Four Decades Late, the City Apologizes for Murder of 12-Year-Old Santos Rodriguez

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Santos Rodriguez
In 1993, on the 20th anniversary of 12-year-old Santos Rodriguez's murder at the hands of a white Dallas police officer, the City Council pledged to "never allow such a travesty to reoccur."

It wasn't a particularly bold statement. Promising to stop police officers from playing Russian roulette with unarmed children accused of burglarizing a Coke machine doesn't set the bar terribly high, and the proclamation carefully avoided any suggestion that city of Dallas might have been at fault.

When mourners gathered at Rodriguez's graveside this July to mark 40 years since his death, the city still remained steadfast in its refusal to apologize, instead trotting out the same tired two-decade-old City Council resolution.

See also: Forty Years Ago, a Dallas Cop Shot a Handcuffed 12-Year-Old in the Head. Hispanic Leaders Haven't Forgotten.

Then, at Saturday's big, citywide Conversation about Race confab, Mayor Mike Rawlings surprised everyone by saying he was sorry.

"I got a lot of questions about apologizing for the death of Santos Rodriguez," Rawlings said. "I don't have any clue why this city hasn't apologized for that. There's no excuse for that. And on behalf of the citizens of Dallas, the Dallas City Council, the Dallas Police Department, we wholeheartedly apologize for the death of Santos Rodriguez."

Bessie Rodriguez', Santos' mother, who heard of the mayor's apology second-hand while she was cooking breakfast, was pleased. But she wants to hear it from Rawlings himself, and she wants the city to prove that it's truly sorry.

See also: Four Decades Later, the City Still Won't Apologize for Santos Rodriguez's Murder

"It's the beginning, you know - because we've been waiting for so long," she told NBC 5. "This is the beginning of something."

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Why would Rawlings apologize on behalf of the citizens of Dallas? The citizens had nothing to do with the young man's murder. If anything, Rawlings should also have apologized TO the citizens for Dallas for the shortcomings and abuse of power by the police department.

mavdog topcommenter

should not have taken 40 years, and kudos to Rawlings for saying what should have been said when Santos was killed.

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter


Kudos might be a little strong, IMO.

This cost Rawlings nothing, and as a matter of fact, at this point in time one could be quite cynical about his reasons for choosing to make such a statement.

I just have a hard time praising any p[olitician for token gestures like this.

mavdog topcommenter


why do you choose to apply the word "token"?

being the Mayor, the use of the word "apologize" carries more weight than I see you applying.

as for if the Mayor's actions cost him anything, time will tell. from the posts on this and other forums being an indication there's a lot of people who do not like apologies to hispanics....

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@mavdog @TheCredibleHulk 

I certainly did. I used the word "token" because it is part of the phrase token gesture - perfunctory or symbolic. I'm not sure what you're trying to imply by your question. -(Well, actually, of course I am)

Having given this some more thought, though,  I will give Rawlings credit for being the one to finally say it - 40 years late - and that it seemed sincere. 

That doesn't make it a particularly brave or noble thing to do. It cost him nothing, politically, an therefore comes off, to me, as a token gesture.

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