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REMEMBERING MAGDIEL: Civil-rights groups come together to protest the officer-involved shooting of deaf Latino man

Brown Berets de Cemanahuac
Image from the first march in support of Magdiel Sanchez.
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OKLAHOMA CITY— While many of Oklahoma City’s Caucasian activists were pre-occupied with the proposed closing of a local dive bar in order to make way for a Braum’s fast food franchise, a hearing-impaired Latino man by the name of Magdiel Sanchez, living on Oklahoma City’s Southwest side of town, was fatally shot by local police while walking in his neighborhood.

In order to keep his name alive in the public consciousness, it fell on the shoulders of minority civil rights groups such as the American Indian Movement, Black Lives Matter and the Brown Berets de Cemanahuac to take to the streets in a march on city hall that managed to keep the story in the public eye for a few days longer than the news cycle usually allows.

Things had noticeably cooled, however, as Oklahoma City spent weeks conducting their own internal investigations into the shooting, with results recently returning just last week that the courts will not be filing charges against the police officer that shot Sanchez.

It’s a verdict that has left Brown Beret de Cemanahuac leader Debra Mendoza “shocked and horrified,” as well as filled with “disappointment” for Sanchez’s family and Oklahoma City’s Latino community in general.

“I’m still in shock about this, but I guess I really shouldn’t be…it happens all the time,” Mendoza said.

“If somebody like Sanchez, a deaf man shot dead while crawling on his hands and knees, was white, it would be international attention. But, here, if you’re a Mexican, nobody really cares. It happened, get over it, move on. It’s hard on his family and it’s hard on all Latino people, on all of us, because we’re not just a faceless number. We’re not just “some” Latino person. We actually matter. We matter.”

With a mere plea to be finally “seen as human beings” by the police department, Mendoza’s Brown Berets, along with other local civil rights groups, will lead a second march on City Hall this Sunday.

Mendoza said this march is not only trying to bring attention to the injustices against Latinos, Native Americans or other people of color, but those in the community that are deaf or mentally ill as well.

“We’re trying to bring attention to a police department that needs more training in how to deal with people that are deaf and mentally ill,” Mendoza said. “That’s what we’ve been saying since the beginning of this; the police department of Oklahoma City does not have the proper training and for some reason they don’t want to give the police department proper training to deal with situations like this. It makes us feel like the lives of these people doesn’t mean anything to the police department because it’s mostly ran by people who feel the need to only protect the rights of certain people.”

The rally will be held at City Hall, 200 N. Walker starting at 2 p.m. on Sunday, December 17th . This is a peaceful march and rally so no weapons are allowed and no faces may be covered. All attendees must stay on the sidewalk during the march and entry ways are not to be blocked.

Mendoza said that there is some hope with this rally, however, as she, and other civil rights leaders, have been able to secure an appointment with the Chief of Police on Sunday morning. While past requests for meetings have fallen on deaf ears, Mendoza said that this might be a sign that change could happen, but only “time will tell.”

“Any person of color that wants justice for people that have been murdered by the police department should come out and support this march because whenever they see the unity of people of color coming together to bring attention to what’s going on inside the police department, they have to listen to a large mass of us,” Mendoza added. “If we’re ever going to resolve an on-going problem like this, it’s going to take all of us united for them to listen. When they see us all coming together, they won’t be able turn us away.”

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Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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