite this claim, his mother Maria Cruz paid for a private autopsy which led her and her family to suspect Alvarez was murdered.
“They did an autopsy when they brought the body to Dover [Delaware], and they never imagined that I would do a second autopsy,” Cruz told Tribune.
“My second autopsy is telling us that my son was tortured, had bruises, had a swollen foot, was strangled, had a huge bruise from side to side on his neck. That shows someone dragged him, suffocated him that way. Something soft, it could have been their arm, the way they showed them how to suffocate others,” she continued.
Alvarez’s family and supporters disrupted a recall election event in Oxnard, California, organized by the Democratic Party with California Congresswoman Julia Brownley present. Brownley was confronted by Alvarez’s mother who told her, “I’m going to interrupt even Biden if I have to! Just like I interrupted you this morning. I’m going to keep doing it because this is my little boy!” she shouted, “Fuck you! This is the truth!”
The action on the previous day was organized by Alvarez’s family along with anti-imperialist organization Oxnard Revolutionary Study Group (OxRevStudy)—protesters marched through busy streets carrying signs and a large banner reading, “People’s Justice for Brandon Alvarez!”
The crowd chanted “It was not a suicide, tell us how he really died!” and “Who killed Brandon? US Marines!”
Using a megaphone, Alvarez’s mother told the marchers: “They prey on the youth, with promises of a bright future… Families, parents, do not let your kids join the military. They kill them. They put their foot on top of them.”
Once the demonstrators arrived at the recruitment office, they filled the parking lot facing the building.
Activists from OxRevStudy tied a banner listing the family’s demands to the office’s balcony. Alvarez’s family wants his belongings returned, for any relevant security footage to be released, and wants the barracks floor plan in order to know who had access to his room. OxRevStudy activists gave speeches condemning US Imperialism and the military’s predatory tactic of targeting working class youth for recruitment.
“How dare they, those individuals, those bastards, those rats who did this to my son!” yelled Cruz, “I had to get out of work and I don’t care ‘cause this is about my son, and other children who are thinking about joining the military.”
The energized crowd began yelling for the recruiters to come out of the office: “Come out cowards!” Protesters remained at the building for about 20 minutes, blocking a handful of cars from entering the parking lot, before the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department arrived.
An activist denounced the sheriffs and rallied the crowd who began to chant, “Get out! Get out!” The activists successfully forced them to leave. The march circled back to Thousand Oaks City Hall and was concluded with a closing speech from Alvarez’s mother.
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