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LA demands community control of police, Justice for George Floyd and Richard Castillo

By staff |
June 16, 2020
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LA protest demands community control of police.
LA protest demands community control of police. (Photo by Luis Sifuentes)

Los Angeles, CA - On June 13, Centro CSO held a protest at the corner of Houston and Soto Streets in Boyle Heights, less than a block from where killer LAPD cop Frank Hernandez was caught on video brutally attacking Richard Castillo on April 27. Protesters demanded community control of the police and justice for George Floyd, Castillo and all victims of police terror.

Organized as part of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression’s Day of Action to Stop Police Crimes, the event also celebrated the recent prosecution of Officer Hernandez after a campaign led by Centro CSO.

On June 9, after the release of the video of the incident, a lawsuit, a May 15 protest at LAPD Hollenbeck station and the circulation of a petition, LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey filed one felony charge of assault under color of authority against Officer Hernandez. If he is found guilty, Hernandez could receive up to three years in prison.

Centro CSO organizer Sol Marquez rallied the 50-person crowd with chants, like “Black lives matter” and the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other African Americans and Chicanos killed by police in Los Angeles and across the country. Throughout the protest, people driving by slowed down to honk in solidarity and neighbors came out to their steps to hear speeches.

Marquez spoke about the history of NAARPR and how the organization is driving today’s movement for community control of the police. She explained how the defunding of police and the prosecution of Officer Frank Hernandez are victories, but only democratic community control of the police will truly build power for those who experience police terror.

Carlos Montes talked about how Centro CSO had fought for the jailing of Officer Hernandez a decade earlier, when he killed Manuel Jamines, a Guatemalan day laborer. LAPD exonerated Hernandez and transferred him from the Rampart Division to Hollenbeck in Boyle Heights. Although the arrest of Officer Hernandez was positive considering DA Lacey’s track record of letting off killer cops, Montes pointed out how Officer Hernadez being able to leave jail in less than an hour without bail, just on his own recognizance, was an example of privilege in the criminal justice system.

The mothers of Jesse Romero and Cesar Rodriguez, both of whom were from Boyle Heights, spoke about how police killed their sons. Romero was a 14-year-old student at Mendez High School and the second victim of notorious cop Eden Medina of the LAPD Hollenbeck Division, who had killed Omar Gonzalez 12 days earlier in July, 2016. Rodriguez was pushed under an incoming Metro train during a struggle with Long Beach police officers who detained him for allegedly not paying his metro fare on August 29, 2018.

Diana Hernandez, the sister of Daniel Hernandez, told the story of her brother’s murder in April 2020. Officer Toni McBride, the cop who killed Hernandez, is the daughter of Jamie McBride, the leader of the union that represents LAPD officers. Hernandez’s mother said that not only Officer McBride is guilty, but so are all of her colleagues participating in the ongoing cover-up of the murder.

Toward the end of the protest, one Boyle Heights resident stopped in front of the rally to blast “FTP (Fuck the Police)” by LA rapper Y.G. out of her car stereo. Zada Musica played a pair of songs and Emiliano Martinez of AIM SOCAL, who provided the event’s sound system, both spoke and performed sacred indigenous ceremonial songs to close the rally.