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East Los Angeles vigil honors Paul Rea, killed by LA Sheriff's deputy 1 year ago

By staff |
July 5, 2020
East Los Angeles vigil honors Paul Rea
East Los Angeles vigil honors Paul Rea (Luis Sifuentes)

Los Angeles, CA - On June 27, exactly one year after an East Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed 18-year-old Paul Rea, his family and friends gathered in East Los Angeles to hold a vigil in his honor. Taking place at the site on South Gerhart Avenue where Rea was murdered, the vigil included speeches from families of other Chicano and Black victims of police brutality in Los Angeles, a sermon from a pastor, and a balloon release.

On the evening of his death, Paul Rea and a friend were driving close to his home when two LASD deputies pulled them over for allegedly running a stop sign. The cops accused Rea’s friend, who had been driving the car, of being high on marijuana. When they attempted to detain him, Rea broke free and ran, but Deputy Hector Saavedra fired a number of shots, striking him in both his forearms, right thigh, and neck. Rea’s mother and sisters have said his decision to flee was easily explainable: Deputies harassed and brutalized his family throughout his childhood and Rea had grown up afraid of the Sheriff’s department.

The ELA Sheriff's station has a long history of brutality and killing Chicano young men in the East Los Angeles area. The ELA Sheriff's station is also known for its brutal deputy gang, the Banditos, who are facing a current FBI investigation. The station deputies use the logo and name “Fort Apache,” which is an insult to the proud working-class Chicano community of ELA.

On May 12, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey cleared Deputy Saavedra, disregarding the many discrepancies in his account of Rea’s killing. Deputy Saavedra and his partner accused Rea of punching him but security footage that does not capture any altercation. They also claimed that Rea was armed but could not describe the gun that Rea allegedly had. DAs Lacey’s decision to not prosecute Deputy Saavedra fits into her consistent refusal to hold police accountable for the hundreds of killings of innocent civilians that have occurred during her eight-year term.

At the vigil, candles and a poster of Paul Rea lined the street. After some words from the pastor, relatives of Ryan Twyman, Christian Escobedo and Daniel Hernandez spoke about their sons and brothers who were killed by police, current campaigns for justice, and the need to vote out DA Lacey. The families of Edwin Rodriguez and Anthony Vargas, who were also killed by LA Sheriff’s Department, as well as the families of Cesar Rodriguez and Jesse Romero, also attended in solidarity. After these speeches, the Rea family led a release of red balloons into the sky.

In line with the pattern of continuous harassment that Rea’s family has experienced since his murder, three sheriff’s cars drove up and stopped at the vigil. In the past few months, Rea’s mother, Leah, has been pulled over and put in the back of police cars twice. His sister Jaylene was detained and cited for “obstruction of evidence” shortly after speaking at a rally in October. Despite this intimidation, Rea’s family has filed a civil lawsuit against LA Sheriff Alex Villanueva, the Sheriff’s Department, and the cops involved in Rea’s death.

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