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Families hold vigil for Jesse Romero and Omar Gonzalez, victims of LAPD’s Eden Medina

By staff |
August 11, 2020
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Omar Gonzalez's sons.
Omar Gonzalez's sons. (Photo by Luis Sifuentes)

Los Angeles, CA - In the span of 12 days during the summer of 2016, LAPD Officer Eden Medina killed two unarmed Chicanos in the neighborhood of Boyle Heights. On July 28, 2016, Medina shot Omar Gonzalez twice in the back after multiple officers had tackled the 36-year-old father of two and held him face down. The LAPD immediately allowed Medina and his partner Alejandro Higareda to continue working in Boyle Heights. Then, on August 9, Medina shot 14-year-old Jesse Romero as he was surrendering with his hands in the air and starting to kneel. In both cases, District Attorney Jackie Lacey cleared Medina and the families lost their civil suits against the City of Los Angeles. LAPD merely transferred Medina to a different division.

On Sunday, August 9, the four-year anniversary of Romero’s death, the families of Jesse Romero and Omar Gonzalez along with Centro CSO held a vigil at the site where Eden Medina murdered Romero. Romero’s father and Gonzalez’s sons spoke about the pain that Medina, the LAPD, and DA Jackie Lacey have caused and the need to keep fighting for justice. Seven other families who have lost loved ones to police in different parts of Los Angeles and Southern California came out in solidarity. Attendees blocked off Breed Street off Chavez Avenue to show that Los Angeles belongs to the people, not the police who terrorize them.

German, Jesse Romero’s father, opened the vigil by giving a speech in Spanish about his son’s murder and how protesters must unify. Almost every Wednesday he attends the Black Lives Matter-LA protest outside of the Hall of Justice to demand that DA Jackie Lacey resign. Pointing to a poster of Eden Medina, German said, “They think because they have badges, they have the right to kill. But, no, nobody has the right to kill anybody. We have to stay united, protest and demand justice for all. It’s not a game. If we don’t protest, if we don’t come together, they’re going to treat us like garbage.”

Next, Omar Gonzalez’s sons spoke, thanking those in attendance for their support. "We have been going through this for four years and we are still yet to get justice for our dad, Jesse Romero, and all the other victims of police brutality," said Miguel Gonzalez. "We had to grow up with a big part of us taken away from us."

Following these words from Jesse Romero’s and Omar Gonzalez’s families, relatives of other victims of police brutality - Alex Flores, Anthony Vargas, César Rodríguez, Christopher Alexander Okamoto, Daniel Hernández, David Sullivan and Paul Rea - took turns on the megaphone. The families described how police had killed their sons, brothers, fathers and nephews and also informed attendees of upcoming actions and memorials.

Sol Marquez of Centro CSO concluded the vigil with an update on how the city council of Minneapolis has, predictably, backtracked on plans to abolish the Minneapolis Police Department. She called for community control of the police, so that the people have the power to decide the future of police departments.

Centro CSO continues to organize with families in Boyle Heights and East LA who were victims of police brutality and to fight against the privatization of education.

Visit and contact CSO at the following 323-943-2030, [email protected], or @CentroCSO on social media.