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Boyle Heights demands justice for Chicano teen killed by LAPD

By staff |
February 13, 2016
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Mendez family with supporters protesting outside Hollenbeck police station.
Mendez family with supporters protesting outside Hollenbeck police station. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Boyle Heights, CA - A great show of unity and solidarity against police abuse took place in Boyle Heights, Feb. 12, with a spirited protest of over 50 people. The Mendez family, friends, neighbors, supporters, activists and Centro CSO members protested at LAPD Hollenbeck police station over the Feb. 6 killing of Jose Mendez, a Boyle Heights teen. Protesters demanded justice for Jose Mendez and an end to police killings of our Chicano youth.

The Mendez family asked Centro CSO to organize the protest to get justice for Jose Mendez and to prevent this from happening to other families. Centro CSO united with the family and quickly organized the protest, which was viewed all over Southern California in local media outlets.

CSO has a long history of fighting against the police brutality of Chicanos, including responding to the historic 1951 Bloody Christmas case.

The protesters joined the Mendez family with friends neighbors and supporters. Many students from Roosevelt high school also came out. They chanted, “Ya basta! No más muertes!” and “Que queremos? Justicia! Cuando? Ahora!” and “Aquí estamos y no nos vamos.”

Sol Marquez with Centro CSO (Community Service Organization) spoke to the crowd. Marquez stated, “Today LAPD heard us loud and proud, Boyle Heights will continue demanding justice for Jose Mendez. It could have been any of us Chicanos, gunned down by these racist cops.”

Jose Mendez's father, Juan, thanked the protest for their support and said, “I fled from Mexico for the U.S. thinking there would be less violence. But there is more violence here. The police killed my son. I hope there is justice and I hope they are punished. I don’t want this to happen to other families.”

Carlos Montes, veteran Chicano revolutionary and organizer with Centro CSO, said, “The anger and frustration in the community turned in to a militant protest to denounce this brutal killing of a young Chicano. This protest is carrying on the long tradition of resistance to racist oppression in Boyle Heights such as police abuse, and extreme poverty. We will continue to fight back in our struggle for self-determination.”

In the center of Boyle Heights, on First Street, the protesters continued chanting. Drivers passing honked their horns in support of the protesters. Police helicopters hovered overhead. The protesters kept chanting, while people came up to speak through the bullhorn.

The family urged for help with funeral costs. They will be hosting a car wash fundraiser this weekend. The community is planning its next steps to fight for Jose Mendez and the family has retained an attorney.

The LAPD and other police departments in Los Angeles County have a long history of harassing, abusing and killing Chicanos and Blacks. In the mid 1990s, the LA County sheriffs killed Smokey Jimenez. As a result, the Ramona Gardens community rose up in angry protests. Several other Chicanos have been killed in recent years in the Ramona Gardens Housing Projects of Boyle Heights, including Maurico Cornejo, who was killed by Officer Matthew Meneses.
Other well-known cases are those of David Angel Ortiz, a teen shot in the back by a Los Angeles County sheriff; David Dominquez, who was brutally kidnapped and killed by the San Gabriel police; and Manuel Jamines, a Guatemalan Mayan day laborer shot in the head Sept. 5, 2010 by LAPD in the Pico Union community. Jamines’s murder sparked a rebellion and mass protests.

Besides these murders, on May 1, 2007, the LAPD attacked a peaceful festival for immigrant rights.