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‘We that are here, are Anthony Vargas’

Lisa Vargas speaks at her son’s two-year angelversary
By staff |
August 18, 2020
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Lisa Vargas, the mother of Anthony Vargas, speaks at his two-year angelversary i
Lisa Vargas, the mother of Anthony Vargas, speaks at his two-year angelversary in LA. (Sol Marquez)

Los Angeles, CA - Two years ago, on August 12, 2018, East Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies Jonathan Rojas and Nikolis Perez killed Anthony Daniel Vargas, shooting him 13 times. The ELA Sheriff's alleged “Banditos” gang members have covered up the truth, harassed the family and killed again.

This Saturday, August 15, the family of Anthony Vargas held a rally at the East LA Sheriff's station for his two-year “angelversary.” After marching in the scorching 109-degree heat to the station, the family was met with a line of fully armed sheriffs. Confronting the sheriffs with Vargas' family were other families whose loved ones have been killed by police, activist groups like Justice X and Centro CSO, as well as East LA community members.

After the showdown between protesters and deputies, Lisa Vargas, Anthony’s mother, led a militant rally that included testimonies from the families of Eric Rivera, Paul Rea, César Rodríguez, Daniel Hernández, Christopher Okamoto, Alex Flores and Vanessa Márquez. The following words are an excerpt from the kick-off speech by Lisa Vargas, a proud Chicana and one of the greatest activists against police brutality in Los Angeles:

“They're standing here with their guns out, with their batons. They're mocking us. They're laughing and smiling. They're in their cars clapping. But we have something better than that. We have our voice. Our voice is more important. Our voice is more powerful. Our voice gets through to people. And as a matter of fact, our voice in our votes determines where they stand.

So they could do what they want. They can laugh at us. They can put up their yellow tape. They could say that they're fearing for their lives and we're getting too close. But I bet you that's what our children were saying when they were touching our children.

My son was not only shot 13 times, but when he was down, he was hit in the head and he was hit on the side. He didn't hit back. But it's justifiable in [LA District Attorney] Jackie Lacey's eyes. We're not going to put up with it. We're not going to stop fighting. They can try to stop us with their little yellow tape and their badges and their guns and their cars. But we're still here. We live here.

We're going to continue to serve our communities, which is what they lack to do. They say they're here to serve and protect, but they're not. They're serving themselves. They're in their subculture gangs. They're doing their own thing in their departments. They don't have the balls to sit out here in the community and do what's right. They made a pledge to protect and serve. The only one they're protecting are themselves. The only one they're serving are themselves.

And we're done. We are done. We are the community. We are the ones at the end of the day that wake up and go into our communities, know about our communities, know what's happening. That is why they don't have information and they need to go public asking for assistance from the community.

Today we're here to honor my son, Anthony Vargas. My son turned twenty-one years old on July 27, 2018. My son was murdered. He was assassinated. He was killed on August 12, 2018. We waited for almost a year to get our autopsy report leaked to find out that the stories, the narratives that the sheriff's representative came out and spoke on that day were false. Our original narrative was that there was an officer in the front and an officer in the back. These cowards, these wannabe gang members were so intimidated by a 21-year-old that they shot him from behind, said that they feared for their life from behind, said that there was a threat.

But they're trained. They took their training, something we didn't do, and they have a badge. So how did they fear? That shows me that we have the wrong kind of people in our communities trying to serve and protect. Our community does more serving and protecting than any of these fools up here.

Now, they may have taken my son, but they didn't take my son's soul. They didn't take my son's legacy. My son lives in each and every one of them. They may have broken my heart, but they didn't break my body. As long as I live, I will stand here and I will be the voice for my son, along with every other Vargas family member here. And in case they can't see, in case they don't comprehend, let me show you further. We that are here are Anthony Vargas. We are his voice. We are the ones that carry him with us each and every day.

You may have shot him 13 times. You may have killed him. And you think you're going to get away with this. But guess what, Boo Boo? I'm coming for your ass. I'm not going to stop. You could sit there, you could laugh at us, you could mock us, you can harass us. As a matter of fact, let me put something on blast. August 12 was Anthony's actual two years that he had passed away. We got blocked in. We got harassed sitting at a tree that was given to us by [Los Angeles County Supervisor] Hilda Solis and the housing department. We got harassed leaving. They followed us all the way home.

That same night, crimes occurred behind law enforcement. So who is the one serving and protecting our community? When we're sitting there, they're blocking. When we're sitting there, they're harassing. We're not going to have it done no more. My son's name is not in vain. My son's life mattered. These people who have tattoos, who claim to be Bandito gang members, you want to be in the gang? Come out into the streets. Take off your badges and let's see you out in these streets.”

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