Workers Vanguard No. 917

4 July 2008


Drop Charges Against Rebel Diaz Hip-Hop Artists!

We print below a June 20 protest letter from the Partisan Defense Committee to New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Bronx D.A. Robert T. Johnson. The PDC is a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defense organization associated with the Spartacist League. On June 25, the Rebel Diaz Web site ( reported that police officers with drawn guns had burst into Gonzalo Venegas’ apartment early the previous morning, intimidated the residents and then left. We protest these police scare tactics, which are clearly a response to the Venegas brothers’ recent witnessing of—and long-standing opposition to—police brutality.

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The Partisan Defense Committee condemns the brutal police assault and arrest of Rodrigo “Rodstarz” Venegas and Gonzalo “G1” Venegas on June 18. After witnessing the police harassing a street vendor in Hunts Point in the Bronx, the Venegas brothers began to videotape the incident on a cell phone camera. When they asked for the officers’ badge numbers, the police responded by beating and kicking the brothers in full view of other vendors and people on the crowded street. The brothers were arrested and charged with obstruction of justice and resisting arrest—bogus charges routinely leveled against victims of police brutality.

Police brutality is standard operating procedure, meted out not only to the exploited and oppressed in New York City, but also to those who witness and protest against it on the spot. One year ago, on June 21, 2007, officers brutally beat civil rights attorney Michael Warren and his wife Evelyn and then arrested them after the couple had witnessed and protested the police beating a man in a Brooklyn parking lot.

The Venegas brothers are political activists and artists of the Rebel Diaz hip-hop group. They are widely known for their defense of immigrant rights, opposition to police brutality, and support for the Jena Six and Mumia Abu-Jamal, an innocent man on death row in Pennsylvania. We demand that all charges against Rodrigo and Gonzalo Venegas be dropped immediately.