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Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's records on the Investigation of the Homicide of Ruben Salazar
0548  
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Description
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Records on the Investigation of the Homicide of Ruben Salazar contain documents maintained by the Sheriff's Department for more than forty years pertaining to preparations for, and responses to, the National Chicano Moratorium march and rally, among the largest anti-Vietnam War protests in Los Angeles, held on August, 29, 1970, in East Los Angeles. Also documented is the tragic aftermath--the ensuing riot, significant damages, complaints about the forced clearing of the rally in Laguna Park by Sheriff's deputies, and three deaths, including that of the highly respected Los Angeles Times columnist and KMEX-TV's news director Ruben Salazar. He and a colleague, one of the witnesses, were covering the Moratorium march, but took refuge from the chaos at the Silver Dollar bar. Salazar was killed instantly when he was struck by a tear gas projectile fired into the café by Deputy Thomas Wilson. A major portion of the collection contains the investigation into Salazar's untimely and still controversial death. Two other less extensive investigations cover the death of a teenage member of the Brown Berets, apparently from an explosion during the riot, and a deputy-involved shooting of a man who allegedly drove his vehicle directly at deputies. Although most of the documents are in English, some items are in Spanish.
Background
At the time of the August 29, 1970, National Moratorium March, Ruben Salazar was a highly respected columnist for the Los Angeles Times and news director for KMEX-TV, Los Angeles' first Spanish language station. In 1959 he had joined the Los Angeles Times as a reporter, becoming the first Latino journalist in the US to work for an elite mainstream newspaper. In 1963 he wrote an award-winning series on "Spanish-speaking Angelenos," addressing much needed educational reforms and other civil rights injustices in the Mexican American community. From 1965 to 1968, Salazar was assigned to the L.A. Times' foreign desk, he spent time in Vietnam covering the war, and held the coveted position of L.A. Times' Mexico City Bureau Chief, covering many Latin America countries. In June 1968, the L.A, Times called him back unexpectedly to Los Angeles to cover what they saw as a "new Mexican-American uproar..." at home. (Letter from the Times foreign editor Bob Gibson to Salazar, June 13, 1968, in the Ruben Salazar papers) During that year there were many high school student walkouts, or "blowouts," in East Los Angeles. The L.A.Times possibly viewed Salazar as the journalist on their staff who could best cover these events. He and his family soon returned to California. On the day of his death he was covering the Moratorium march for the Times and for KMEX-TV. During the afternoon he and a Times photographer, one of the key witnesses, took a break from the chaos in the street and entered the Silver Dollar bar. There are still many unanswered questions about the events that day that may never be resolved. What is known for certain is that Salazar was killed instantly when he was struck by a tear gas projectile fired into the café by Deputy Thomas Wilson. As the Office of Independent Review concludes in their report "It was not an era of openness and public transparency. The Sheriff's Department … offered few explanations and no apologies. That posture fueled the skeptics." (OIR Review, p. 17)The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Records on the Investigation of the Homicide of Ruben Salazar contain historical documents dealing with the homicide investigation of the circumstances of journalist Ruben Salazar's death and extensive materials about the National Chicano Moratorium March, among the largest anti-Vietnam War protests in Los Angeles, held on August 29, 1970. Included are documents on the planning and events leading up to that day, information on the organizers, intelligence on radical groups and participants of the march, and the tragic conclusion. By the end of the day, the march that began peacefully at Belvedere Park in East Los Angeles had become a full-blown riot near Laguna Park, with extensive damages, many arrests, complaint reports, and three deaths, including Salazar's at the Silver Dollar bar. Following the homicide investigation, there was a 16-day televised Coroner's inquest, one of the longest and most costly in Los Angeles' history. When it concluded, District Attorney Evelle Younger issued a statement indicating among other things that he would not pursue criminal charges against Deputy Wilson, who had fired the tear gas projectile that killed Salazar. Sheriff Peter Pitchess followed with a statement indicating there had been no misconduct by any of the deputies involved in the shooting or during the riot. Salazar's wife Sally filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the County of Los Angeles and was awarded damages. The case was considered closed and the files were inaccessible for forty years. In 2011 the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review (OIR), at the request of the Los Angeles County Sheriff, produced a special report after a careful examination of the files. The OIR's Review, many Public Record Acts requests for access in 2010, on the fortieth anniversary of Salazar's death, media coverage, and a lawsuit by MALDEF, eventually led to the opening of the files.
Extent
9.8 Linear Feet 10 boxes
Restrictions
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Department of Special Collections at specol@usc.edu. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.
Availability
Advance notice required for access.