Ruben Salazar - Man In The Middle - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Midday Sunday With Tony Valdez

Ruben Salazar - Man In The Middle

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Award winning documentary film maker Phillip Rodriguez visits Midday Sunday today to talk about his latest film "Ruben Salazar: Man In The Middle."

The film chronicles the life of the Mexican-American journalist whose career began in El Paso, Texas.  One of his most notable newspaper stories began when Salazar got himself arrested so he could report on police abuse and conditions in the city's jail.  Salazar came to southern California when the Los Angeles Times offered him a job.  Instead of covering stories focused on the Mexican-American community, Salazar insisted on covering state, national and international stories.   He became one of the newspaper's most influential and respected journalists.  

Salazar was eventually persuaded to become the News Director at KMEX, the first full-fledged Spanish language television station in Los Angeles.  Again, Salazar made a name for himself, leading one of the city's most innovative newsrooms.

On August 29, 1970, Salazar and his camera crew covered the Chicano Moratorium March, the largest anti-war demonstration in the city's history.  Since his days at the Los Angeles Times, Salazar believed that the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department were targeting him, because of stories he had written that were critical of law enforcement in general and those two agencies in particular.

Salazar and his crew stopped at the Silver Dollar Cafe to get out of the heat and away from the peaceful crowd.  While they were inside, someone called the Sheriff's Department to report seeing two men carrying rifles into the Silver Dollar.  Deputies allegedly used a bullhorn to order everyone outside, but witnesses inside the Silver Dollar dispute that.  A short time later, a tear gas round, not designed for this type of situation, was fired into the bar.    Salazar was hit in the head and died instantly.  A coroner's inquest found Salazar's death was an accident.

Over the decades since Salazar's death, there have been dozens of allegations about his death being murder or even an assassination.  In recent years, the Sheriff's Department has opened its files to the public in an attempt to show that Salazar was not targeted by any law enforcement agency, but speculation about the circumstances and the cause of Ruben Salazar's death continue.

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