SANTA ROSA, California — On the evening of Sunday, May 31st, Marqus Miles “Red Bear” Martinez was hospitalized due to being shot at point-blank range with a sting-ball grenade by police in Santa Rosa, California.
Martinez was on the corner of College and Mendocino at the time of the incident. He was helping protect a group of youth that were being harassed with tear gas. Moments after the tear gas was shot, Martinez was shot in the face with a sting-ball grenade. The impact knocked out four of his front teeth, lodging three of the teeth into the roof of his mouth and one in his tongue. His lip was split into three, his jaw was fractured, and required reconstructive surgery at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, CA.
The Santa Rosa Police Department did not give aid after shooting directly at Martinez. It has been verified by Martinez and other protestors that the officer that shot Mr. Martinez was less than 10-15 feet away. Additional injuries have been reported in the community but not reported in the press.
“It seems to me like I was singled out, they saw me with my phone recording, and then they shot directly at my face with a plastic-type of grenade. After that I ran, I didn’t understand why they were meeting us with such force, we were only trying to talk with the police, we were being peaceful,” said Martinez.
On the night of the violent incident, Martinez was a part of a peaceful protest in downtown Santa Rosa. The intent of that night for Martinez was to address the major worldwide issue of police violence, the killing of George Floyd, and to show his solidarity to this movement of police reform. Marqus is a human rights activist, he has been committed and has stood on the front lines of ending police brutality since his youth.
This is not the first time Martinez was a victim of police violence. In 2015 Marqus won a civil rights lawsuit against the Sonoma County Sheriff department when he was beaten with 20 other men for over 5 hours by deputies.
Martinez is a Santa Rosa native, father of 5, and respected male role model within the indigenous community. He is connected throughout Northern California’s indigenous land. His family is deeply rooted in Sonoma County through cultural practices and Pomo ancestry. Martinez is dedicated to keeping his community’s indigenous traditions alive while paving a more positive enriched life for the younger generations. He is actively involved with MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women) and is a supporter of many causes that uplift the human spirit and protect our Mother Earth.
After being released from the hospital Mr. Martinez said,
“I want people to stand with me, with us, to peacefully protest against the plague of police brutality that has been a long going on issue in this country. My actions are compelled by what my spirit is guiding me to do, to take action, to set an example, We need to shed light on all the injustices and not allow them to continue to brush these issues under the rug and silence our problems, I kneel in solidarity for all my relations and our Mother Earth, I’m asking for you to do the same to start the change. We are all connected and deserve fair treatment and justice.”
We demand that the Santa Rosa Police Department and Santa Rosa City Council take responsibility to thoroughly investigate and prosecute the officer that used excessive force against Mr. Martinez.
We call on the SRPD to stop using tear gas and pepper spray which are chemical weapons. The continued use of chemical weapons is warfare on our residents. We call on SRPD to stop using sting-ball grenades during peaceful protests.
We demand extensive training and de-escalation tactics within peaceful protests, we demand the rights of protestors be respected, we demand the demilitarization of police and investment in black and People of Color communities. We demand an end to the war against black, indigenous, and all people of color. These demands are in alignment with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Marqus “RedBear” Martinez and his family are seeking support to cover his medical expenses via GoFundMe.