Pharr Riot (1971)

Image of police responding to Pharr Riot

A newspaper clipping shows law enforcement moving in position behind a fire truck.

Pharr Riot (1971)

Following recent incidents of discrimination and police brutality against Mexican-Americans, a group of protestors led by Efrain Fernandez and the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) gathered outside the Pharr Police Department on Saturday February 6, 1971. Tensions rose as the crowd grew over a four-hour period. Rocks were thrown, a riot errupted, and local law enforcement responded.

Thirty one people were charged with misdemeanor offenses of disorderly conduct. Sadly, during the chaos, Alonso Loredo Flores, an innocent bystander, was shot and killed. Allegedly Hidalgo County Sheriff Deputy Robert C. Johnson bullet fired into the crowd and a stray bullet ricocheted off the wall and hit Flores.

In the following weeks, the Pharr Riot gained national attention. Charges were brought against Fernandez for disorderly conduct and malicious destruction of property. Separate investigations were conducted by the Department of Public Safety and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Meanwhile, Union y Fuerza and other groups picketed city hall and boycotted businesses. 

Eventually, the mayor of Pharr, its commissioners, and chief of police were forced to resign. A grand jury isssued indictments and warrants for 10 people, including Deputy Johnson, who was indicted and charged with negligent homicide. However, he was acquitted following a brief trial in February 1973.

Learn more: