Rally Remembers Dallas Tragedy 40 Years Later

12-year-old was shot and killed by DPD officer who was playing 'Russian Roulette'

His death sparked unrest in Dallas 40 years ago, on Saturday night a community came together to remember a boy killed by a police officer.

Santos Rodriguez was shot while sitting handcuffed in a patrol car on July 24, 1973. Community activists held a memorial and rally on Saturday for the 12-year-old so people don't forget about his controversial death.

The area of Little Mexico where Rodriguez lived and died has changed a lot in 40 years. But at Pike Park on Saturday his mother and members of the Hispanic and African-American communities remembered the tragedy and once again called for recognition of the event by Dallas city leaders.

For those who were in Dallas in late July 1973, their passions remain high after all of these years.

"They have to know the history of what happened here," said Dr. Rick Halperin, a SMU professor of the practice of human rights, about what the younger generation should know about the event.

What happened on July 24th, 1973, is that Santos and his brother David were questioned about a robbery. Dallas Police officer Darrell Cain questioned Santos by playing "Russian Roulette", threatening the boy with his gun if he didn't speak up about the robbery. But a bullet was still in the gun and Rodriguez was shot in the head and killed. He was seated in a police car and was handcuffed.

In the hours and days that followed, rallies took place across Dallas and that led to riots.

"I don't know how many thousands of dollars of damage was caused, in what you would call it a riot, a full fledged riot," said activist Robert Medrano, who was there for those rallies in 1973.

A major, more peaceful, rally was held on July 27th, which is part of the reason a rally was held at Pike Park on Saturday.

Cain was ultimately convicted of murder in Austin, but only sentenced to five years in prison. Four decades later there is no recognition of what happened to Santos anywhere near where he lived or died. And his mother, Bessie, who attended Saturday's rally, has never received an apology. Many speakers demanded the current city leaders apologize for what happened to Santos even if it didn't happen on their watch.

"As long as this incident goes un-apologized for this wound to this family and community remain open," Dr. Halperin said.

On Saturday night they opened up those wounds and recalled those members in an effort to get that recognition.

"There's a lot of things that can come out in a positive," Medrano said.

And to learn from one of Dallas' darkest days.

"And the only way its going to be better is if we confront this terrible past and commit ourselves not to let it happen again," Dr. Halperin said.

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