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LA County Sheriff's scandals and protests continue

By Sol Marquez |
July 10, 2020
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 Sumaya Aden speaking, surrounded by the young organizers of June 7 march.
Sumaya Aden speaking, surrounded by the young organizers of June 7 march. (Luis Sifuentes)
March against racist terror by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
March against racist terror by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Los Angeles, CA - Over the last few years, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has been in the hot seat as deputies have killed a staggering number of Black and Chicano young men. With the recent Minnesota rebellion and protests across Los Angeles, the heat continues.

Protests against the Sheriffs

On June 7, a group of young women from East Los Angeles united, organized and led a large march and protest against the East Los Angeles Sheriffs. The women were Lucia Torres from Schurr High; Valerie “Valens” Salazar, a student at California State University - LA (CSULA); Samantha Barientos, a student at Garfield High; Estrella Lopez, a student at CSULA, and Alicia Romero of LA Causa Youth Building Center. They approached the community group Centro Community Service Organization (Centro CSO) for help and guidance on their event.

Starting at Atlantic Avenue Park in East LA, close to 500 people gathered for a kickoff rally. The women spoke about the need as Chicanos to unite with African Americans in their fight for freedom against racist terror like that experienced by George Floyd in Minnesota.

Participants then took to the street and angrily marched to the East LA Sheriff’s station. When they arrived, the California Highway Patrol blocked the street entrance to the station. The ELA Sheriffs barricaded the entrance to the station and were armed with automatic assault rifles and shotguns. The energized marchers, by that point numbering over 1000, marched right up to the deputy line. Families whose sons, nephews, and brothers have been killed by the ELA Sheriffs spoke out and denounced the killings. Sumaya Aden, whose brother Isak Aden was killed last year in Minnesota, spoke about the horrors of being Black in the U.S. To finish the event, the protesters held another rally at Belvedere Park by the lake.

When asked if she had any advice for youth or anyone wanting to organize their own event against police terror, Lucia Garcia said, “Despite the negative attitude people take when seeing someone speak out against racism and police brutality, they need to stay affirmed in their beliefs and it’s okay to educate older generations.”

Chicano killings continue

Despite COVID-19, the LA County Sheriffs have not stopped killing. Their most recent victim is 18-year-old Salvadoran American Andres Guardado, who was killed on June 18. Guardado was working as a security guard when he was killed. Sheriffs shot him five times, and afterwards stated Guardado had a weapon when he was killed. A recent independent autopsy ordered by Guardado’s family found all the shots were to his back, and he had no trace of drugs not alcohol in his system.

Chicano Jorge Serrano was killed on December 19, 2019 by the same killer sheriff, Nikolis Perez, who also killed Anthony Vargas on August 12, 2018. Serrano was on his knees and had his hands in the air, surrendering, when he was shot six times, and killed.

Not only is there controversy over the fact that the cop Perez is a two-time killer but also because there is cause to believe that Perez is part of the FBI-confirmed East LA Sheriff’s gang Los Banditos.

Budget cuts

At the end of June, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to cut the LA Sheriff’s Department budget by $145 million. LASD normally is allocated about $3.3 billion annually. Sheriff Alex Villanueva spoke against the cuts and took a hard jab at the recent rebellions and uprisings after the killing of Minnesotan George Floyd by saying, “The need to provide public safety continues to rise. Crime hasn't gone away because people don't like law enforcement."

Lawsuits

Chicano attorney Humberto Guizar is representing the family of Jorge Serrano, who are suing Sheriff Alex Villanueva for condoning the Los Banditos gang. The LA County Civilian Oversight Commission had ordered Villanueva to begin inspecting deputies for tattoos confirming their affiliation to the gang. To this day, Villanueva hasn't followed through and not a single deputy has been implicated. Additionally, Sheriff Villanueva has yet to honor subpoenas issued by the Civilian Oversight Commission.

An important point to note is that despite the recent killing of Serrano being under investigation by the internal affairs division of the Sheriff’s Department, the two deputies involved in Serrano’s killing (including two-time killer Perez) were promoted to training officers. All of this happened under the supervision of Sheriff Villanueva.

Community control of the police and Sheriffs

Centro Community Service Organization (CSO) has been helping unite and lead the fight against the East LA Sheriffs. They have united with the families affected by police terror and will continue to organize to win justice. Moving forward, plans are to fight for and to win civilian control of the police. They invite you to join the fight! Their upcoming and public meeting will be on Wednesday, July 15 at 6 p.m. via Zoom. You may send them an email at [email protected] for their link, text them for the link at their hotline number 323-943-2030, or contact them on their various social media platforms @CentroCSO.

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