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April 25, 2014
The Mysteries of Salazar
By Wyman Sai, Student at the University of Arizona

The high-profiling of Ruben Salazar, a pioneering Mexican-American journalist, was a tragic death that is still puzzling to many because of what had happened is still unsolved. A journalist who covered the importance of Chicano Civil Rights Movements and such was killed in L.A by what we believe was a police brute force. The L.A County Sheriff’s Department was involved in this situation and should have been in supposed fault. Although, I myself, have not experienced an event that has tied into this incident that deeply, I have been researching on other topics that relate back to this and am as passionate as I am for the Salazar incident.

Relative concepts of unfairness in justice of society that we have discussed in class for a brief class period that I have always been concerned about were the issue of police brutality. For many decades now, since the concept of distributing police force to “create a peaceful” environment has been corrupted in parameters that are beyond believable. For instance, we can relate this case to the Rodney King incident, where he was beaten by police officers, because the police officers “can.” The report on Salazar was that an L.A. sheriff Department deputy shot an eight-inch tear-gas without warning, which struck Salazar in the head. The death of Salazar with documents from the Sheriff’s Department were locked up from the public from more than 40 years, which gave a sense of the department that they were hiding something from everyone, including the families. Even after the release of the documents, they were only allowed to be viewed by personnel that were qualified to view it, and even so, Sheriff’s still had to supervise the people that reviewed the documents.

A personal experience that I cannot even compare to this case, but I thought was bad at the time was where I grew up. The south side of Tucson has always been categorized as the “Compton” of California. I lived in a neighborhood where it would have been 2 in the morning, and you can hear sirens going up and down the streets not too far away from the house. I thought that hearing sirens at the time was bad enough, but now that I study more and more into the Salazar case, and all this police brutality that has been going on in these past decades, it is crazy how my perspectives has changed. I could only imagine how Salazar’s family members must have felt with all the media surrounding them, but couldn’t release information because they, themselves didn’t even know what was going on. At the time, Salazar did not intend to go in there and meet death; he was just an innocent journalist documenting the truth of social injustice. I’ve actually personally witnessed an event that was somewhat socially injustice, which was when a cop had stopped a minor in the streets because of curfew. At the time I didn’t have a car, and I was with one of my buddies, and we walked past them only to see that the police was emotionally destroying the kid. The kid talked back to the officer, but for the officer to make a minor feel like curfew was a larger deal than it was is definitely unnecessary.

As a journalist that revealed the indignation over the lack of civil rights, and police abuse in the community; he felt that the police authorities needed to pressure and threat him into the halt of creating controversial issues. His struggles as a journalist who spoke the truth was that he always felt like he was being followed, and an attempt from the authorities to stop him was coming anytime. Also, in the past, there is a history in time where L.A. Police Sheriff’s “intelligence squad” was spying on individuals that were promoting the rise of existing social injustices. People like: Martin Luther King, Malcom X, and Robert Kennedy were eventually killed “unknowingly or secretly” after civil rights public speeches were spoken publicly. Salazar represented an idle of reform, which was probably why he was a set target from the beginning of the event.

People all around the world still do not believe that the incident of Ruben Salazar was not an assassination of some type. His ultimatum was to gradually serve justice through his works. Ruben could have made history such like Martin Luther King, but was prevented from outside enemies that could not stand the truth. Unfortunately, brute force from the L.A. Sheriff Department was deployed among Salazar, and he could not finish his works and possible reformation of the Chicano community. What Salazar left with us amongst his death was something more than reform. It was hope that his works did not go to waste, and can crack down on the abusers of the society of brute force. He left us with the thought of never allowing a community the feeling of terrorization, or the ability to subjugate to stand our ground.

Bio: Wyman Sai, sophomore majoring in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Arizona.