OAKLAND, Calif - Family members of an Oakland man who was shot and killed by FBI agents in September gathered once again on Saturday to demand the release of surveillance video of the shooting. They were joined by a large crowd that gathered near the FBI offices in Oakland, including supporters and friends of Michael Jonathan Cortez.
"It’s not right that the justice system takes innocent lives away and there are just no repercussions for that," said Cortez’s sister, Marilyn Cortez.
Cortez was killed last month outside a store on Fruitvale Avenue in East Oakland. The FBI says Cortez was armed and posed a threat to federal officers, who were serving several arrest warrants on him. Cortez’s family says he was on parole for a drug related conviction, and had been turning his life around.
The FBI released a statement on Saturday, saying in part, that it’s, "review process is thorough, objective, and is conducted as expeditiously as possible under the circumstances. No details are released until the process is complete. Also, the review of the shooting is not unilateral. The Alameda County District Attorney's Office and the Oakland Police Department are each investigating this incident independently. It would be inappropriate for the FBI to comment in a way that would influence those investigations."
At the protest on Saturday, family members listed their demands of law enforcement.
"We demand the release of all recordings of Jonathan’s killing," said one Cortez family member.
The Cortez family also called for the return of his personal belongings and to an end to what they claim is ongoing intimidation by law enforcement. According to rally organizers, FBI agents showed up at Cortez’s funeral and in their words, "harassed" mourners. The FBI has flatly denied those accusations.
Rally organizers, also demanded a further examination of the role of federal law enforcement on Oakland streets.
"We want answers. Under what jurisdiction was this FBI agent operating under. What’s the scope of the FBI presence in Oakland," said protest co-organizer, Rebecca Ruiz.
Protesters also insisted that law enforcement should focus more on weeding out the root cause of violence in the city.
"Clearly there is an increase in violence. Clearly there is a need for us to respond, but the kind of responses we need, are basic needs for people — food, clothing, and shelter — things that are just root causes, to heal violence, because people are really just acting out of desperation," said protest co-organizer, George Galvis.
Organizers say a further demonstration is planned for October 22nd, at Fruitvale Station.