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Pharr Riot receives historical marker 50 years later

Local News
Credit: KVEO

PHARR, Texas (KVEO) — The city of Pharr unveiled a historical marker last weekend commemorating the Pharr riot that took place 50 years ago. 

This marker is placed in front of the Ramos Hairstyling Center where an innocent bystander was killed by a Pharr police officer.  

In the 1970s, several residents, mainly Mexican-Americans, felt the Pharr police officers were not serving their community fairly.

Other residents felt their education at the school district was not enough, while others felt their voices were not heard.

Overall, there was a divide among the citizens of Pharr based upon economic and ethnic lines, ranging from school zoning to the election of city officials.

A group of Pharr residents gathered in protest outside of the local police the department.

The police attacked the protesters and the event escalated into a riot where one man was killed.

Back in 2021, a Pharr resident was curious about the history. He made it his mission to make sure the Mexican-American civil rights movement was remembered.  

Credit: KVEO; Pictured: Thomas Ray Garcia

“It used to say, rest in power A.L.F, and I had no clue who A.L.F was, why he was resting in power, and what happened here,” said the founder of the College Scholarship Leadership Access Program   Thomas Garcia.

“I realized we needed more than a bench, so applied to the state historical commission in 2017 for a historical marker,” said Garcia. 

Credit: KVEO

It took Garcia four years to get the marker approved by the state and county with the help of many community members along the way.  

While doing research, Garcia learned a barbershop, owned by Estanislado Ramos, was one of a few Hispanic businesses that the city had at the time.

“He was always trying to get the Hispanic people aware of the economic and social injustice happening in the Valley, especially in Pharr,” said Stanley Ramos, the son of Estanislado Ramos.  

In 1971, after witnessing incidents of police brutality, a group of Pharr residents gathered in protest outside of the local police department.

Six blocks down where the barbershop is, a Pharr police officer was positioned across the street aiming to kill Ramos’s father through the window.  

“He missed, he hit the rain gutter of my dad’s barbershop, that ricocheted off the brick and struck Mr. Flores in the head,” said Ramos.   

Credit: KVEO

The Barbershop was also the meeting place La Raza Unida, a Chicano-civil-rights group. 

The tragic event led to the first-ever Mexican American mayor in the Rio Grande Valley to be elected in the city of Pharr. 

Pharr city commissioner Daniel Chavez said the historical marker was an important moment for his role as a city official. 

“This is a big reminder and a learning lesson that we have improved and we all have equal rights,” said Chavez.  

“I’ve never forgotten—I’ve never forgotten…Of course, my dad was my hero, and growing up he instilled in me the values to be proud to be American first and then proud to be of Mexican descent,” said Ramos. 

Credit: KVEO

It took Garcia four years to get the marker approved by the state and county with the help of many community members along the way.  

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