Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Silver Dollar Cafe - Ruben Salazar Death Location Today
On August 29, 1970, Rubén Salazar (March 3, 1928 – August 29, 1970) was covering the National Chicano Moratorium March, organized to protest the disproportionate number of Chicanos killed in the Vietnam War. The peaceful march ended with a rally that was broken up by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department using tear gas. Panic and rioting ensued, during which Salazar was shot in the head at short range with a tear gas projectile while seated in The Silver Dollar Cafe. A coroner's inquest ruled the shooting a homicide, but the sheriff's deputy involved, Tom Wilson, was never prosecuted. At the time many believed the homicide was a premeditated assassination of a prominent, vocal member of the Los Angeles Chicano community.
The riot started when the owners of the Green Mill liquor store, located around the corner from the Silver Dollar Bar on Whittier Boulevard called in a complaint about people stealing from them. Deputies responded and a fight broke out. Later on that day cadets from the nearby Sheriff's Academy were bussed to then marched into the park. A fight ensued with the untrained cadets being beaten up. This led to more rioting. The Green Mill liquor store is still located at the same place on Whittier Boulevard. The owners later denied contacting the Sheriff's Department.
The L.A. Times columnist was resting in the Silver Dollar Bar after the Vietnam War protest became violent. According to a witness "Ruben Salazar had just sat down to sip a quiet beer at the bar, away from the madness in the street, when a deputy --ignoring the pleas of a woman outside who begged him not to shoot-- fired a tear gas projectile" at a crowd which went into the interior dimness of the bar, hitting Salazar in the head and killing him instantly. The sheriff’s deputy fired a 10-inch wall-piercing type of tear gas round (for use in barricaded situations) from a tear gas gun, rather than the type of tear gas round designed to be fired directly at people (which produces a plume of tear gas smoke). The Sheriff's deputy was found to have mistakenly loaded the wrong type of tear gas round. The 10-inch tear gas rounds of both types were identical in size and shape and a tear gas gun is extremely inaccurate beyond about twenty yards.
The story of Salazar's killing gained nationwide notoriety with the release of "Strange Rumblings in Aztlan," an article written for Rolling Stone magazine by gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson and released on April 29, 1971 in Rolling Stone #81. In February 2011 the Office of Independent Review released a report of its examination of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department records on the death of Salazar. After reviewing thousands of documents, the civilian watchdog agency concluded there is no evidence that sheriff's deputies intentionally targeted Salazar or had him under surveillance.