Santos Rodriguez Memorial Park
This park is named in honor of Santos Rodriguez, a 12-year old Chicano boy who lived in Dallas, Texas. On July 24, 1973, Santos and his 13-year old brother David were taken in a squad car behind a gas station to question a burglarized soda machine. According to testimony, Officer Darrel Cain warned that his gun contained only one cartridge, spun the cylinder, and pointed it at the back of Santos’s head, urging him to “tell the truth.” Santos maintained his innocence; the gun clicked once and did not fire. After Santos reiterated his innocence, Cain again pulled the trigger, and this time Santos was killed instantly, as his brother looked on.
Thousands of protesters marched through downtown Dallas just days after the shooting, venting their anger and frustration. An investigation later determined that the fingerprints at the scene of the burglary did not match those of Santos or his brother. Cain was tried and convicted of murder with malice by an all-white jury, but he was sentenced to a mere 5 years in prison for this heinous crime; he only served 2 ½. Outrage over the brevity of his sentence erupted from the community, but all attempts to have the case reviewed failed.
The workers of El Centro de la Raza have named our children’s park Santos Rodriguez not only in memory of this young victim of racism, but in defiance of the society that caused his death, and confident that we will win in our efforts to do away with racism. We use his name, not in mourning but to commemorate the day when we create a society that is truly democratic, that assures equal rights and a dignified, fulfilling life for all peoples. This park was named Santos Rodriguez Memorial Park to remind us all of the importance of respecting, loving, caring for, and protecting all of the world’s children.
Updates to the Santos Rodriquez story:
Dallas Police Chief Apologizes for a 12-Year-Old Boy’s 1973 Killing by an Officer
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