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Angry family, friends and supporters demand justice for Edwin Rodriguez

By staff |
February 21, 2016
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Estela Rodriguez, Stephanie Yanez, Juan Mendez, Obdulio Oliva, & Abel Rodriguez carry the banner marching toward the sheriff's station. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
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Protesters gather in front of the entrance to the sheriff's station. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Estela Rodriguez, Juan Mendez, Obdulio Oliva, Gabriella Rodriguez and Carlos Montes lead chants against the sheriffs. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Protesters demand justice outside the sheriff's station. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Los Angeles, CA - Family, friends and supporters of Edwin Rodriguez united to protest his murder by Sheriff’s Deputies of East Los Angeles, Feb. 20. Rodriguez was pulled over by East Los Angeles (ELA) Sheriffs, beaten and shot to death on Feb. 14th. He was shot over ten times. The sheriffs claimed that Rodriguez was in a stolen car. However, the car was not stolen; it belonged to the driver’s mother. Antonio Rodriguez, the family's attorney said, “There was no reason to pull them over.”

The Rodriguez family led chants against the sheriffs like “Asesinos! Asesinos!” and “What do we want? Justice! For who? Edwin! When? Now!” As sheriff patrol cars passed by, the protesters chanted louder. Other families of police brutality victims joined the Rodriguez family in solidarity. Obdulio Oliva, the father of Carlos Oliva, said, “I'm now scared of cops. I'll never trust that they'll protect me or my family. They're killers!” In 2013 Carlos Oliva, a college student, was shot in the back by Deputy Sheriff Nicolas Castellanos and Deputy Sheriff Anthony Forlano. Juan Mendez, father of Jose Mendez also joined the protest. Jose Mendez was the Boyle Heights teenager who was gunned down by LAPD on Feb.6. Mendez said, “My 16-year-old son was murdered by two LAPD officers. To this day I have not seen his body or know how many times he was shot. It's not right what they're doing to our children and our youth.”

Edwin Rodriguez' aunt, Gabriella, yelled at the top of her lungs, “The cops are a gang of killers! Today it's us! Tomorrow it might be you! We want justice!” A local community group in Boyle Heights, the Centro CSO (Community Service Organization) helped organize the protest. CSO has a long history of fighting police brutality against Chicanos, including the historic 1951 Bloody Christmas case. CSO also fought to get justice for Manuel Jamines, a Guatemalan Mayan day laborer, who was shot in the head on Sept. 5, 2010 by LAPD in the Pico Union community.

Stephanie Yanez spoke in front of station: "Why did they kill him? Edwin was a caring father he loved people. He loved to sing and draw". Sol Marquez with Centro CSO said, “How will we get justice? By doing what we're doing today! Working hard to keep building the movement! Keep fighting, keep organizing! Keep your head up, and keep being proud of being Brown!”

The protesters marched from the sidewalk to the steps of the sheriff's station. Holding banners that read, “Justice for Edwin,” and “Stop killer cops,” they chanted at the sheriffs inside, “Mexicanos unidos jamas seran vencidos,” and “Chicanos unidos jamas seran vencidos!”

Estela Rodriguez, Edwin's mother, told the protesters, “My son did not deserve this. So many cops against one person, is not justice. I want justice! For my son Edwin! For Carlos Oliva! For Jose Mendez! Who do we call now for justice? Why call the cops? So they can murder our children? I want justice!” The chanting continued and got louder and louder.

Longtime revolutionary and organizer with Centro CSO, Carlos Montes, pointed at the ELA sheriff's station and yelled, “I've been locked up in that jail! We have a long history of fighting for our rights. We have the energy, we have the people: Our youth, our veterans, our families – to fight back! We can win justice, we can win equality, we can win self-determination. We just have to organize ourselves unite and fight back!”

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in Los Angeles County has a long history of harassing, abusing and killing Chicanos and Blacks. Former Sheriff Lee Baca is currently awaiting sentencing, and his former second in command, Sheriff Paul Tanaka is awaiting trial, over a police abuse incident investigation in the LA County Jails. In the mid-1990s, the LA County Sheriffs provoked a confrontation and killed Smokey Jimenez in the Ramona Gardens Projects, causing a rebellion. Several other Chicanos have been killed by law enforcement in recent years in the Ramona Gardens Housing Projects of Boyle Heights, including Mauricio Cornejo and others.