Yesterday I got a letter in the mail with a Ruben Salazar stamp on it. For those of you who haven't seen it yet, here's a picture:
I don't know anything about journalism (or journalists) so I had to go look him up, and what I've been learning so far this afternoon has really been eye-opening.
Mini-summary: Ruben Salazar was a Los Angeles Times reporter and news director at KMEX (radio station). He was covering the historic Chicano Moratorium protests against the Vietnam War on August 29, 1970 when he was murdered - or assassinated, depends who you ask - by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (they shot him in the head at short range with a tear gas canister). Even though his death was a ruled a homocide, no one was ever held responsible for his death. Here's a photo taken a few seconds before Salazar was killed.
Getting back to the stamp, I think it's more than a bit awkward how it reads: "during Chicano protest rally in East Los Angeles". What's that supposed to mean? Wouldn't "Murdered by LA Sheriff's Dept." be more to the point?
I'm always fascinated by how hegemony works. Like how government agencies will, from time to time, memorialize an individual who are instrumental in directing critical attention towards the government itself. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a stamp. Hell, even Malcolm X had a stamp. I'm sure one day Noam Chomsky will have one too. I can only conclude that stamps with naughty people on them is a nice (i.e., harmless) way to show that we live in an open society that welcomes dissent. While our government continues to develop mechanisms to monitor and suppress dissent, publicly it's celebrated. The message is clear: ideas like dissent and resistance are wonderful - but if you start making it a habit you might get shot in the head.
Anyway, I'll go to the library this weekend to try to see if I can find Hunter S. Thompson's article on the historical context surrounding the Salazar killing, Strange Rumblings in Aztlan.
There will be a remembrance and procession held on the anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium March on Friday, August 29 at Ruben F. Salazar Memorial County Park (3864 Whittier Blvd., East L.A.), at 2 p.m. Bring flowers and candles if you go. Contact David Sanchez if you need more info: (323) 263-3352.