“We all have blood on our hands!” shouted Sara Bana during her speech in front of the Oklahoma City police union hall Saturday.
“Every one of us that pays taxes that fund the Oklahoma City Police Department, including myself, have the blood of this 15 year old on our hands! And, I want to have accountability and justice for him. This family deserves accountability and justice for him,” said Bana to the crowd of about 25.
They were protesting the shooting death of 15-year-old Stavian Rodriguez by five Oklahoma City Police officers on November 23 after he attempted to rob a convenience store on the south side.
A KOCO TV video, shot by an off-duty news cameraman who happened by, showed that Rodriguez had surrendered and laid down his handgun, raised his hands, then lowered them to his waistband when officers shot him.
Friends say it looked like he was reflexively reaching to pull up his pants, which they saw him do often.
Police spokesperson MSgt Gary Knight at the scene that evening said Rodriguez “did not follow the officers’ commands” and made “furtive moves” resulting in their opening fire.
Previous coverage: Response to Stavian Rodriguez death strains police-community relations
Protesting the FOP
The protest – called “Bust up the FOP” – was held on the sidewalk in front of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge No. 123 union hall on South Agnew and S.W. 16th.
Various speeches at the protest blamed the FOP for defending “bad cops” and not allowing police officers to be held accountable for their actions.
Saturday, Rodriguez’s death was consistently referred to as a “murder” at the hands of police as one speaker after another decried the culture of the police union and their support of police officers who protesters believe are too eager to shoot.
“Until we can get charges against those [the five officers] that have committed this crime — charges, arrest and conviction — we’ll find ourselves in this exact same situation, day in and day out,” said Garland Pruitt, President of the Oklahoma City NAACP.
“Know that these men, these police chiefs, Wade Gourley, don’t want to change and won’t change because these guys got their backs,” said Jess Eddy pointing to the police union hall.
Protesters referred to a press release sent out later in the week by the FOP that they believe expressed little sorrow for Rodriguez and justified the shooting.
Saturday’s speakers called on Mayor David Holt, City Manager Craig Freeman, and OCPD Chief of Police Wade Gourley to sit down with the family of 15-year-old Stavian Rodriguez who was shot and killed by five OCPD officers at a convenience store on the south side November 23. A sixth officer fired a “less-than-lethal round” at Rodriguez at the same moment the other five fired their service weapons at him.
They want the family to be able to ask questions and get an explanation of why the incident ended in the death of Rodriguez.
The youth’s mother and other family members were present but had been advised by their attorney not to talk to the press.
And, once again, the usual contingent of opposing onlookers carrying sidearms and assault rifles showed up and glared at protesters from across the street. It has become a usual ritual that has not curbed the protests of the police yet.
Latest protest among many
Saturday’s protest of police practices was the latest in a long string of them since May 30 when thousands ended up being tear gassed in front of the Oklahoma City Police Headquarters protesting police violence.
Further escalation on subsequent evenings was averted in early June when Mayor David Holt sat down with protesters to listen to their concerns and then came out into the crowd to listen.
It was a credit to Holt’s negotiating ability but no doubt raised expectations that he could do that again in this situation.
Last week the FOP, City of Oklahoma City, and Black Lives Matter – OKC issued press releases on the Rodriguez shooting attempting to sway public opinion at the end of a tense week.
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