Al Sharpton Remembers Rodney King at Valentina Orellana-Peralta Funeral: ‘Here We Are Again’

The Rev. Al Sharpton reflected on the 1991 beating of Rodney King and his effort to advance police reform in Los Angeles, saying, “And here we are again,” when he wrote a eulogy to Valentina Orellana-Peralta, 14. Diya, who was fatally killed by an officer’s stray bullet while shopping with her mother in North Hollywood last month.

Sharpton said he made the decision to travel across the country this week to attend the teen’s funeral in person. He began his remarks by recalling his reaction to the beating of King by Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers.

“Thirty-one years ago, I came to Los Angeles because the LAPD beat a man on the highway. His name was Rodney King,” Sharpton said. “I led the march and got involved in all kinds of efforts to prosecute those cops, and called on the Los Angeles Police Department to reform the policing system in this city and county. During those 31 years, We keep seeing LAPD get it. It’s wrong. And here we are again. How long will it take you to fix it?”

The Rev. Al Sharpton looks back on his push for police reform in Los Angeles as he delivers a eulogy for a girl who was fatally killed by an officer’s stray bullet. Above, the coffin of 14-year-old Valentina Orellana-Peralta is seen before her funeral at the City of Refuge Church on January 10, 2022 in Garda, California.
Robin Beck / AFP via Getty Images

Sharpton said: “There’s no argument for you to go to a department store two days before Christmas and look for the kind of person you might have been there to grow up with, but disregard the innocent life that leads to You could be in danger whatever strategy you use to try to go after this guy.”

Sharpton said that Orellana-Peralta’s death was both a “tragedy” and a “parody”.

“It could have been my daughter,” he said. “It could have been your daughter. And if we didn’t stop it, it would be your daughter or my daughter. It must stop.”

Orellana-Peralta was at the Burlington Coat Factory in North Hollywood with her mother on December 23, when officers responded to reports of an attack on the store with a deadly weapon. LAPD said December 27 news release That the body of a 14-year-old, later identified as Orellana-Peralta, was found in the dressing room area of ​​the store after officers exchanged with the suspect. Both the suspect and Orellana-Peralta were pronounced dead at the store.

The LAPD said preliminary steps taken in investigating the incident indicated that the teen was struck by an officer’s bullet that was fired at the suspect. LAPD chief Michelle Moore described the “chaotic” incident as “tragic and devastating for all involved”.

Days after the incident, the LAPD released surveillance video and body-cam footage, although the legal team representing Orellana-Peralta’s family said during a December 28 press conference that they believed additional footage. which may not have been released yet.

A public viewing for Orellana-Peralta was held at the Angelus Funeral Home in Los Angeles on January 8. His funeral was held on Monday at the City of Refuge Church in Garda.

Before Sharpton delivered the eulogy, members of the legal team representing Orellana-Peralta’s family addressed the attendees to reiterate their intention to pursue justice for her death. Attorney Ben Crump led the crowd on a brief slogan as he declared, “Valentina is innocent.” Crump said his “innocent blood” “will not pass out of the hands of the Los Angeles Police Department as long as they try to justify their unfair actions.”

Lawyer Rahul Ravipudi said Orellana-Peralta’s life was “unnecessarily snatched away from the AR-15 assault rifle he was accused of protecting.”

“Guiding us with the spirit of Valentina, we will uncover that truth, hold those responsible for her death, and implement changes that will enable all Americans, all immigrants, and all to realize the same American Dream.” Will allow: a place where we are raising children, a place where we feel safe and protected,” Ravipudi said. “And that’s the reason for Valentina.”

newsweek Reached out to the LAPD for comment and will update this article with any feedback.