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Her death was an execution

February 15, 2002 | Page 4

Dear Socialist Worker,

On January 19, Marcella Byrd left a supermarket in Long Beach, Calif., allegedly without paying. Shortly afterward, she was shot to death by the Long Beach police.

Police reported that Byrd had a steak knife that she refused to drop as she headed toward the main street downtown.

She was a 57-year-old mother who lived in a senior citizens' complex. She was diagnosed 20 years ago with schizophrenia. "We think that this was nothing less than a summary execution," lawyers for her family told the Los Angeles Times.

The officers who killed her described Byrd as an "out-of-control behemoth who knocked over a grocery store and tried to get away." This is in spite of the fact that she was just 4 feet 5 inches tall!

"I'm still in shock. I can't understand it," her son, Tirus Parhms, told reporters. "My mother was not a threat to anyone."

Byrd's family is suing, claiming that the city "negligently hired, trained, managed and/or supervised each of the Long Beach officers involved in this incident."

Any money that they receive will be little compensation for a mother who was tried and executed within minutes by police officers intent on protecting the grocery store she is accused of "robbing."

But hopefully, her family's action will help to bring about a call for change.

Sarah Knopp, Los Angeles

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