During our third meeting of the semester in Making HERstory, students got the chance to gain knowledge on police brutality and analyze recent events that have taken place in our community. Students were given a task of searching the shelves of the library for information on the four different figures, including Pearl Pearson, Luis Rodriguez, Oscar Grant, and Vincent Chin. As the students searched through books and magazines, it became evident that no information could be found. The purpose of the exercise let students become aware of the limited information on police brutality cases that simply got thrown to the backburner. Of the two men, Pearl Pearson and Luis Rodriguez faced police brutality in our very own state of Oklahoma, both within recent months.
On February 14, 2014, Luis Rodriguez and his family took a trip to Warren Theater, in Moore, OK, for a family outing. Luis was the husband of Nair Rodriguez and father to two young women. Before cops arrived, Nair and her daughter got into a heated argument, which ultimately ended up in a physical alteration between the two. As Luis intervened, the police aggressively approached him. The police officials who became involved in this case claim that it was Rodriguez who was incompliant in providing identification. The alleged refusal resulted in the officer pinning Luis to the ground, to the point of suffocation. As a result of blocked airways, Rodriguez passed away. Rodriguez was 44 years of age and of Puerto-Rican descent.
Melissa Salazar and Maria Gaytan, who are both students at U.S. Grant and Making HERstory, offer their opinions concerning police brutality in our community:
“My argument is why specifically, out of so many people that were present at Warren Theater, did they choose Luis to show them his ID? When his wife is the one that slapped their daughter, the least the cops could have done was arrest her. Have you ever stopped to think that the cops approached Rodriguez based on his skin complexion? Gender differences create a world in which a dark-skinned male is targeted more frequently. Because he had a dark complexion, the police might have perceived him as a greater threat towards them and the community. In fact, people of white complexion inhabit the majority of the population in Moore. We do not believe that is an excuse to single Luis out, violating his rights, and causing an unnecessary death in their family. The situation could have simply been handled in a less aggressive manner.”
Our second person of interest is Pearl Pearson, who was allegedly beat for disobeying disorders that he could not hear. On the evening of January 3, 2014, Pearl was pulled over by two Oklahoma highway troopers and immediately struck in the face multiple times. Troopers were suspicious of his lack of compliance, but in fact, Pearson is deaf. Pearson, who is, indeed, deaf and severely diabetic, even had a place card on his window confirming this. The physical altercation lasted a whole seven minutes and left Pearson with severe swelling and bruising to his face.
“The events that took place with Pearl Pearson could happen to anyone, including you. This man was innocent, sick, poor, and did not deserve this treatment. It seems that the troopers did not think before they acted, which resulted in a horrible and unjust outcome. We feel that these troopers felt that they were above the law. A worthy and skilled individual, who protects and serves their community, and not creating unnecessary havoc on innocent people, should wear that badge.”
-Melissa Salazar and Maria Gaytan