By Edith Yang
On Saturday, Oct. 28, the Silicon Valley Debug Office, a San Jose-based media center for community members to report local issues, held a fundraiser and cultural benefit event for the Custodio family. Attendees gathered to show support for Marlo Custodio, 18, brother Romel Custodio, 25, and single mother Marilou Custodio, 50.
The event was held for Marlo and his family in response to their violent encounter with members of the San Jose Police Department (SJPD) in the Evergreen Valley lake area last February.
“It started with Marlo … this cop comes without any provocation and starts roughing him up. [Marlo] calls his mom on his cellular and the mom arrives. Pretty soon, they’re roughing up the mom. The mom is petite!” said Sarah Gonzales, executive director for the Filipino Youth Coalition (FYC). “They taser Marlo and then the brother comes and they taser him so bad that he gets admitted to the hospital and now, they’re all being charged with resisting arrest. It’s just a situation which I believe went so out of control. [It] could have been managed more appropriately by the SJPD,” she added.
No one seems to know what triggered the police to arrest Marlo in the first place. Marlo Custodio was not able to say much about the case because it is in its pre-trial stages, but he said “It’s not just happening to me, it’s happening all over,” referring to the police brutality in San Jose.
The SJPD could not comment because the case is still pending and has yet to be viewed by the San Jose city attorney. Supporters of the family believe that the arrest was racially motivated, due to the fact that the Custodio family is of Filipino heritage.
For some members of the community, the actions of the police are disappointing. “I have great respect for the police,” Gonzalez said. “As an executive director of FYC, [I have] interacted with great officers in the force, but there are a few â€¦ it’s just so disheartening to realize that those who use excessive force [are the ones] driving the kids to [involve] themselves in negative behavior.”
Filipino support organizations such as the Filipino Community Support (FOCUS), FYC, Malaya, a joint organization with FOCUS, and the Coalition for Justice and Accountability participated in aiding the family through their pre-trial stage by attending court hearings and helping out with events.
Even though the fundraiser on Oct. 28 was in support of the Custodio family, Marlo Custodio said, “All the proceeds go toward the campaign to continue our work [to help] people who have been victims â€¦ we do a lot of know-your-rights workshops, so whatever we’re doing, everybody funds.”
The event raised over $1,000 with help from supporters. Community members donated $10-$15 at the door, while silent auctions on paintings and handmade jewelry from talented community members were held as additional fundraisers during the event. There were also spoken word performers sharing their experience with racism and expressing pride in their heritage.
Eric Tandoc, a member of FOCUS and a UC Santa Cruz graduate student in social documentation, said “I think the strong point in the event was the diversity of the performers.
It showed solidarity in the San Jose community and the greater Bay Area for the Custodio family.” Peter Chua, a FOCUS volunteer, said, “Our goal is to spread awareness and to educate people of their rights.” As for future goals of this campaign, “We really want the charges dropped, we believe that the charges have no basis at all,” Gonzalez said. “We have sent over 1,000 petitions to the district attorney’s office, but meanwhile we have that court date. We are hoping that at the court date, charges will be dropped.”
The Custodio family’s next court date is scheduled for Nov. 16 in San Jose, CA.