There was an emotional ceremony at Pike Park at the aptly named Santos Rodriguez Recreation Center Saturday morning.
Bessie Rodriguez stood in front of the statue of her son surrounded by a sea of support.
She didn’t speak publicly during the ceremony for her son, but her silent gratitude and sorrow spoke volumes.
“I think that this statue allows his memory and what happened to live on,” said Fonya Mondell, with Dallas Park & Recreation, Council District 2.
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The spot of that statue was once a swimming pool in Pike Park that Santos Rodriguez visited as a child.
This sculpture is how he looked when in 1973 a Dallas police officer pulled him and his brother from their home, accused them of an $8 theft from a vending machine, and shot and killed the teenager.
“So much change happened because of this. The marches that happened, and the political activism from the Hispanic community really helped make a change in where we’re at today, with their voices being heard,” said Mondell.
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City leaders, including Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, spoke to Bessie Rodriguez, who sat quietly in the crowd.
Dallas City Councilmember Jesse Moreno, who grew up in East Dallas, has gotten to know her over the years.
“She’s getting older and she’s had medical issues in the past, and I’ve never seen her glow like I have this week. For her to be here in front of the statue and take it all in, was all worth it,” said Moreno.
The artist behind the memorial statue spoke during Saturday’s ceremony.
He wants the family to know that they have not been forgotten - and that people in Dallas, and across the country, still care.
Rodriguez’s family said Santos continued to tell the police officer that he was innocent, up until his death.
The officer was convicted of murder with malice, but only served two years of a five-year sentence.