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Los Angeles demands justice for George Floyd and other victims of police terror

By staff |
June 1, 2020
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LA protest against police crimes.
LA protest against police crimes. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Los Angeles, CA - On Saturday, May 30, as part of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression’s National Day of Protest, a huge crowd filled Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights to demand justice for George Floyd and others killed by police and racist vigilantes. Organized by Centro CSO, a member organization of NAARPR, the protest featured a lineup of speakers who’ve lost loved ones at the hands of LAPD, East Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Long Beach PD, and other police forces in the area.

Centro CSO members and allies who spoke at the protest called for solidarity with Black people against police violence; the investment in schools, not police; and the mass release of prisoners, as jails around Los Angeles have become hot spots for outbreaks of COVID-19. Participants at the rally responded enthusiastically to speakers and their chants which included “Free them all,” “George Floyd! Say his name!” "Qué viva la Raza! Qué viva!" and “F…Trump.”

Luis Sifuentes of Centro CSO kicked off the protest with a series of chants such as “No justice, no peace, no racist police!” and “Qué queremos? Justicia! Cuando? Ahora!” to energize the crowd. Protesters held up signs reading, “Jail killer cops." Cars circled Mariachi Plaza and honked in solidarity.

Sol Marquez, a member of both Centro CSO and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, led the rally, calling out chants like “I can’t breathe!” Marquez described the history of police violence in Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles. "People have made cops afraid to kill us! I'm proud to be alive during a time when police stations are being burnt down to a crisp. Rich business owners are fearing for their property. We are getting closer to African Americans and Chicanos winning freedom!"

“How many times did George Floyd say, ‘I can’t breathe?’” asked Marquez during the protest. “And they never once took their knee off of his neck. How many times do you have to say ‘I can’t breathe’ until they get it? That you can’t breathe! Well apparently not enough. So that’s why we’re angry and that’s why we’re here.”

Representatives from the families of Cesar Rodriguez, Paul Rhea, Edwin Rodriguez, Alex Flores, Daniel Hernandez, Vanessa Marquez, and Christian Escobedo spoke about losing their loved ones due to police terror. Lisa Vargas, the mother of Anthony Daniel Vargas, a 21-year-old who was murdered by East Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies in 2018, rallied protesters to keep struggling for police accountability.

“These sheriffs think that we are non-existent. They think that we don’t have a voice, they think that we are nobody,” said Vargas. “I am here to say I am a proud Chicana, Latina. I am not afraid, nor is my family. We have been intimidated. We have been threatened. We have gone through it all. But our lives don’t matter because my son’s life is not here. We stand here today as a family representing Anthony. We are his life.”

Carlos Montes, a member of Centro CSO, co-founder of the Brown Berets, and long-time Chicano activist and resident of Boyle Heights, explained to the crowd a key demand of the protest: the mass release of prisoners who face death due to COVID-19.“Who’s in jail? Mostly poor people, mostly brown people, mostly Black people,” said Montes. “With COVID-19, the infection rate is high in the county jails, becoming hotspots of infections, we don’t want people who are in prison, because they are poor working people, to die. What do we want? We want to free them all."

Lupe Torres, a UTLA (United Teachers of Los Angeles) member, and Eloisa Galindo of Eastside Padres Contra la Privatización, connected the increase in police budgets with disinvestment from and privatization of public schools. “You know who doesn’t go home safe?” asked Torres. “Black and brown kids after school - middle school, high schoolers, people in adult school - because they are profiled by police, they are followed. It’s a pattern, they do it constantly, every single day, and we cannot stand for that.”

Other speakers included Jaime Rodriguez from the 50th Chicano Moratorium Organizing Committee; president of SEIU/USWW David Huerta, and Jared Hamil, a rank-and-file Teamster and UPS driver, who reminded the crowd of the police killing of Frank Ordonez, a UPS driver from Miami. Zada Musica performed songs for the protest and DSA - LA provided water and medical supplies.

The protest in Boyle Heights was one of many that occurred throughout Los Angeles on Saturday, including a large rally of Black Lives Matter-LA action at Pan Pacific Park and different car caravans. While the protest in Boyle Heights was peaceful, the Los Angeles Police Department in other areas of the city heavily repressed those in the streets demanding justice. In the early evening, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a curfew for the entirety of the city and called for the National Guard to be brought in.

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