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Boyle Heights demands firing of LAPD's Frank Hernandez and justice for Richard Castillo

By staff |
May 17, 2020
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Boyle Heights protest demands firing of killer cop Frank Hernandez.
Boyle Heights protest demands firing of killer cop Frank Hernandez. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Los Angeles, CA - On May 15, over 75 people came together outside of LAPD Hollenbeck Police Station in Boyle Heights to demand the firing of Officer Frank Hernandez and justice for Richard Castillo. After a neighbor released a video of Hernandez’s horrible attack on the defenseless Castillo, Centro CSO began organizing the protest and circulated a petition calling for the firing of Hernandez that’s now been signed by over 1600 people.

LAPD has removed his badge and gun and placed Hernandez on home duty and Castillo has sued the city. Both the neighbor’s video and recently released footage from the body-worn camera of Hernandez’s partner have disproved Hernandez’s claim that Castillo was resisting arrest.

Hernandez’s assault of Castillo has enraged residents of Boyle Heights and surrounding communities, not only because the beating was recorded, but also because Hernandez is well known as the cop who shot in the head and killed Manuel Jamines, a day laborer from Guatemala, in September 2010. Centro CSO participated in the fight to jail Hernandez then and continues to organize today against LAPD killings of Chicanos. Despite this murder and other incidents on Hernandez’s record, LAPD shielded Hernandez and transferred him to Hollenbeck, a notoriously violent station responsible for multiple deaths of Chicanos in Boyle Heights.

When Centro CSO members arrived at Hollenbeck Station, they found the area directly in front taped off, the doors locked, and multiple officers posted on the roof video recording the protest. Throughout the action, Centro CSO member Sol Marquez called Captain of LAPD Hollenbeck Sonia Monico, who earlier had agreed to receive the petition signatures and the community’s comments as long as only one person delivered them. Once the protest began, Monico refused to answer calls and never came to the door to receive petitions.

“They could have fired or jailed Frank Hernandez back in 2010 when he killed Manuel Jamines, but they didn’t. They let him go. He had already shot two other people,” Marquez said. “Then he did what he did on April 27 [the date of the attack on Richard Castillo]. If he hadn’t been caught on camera, would we have known? I don’t think so.”

Castillo’s attorney, Wesley G. Ouchi, sent Centro CSO a letter that Lupe Torres read to the crowd.

“Dear Centro CSO: On behalf of my client, Richard Castillo, we would like to thank all of you for your moral support and efforts during this difficult time. It truly speaks volumes to the strength of a community when such a tragedy is able to unite people, under a common belief that all of us are entitled to be treated, by our governments, with common decency, respect, and humanity, regardless of our culture, status, wealth or beliefs,” wrote Ouchi.

After the reading of this statement and some chants led by Centro CSO, a number of family members who’ve lost loved ones at the hands of police in Los Angeles spoke. Lisa Vargas marched in with her whole family holding a large banner calling for justice. The relatives of Anthony Vargas, Jesse Romero, Jose Mendez, Edwin Rodriguez, Cesar Rodriguez and Christian Escobedo described the trauma that police killing causes and urged protestors to continue fighting for justice. The crowd responded by chanting the names of each victim.

Joseph Williams with Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles and Alex Sanchez of Homies Unidos also addressed the protesters, and multiple other organizations attended the event. Many young people attended and directed their chants at the officers perched on top filming the action. Sammy Carrera spoke about longtime friend Richard Castillo and attested to Castillo being a great guy. Drivers passing by honked as they read signs like “Bully with a badge caught on camera” and “Fire LAPD thug Frank Hernandez.” The National Lawyers Guild provided legal observers.

Eventually, Marquez decided to knock on the station’s front door so that she could drop off the signatures and comments. The five to six officers at the desk watched her but did not budge, ignoring the calls from protesters to open the station or come out and receive the petition. At the close of the protest, Marquez taped the packet of petitions to the door, ensuring that LAPD couldn’t ignore the public’s demands.

Centro CSO is continuing to collect signatures and comments as they will deliver the petition - which can be found here - to LAPD Chief Moore on Thursday, May 21 at 2 p.m. at LAPD headquarters located at 100 West 1st Street Los Angeles, California 90012. Those who want to unite with Centro CSO in this fight for justice, can call 323-943-2030, email [email protected], or visit Facebook: Centro CSO.