The Death of Radio Bandido: A Chicano Mystery
The Death of Radio Bandido: A Chicano Mystery
For 17 years there has been no explanation as to how my buddy Oscar Gomez died in Santa Barbara. This is my attempt to figure out why.
For 17 years there has been no explanation as to how my buddy Oscar Gomez died in Santa Barbara. This is my attempt to figure out why. Read more
Oscar "Bandido" Gomez was a radio activist based out of the University of California, Davis who roamed the Golden State like the famous social bandits of a hundred years before. He was a hero, a voice for human rights in the U.S. and abroad and exposed audiences to many struggles against injustice. Oscar emerged as a citizen journalist with a loyal audience ranging from farm workers, neighborhood youth, activists, prison inmates, and college students.
His weekly radio program, La Onda Chicana on KDVS FM began in the early 70's during the Chicano Movement- the socio-political movement that galvanized a new generation of Chicano civil rights advocates. Oscar carried on the show's historic musical tradition until he quickly recognized the opportunity to develop it into more than just a Chicano music show. By educating and empowering the local community through the moniker "ritmo & resistencia" (rhythm & resistance), "Bandido" was born. It was while studying at UC Davis, Oscar's socio-political consciousness was developed during the political environment of the Quincentennial, NAFTA, Proposition 187 and the Zapatista Uprising in Chiapas, Mexico. In those politically polarizing times, Oscar took the message of community self-determination, fighting against racism and for social injustice to larger audiences through La Onda Chicana, public protests and networking up and down the state. A typical weekend for Oscar could include attending a protest along the San Diego/Tijuana border, buying Oldies and Mexican music in East LA, waking up in San Francisco to cover another protest and then back to Davis for his Sunday evening radio program and classes.
WHY AM I TELLING THIS STORY?
Oscar was a personal friend of mine. We both left Southern California to continue our education in Northern California to pursue our goals of using media as a tool to reach, educate, communicate and connect with our community. In 1994, sadly, Oscar's body was found on the shores of Santa Barbara. The local police dismissed the case as an accident. The more I studied the official recorded circumstances of his death, the more I realized it is filled with unsatisfactory explanations, unexplained conclusions and unanswered questions thus making the case of Oscar's death a perfect example of the type of injustice and oversight that Bandido himself would expose through the media.
Oscar's unexplained and tragic death silenced a voice of the Chicano Movement as well as a new generation of journalists. Some to this day still have a difficult time discussing this time period, while others are uncomfortable by the mystery of Oscar’s death. Radio Bandido is part of a healing process that has yet to happen between friends and families that were bonded by a common struggle and a connected to one person, our friend Oscar. With the cooperation of Oscar’s friends and family, his voice is brought back to life and we are given an opportunity to reflect on his case and our world. This documentary needs to be finished now because, unfortunately, as time continues to pass us, I feel we move further away from the truth of that fatal night.
Creating Radio Bandido has allowed me to touch the lives of countless amounts of Oscar’s friends and family. The film is full of many remembering him, the essence of his work, his being and his activism. This documentary is not only a sincere heartfelt attempt to make clear the events of that night which led up to Oscar’s death but also shedding light on his journey from Baldwin Park to the unfortunate bluffs of Isla Vista, Santa Barbara. Without fully comprehending the possibilities of what might have transpired that night and without fully appreciating the significance of the voice we all lost, we can’t possibly move forward. Radio Bandido begins the process of moving in that direction.
Where will the funds go?Currently, I am in the post-production phase and nearing completion. Your support will help us finish this 5-year journey. With funds in place, our Radio Bandido will benefit from working/consulting with a professional editor, an animator and graphics specialist who will help illustrate certain theories of how Oscar may have died.
Completion funds will also support the mastering of the final sound mix, color correction and help to clear music rights. Backing Radio Bandido will ensure the project will have an original score, assist with marketing and promotional services, travel and entry fees to film festivals. Though completing the project is a major goal of this campaign, it is equally just as important that we get Radio Bandido on the screen, into the classroom or onto your tablet. All of these funds give us a fighting chance to achieve this.
Who's on board?
Just as Oscar was influential in many Latino communities throughout California, several people are ready to collaborate on Radio Bandido, including singer/composer Francisco Herrera, Artist John Leaños and Burning Wagon Productions, East L.A. band Los Bullets and graphics guru Sergio Torres Every cent of your donated money will make its way into the completion of the film. Every donation, no matter how large or small, will make a difference, and in turn will get Oscar’s story not only out into the world but give it a long life!
-Pepe Urquijo & The Radio Bandido Team
- (36 days)