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LAPD run out of Chicano neighborhood

By staff |
July 21, 2016
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Juan Mendez - Jose "Peruzzi" Mendez's father, addressing Chief Beck. (FightBack!News/Staff)
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Members of Centro CSO at meeting. (FightBack!News/Staff)

Los Angeles, CA - Facing intense pressure from the community, the Police Commission and Chief Beck fled a June 21 ‘community’ meeting.’ They could not take the heat and left out the back doors.

Chief of LAPD Charlie Beck, Police Commission members Kathleen Kim, Robert Saltzman, Sandra Figueroa-Villa, Steve Soboroff and Matt Johnson, along with over 25 police officers, gathered at Hollenbeck Middle School. The neighborhood of Boyle Heights, home to Hollenbeck Middle School, was the site for the first community meeting of the LAPD Police Commission to hear from the residents.

Black Lives Matter, the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, and Centro CSO met the LAPD meeting with much resistance. Bringing three families of LAPD police killings and shootings, and one victim family of LA Sheriff killings, Centro CSO was able to directly confront Chief Beck and the other LAPD officers present.

The family of a 16-year- old Chicano, Jose “Peruzzi” Mendez, killed Feb. 6 by LAPD; the family of Arturo Y Torrez killed by LAPD April 10; the family of Edwin Rodriguez killed by ELA Sheriffs Feb. 14, and Maria Banda, whose son was shot by LAPD in Boyle Heights and left for dead, only to be currently imprisoned, were all present and spoke out.

In Spanish, Juan Mendez, Peruzzi Mendez’s father, shouted into the mic, “I ask you now, who will bring me back my son? Which of you will bring my family the justice we deserve? Shooting my son in the back until he died, where is his justice? He was only 16 years old!”

“I should not be expected to believe the men who killed my son, Arturo Y Torrez,” shouted Blanca Duran.

At one point an LAPD officer pulled out a hand-held camcorder to record the public to which Mendez’s mother shouted, “Yeah go ahead and record us now, but refuse to record yourselves killing my son!”

Estela Rodriguez took to the mic to express her anger and fervor for justice, “While the LA Sheriffs were the ones responsible for killing my son I ask all of you today, when will we be able to close this file? I want justice! We will not stop until we obtain justice for Edwin Rodriguez!”

Three of the four families were Spanish-speaking only. LAPD speakers exceeded the two-minute comment limit, but whenever a Spanish-speaker would take the mic along with a translator, the buzzer would go off and the cops would insist on the speakers leaving the mic. The public immediately protested, shouting “Four minutes now!” until finally Spanish-speakers were given four minutes, a fairer amount of time to comment.

“One day I will have children while living Boyle Heights,” shouted Sol Marquez of Centro CSO. “I promise you now, Chief Beck and all you LAPD officers present that I will teach my children not to fear you; they will be taught to fight back. We are Boyle Heights, we are Chicanos, and we are fighting back against your crimes against us.”

Black Lives Matter rose in solidarity with the families and held a moment of silence to commemorate the lives taken by LAPD in Boyle Heights, and the greater Los Angeles area. At one point, they projected a video captured earlier that same morning of LAPD using excessive force against a senior citizen Black man who had exceeded his two minutes of public comments.

Longtime Chicano rights activist and member of Centro CSO Carlos Montes shouted, “We unite with Black Lives Matter’s demand to fire Chief Beck. We bring you these families to show you that Boyle Heights will not remain silent at the face of injustice. Justice for Jose Mendez, Justice for Edwin Rodriguez, justice for Arturo Y Torrez, and justice for all victims of police crimes.”

After the meeting, Marquez stated, “Killings of Chicanos is only one form of national oppression against us. Many of us will never be able to afford the luxuries of traveling outside of our neighborhoods, and much less to lobby politicians. We locally can organize ourselves and fight for our own justice, our own liberation, our own equality.”

Centro CSO is gearing up for more local actions and invites you to participate in monthly, meetings the third Wednesday of every month – 6:00 p.m. at Benjamin Franklin Library, 2200 E 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033. One may contact them directly at [email protected], http://facebook.com/CentroCSO, http://twitter.com/CentroCSO, http://centrocso.wordpress.com