Thursday, November 5, 2015

Remembering Santos Rodriguez

Altar at El Centro de la Raza, Seattle (2015)

Do you know about Santos Rodriguez?  
I did not until Estela Ortega, Executive Director at El Centro de la Raza, explained the story of the 12 year old Dallas boy shot in the head in 1973 by a white Dallas police officer.  Santos and his brother were handcuffed and taken from their home to be questioned for the burglary of a gas station soda machine.  Santos was in the front seat of the patrol car where the officer showed him his gun loaded with only one bullet. The policeman demanded that Santos tell the truth or he would place the gun to his head. Santos denied any wrongdoing and the officer pulled the trigger twice. The first time nothing happened, but the second time, in front of his handcuffed brother, Santos was murdered. No evidence was found that the boys were involved in the theft.

El Centro de la Raza with the City of Seattle built a park in memory of Santos. Learn more about the Santos Rodriguez Memorial Park here

This November second, forty two years after Santos's murder, his mother, Bessie Rodriguez, and a delegation from Dallas came to El Centro to visit the park and to remember and honor Santos for Dia de los Muertos.

Here is the poem I wrote for the occasion.

Think of Santos
-- In memory of Santos Rodriguez

Since not anger, not prayers, nor protests
The clock can stop and prevent the bullet
Fired by a half man and his coward hand
And no brotherly love nor mother’s tears
Life into his lifeless body may inject
We who live yet must Santo’s life recall
His narrow shoulders, the milk of his teeth
Remember his tomorrows in each day
In children smiling on their way to school
Cherish and protect the things he didn’t get
When you say his name he lives inside you
Inside me live his truth, his hopes, his dread

So as the moon calls tides from her distant perch 
So may one day soon Santos and Justice merge.