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One year later: Demand justice for Frank Ordonez, Teamster killed by police

Commentary by Jared Hamil |
December 5, 2020
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#Frank posted on the back of a UPS package car in Los Angeles.
#Frank posted on the back of a UPS package car in Los Angeles. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Los Angeles, CA - December 5 will mark a year since the murder of UPS driver Frank Ordonez. Last year, Ordonez, while delivering on route, was kidnapped by jewel thieves and held hostage in the delivery vehicle. The truck was pursued by police for hours. The pursuit came to a slowdown at a busy intersection, where police opened fire on the vehicle. The police fired over 200 rounds, killing Ordonez, the thieves and a bystander. The bystander, Rick Cutshaw, was a business rep for OPEIU Local 100. A year later, no one has been charged for the murders, and the officers still remain on active duty. And none of the police or police departments have been held accountable for their actions. The entire murder was captured on live television via helicopter.

Ordonez was represented by the Teamsters. He was not the first Teamster to be murdered by the police, either. Notably, Philando Castile, a Saint Paul, Minnesota food service worker, was murdered by police during a traffic stop in 2016.

Ordonez’s murder was shocking to the more than 250,000 UPS workers across the country. Last year drivers in different cities organized a moment of silence for Frank. The moment of silence coincided with Ordonez’ funeral. His name #Frank was written inside many UPS buildings, and on trailers. They also displayed his name on the back of delivery trucks. From city to city, people could see the name Frank on the back of thousands of UPS trucks across the country. Even some drivers from different companies like Fedex, Holland and R+L Carriers stood in solidarity with the moment of silence. Many drivers have expressed their concern for the police recklessness, and fear for their own wellbeing. UPS’ response to the incident was unsympathetic. Instead, UPS publicly expressed their gratitude and thanked the police for the return of their property.

Darwin Argueta, a part-timer at UPS in Salt Lake City remembered, “Frank Ordonez’ death is still fresh in all our memories. It hurts that it could have been any one of my coworkers that are drivers out there. The response from drivers and inside workers, by stopping and engaging their hazard lights, gave Frank a moment of silence. Hub workers wrote on trucks #RIPFrank and #JusticeForFrank. It really showed how much of a tight-knit group of workers we are. Other drivers from other companies showed solidarity by joining us to mourn Frank. Justice for Frank and his family!”

A year later, UPS workers have endured a year of record volume, as a result of COVID-19. Countless workers contracted the disease from being on the frontline, and many have died. Across the country, UPS workers struggled with the company to keep the workplace safe and clean. Meanwhile, UPS’ third quarter pulled in a record $2 billion in profit.

Roy Ordonez, Frank’s brother, said, “Police are being pardoned, police are above the law. If there aren’t consequences for their actions – for killings or crimes – this will keep happening. I want the UPS drivers to know that if it happened once, it will happen again. The fight for Justice for Frank isn’t just about him but for all drivers. If the police get away with this, they won’t take precaution. With Frank, they didn’t follow protocol and still no consequences, and it happened on live TV. If we can’t get justice for Frank even with all the evidence, for those that don’t have this evidence there will never be justice.”

The struggle continues for Frank Ordonez. There is a lawsuit against the police departments involved. Roy Ordonez has joined in many of the protests against police crimes. He’s united with many other families whose loved ones fell victim to police murders. His hope is to spread awareness about his brother. The struggle against police crimes and for police accountability has intensified this year as a result of George Floyd’s murder. From Chicanos fighting the sheriffs in East LA, to African-Americans fighting the sheriffs’ office in Jacksonville, Florida – people are chanting, protesting and demanding “Jail killer cops!” Many cities are calling for police to be defunded and public funds to be allocated for people’s needs. At the same time the struggle for community-controlled police accountability councils has gained traction.

A vigil will be held on Saturday, December 5, in his remembrance. Roy Ordonez hopes that drivers will remember his brother and join in for another moment of silence. The struggle continues.

Jared Hamil is a package car driver and shop steward in Los Angeles