Human trafficking doesn’t just occur in grimy, faraway places. It happens right here, in our backyards, every single day. The latest proof: A forced labor scheme in the basement of an Illinois home.
Last week, Concepcion Malinek was arrested for labor trafficking after federal agents found 33 Guatemalan immigrants locked up in her suburban Cicero home, NBC News reports.
The woman, 49, is believed to have helped several of the captives cross into the US and charged them thousands of dollars through forced labor once they arrived at her residence. If they did not pay up, Malinek, a dual citizen of the US and Guatemala, told them they would be deported.
One man, who authorities are calling Victim D, said he owed the woman $18,000 for letting him use her name and residence on his immigration paperwork. Another captive, a woman identified as Victim C who lived in the home with her husband and two young children, said Malinek was verbally abusive.
A federal prosecutor believes Malinek received at least $120,000 in cash from the hostages.
According to a 12-page federal criminal complaint filed in the Northern District of Illinois, Malinek held 19 adults and 14 children in her home since 2018.
The FBI were tipped off of Malinek’s operation in early March.
On Thursday, a federal judge at the Dirksen Federal Building denied her bond deeming her a flight risk and danger.
Malinek is in federal custody awaiting trial, where she faces a maximum of 20 years per count in the case.
The COVID-19 health crisis is shutting down governments around the world. The global infection rate crossed 1 million on April 2 and continues to climb. In the U.S., nurses and doctors are facing severe equipment shortages leaving many of the front-line workers vulnerable to contracting the virus, which has already killed more than 5,780 Americans. One nurse shared a heartbreaking video of her explaining why she had to quit her job as the crisis continues to unfold.
Imaris is a nurse in Chicago, one of the cities expected to see a high number of COVID-19 cases.
Illinois has seen an increase in cases recently. The latest numbers from Illinois show that 7,695 have tested positive for COVID-19. There have also been 157 deaths in the state.
According to her Instagram, Imaris is no stranger to the ICU and emergency situations.
As the war rages against COVID-19, hospitals and health care workers are calling for more equipment to help them fight. There is a shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) including face masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves. PPEs keep the doctors and nurses safe when they are interacting with and treating sick patients.
The Chicago-based nurse took to Instagram to share her story about fighting COVID-19 and why she had to quit.
Imaris broke down what so many health care workers are currently facing. There is a shortage of the things they need to keep themselves safe. The nurse was most concerned about the lack of masks being given to nurses, 91 percent of whom are women. The lack of basic safety equipment bothered the nurse because she believes it does nothing to protect the nurses. In response, the nurse quit and warned viewers that “America is NOT prepared & Nurses are NOT safe.”
People are showing support for the nurse.
If you know someone working in health care, you understand the concern for their safety. The Chicago nurse says int he video that she is scared of going home to her family without having used the protecting gear all day.
Thank a health care worker today. They could use positive energy.
The people of San Francisco have a lot of heart. Yes, the wealthy thrive there, and the homeless community continues to grow, but somewhere in the middle is an empowering group of fighters for justice. They do not back down but instead make their voices heard loud and clear. It’s a tight-knit alliance that is responsible for forcing change on all fronts of authority. San Franciscans are also incredibly beautiful at honoring fallen residents.
Almost five years after 20-year-old Amilcar Perez-Lopez was gunned down by police in San Francisco, artists are honoring him with a massive mural in the Mission District.
The mural was designed and directed in community and collaboration by Carla Elana Wojczuk with, Homies Organizing the Mission to Empower Youth (HOMEY), Justice4Amilcar Coalition, Mission community, Lucía González Ippolito, and assisted by Flavia Elisa Mora; Lead Muralists: Carla Elana Wojczuk, Lucía González Ippolito, Cristian Muńoz, Anna Lisa Escobedo, Adrianna Adams, Flavia Elisa Mora (painting and poetry), Pancho Pescador; lettering: Sonia G Molin. The mural is titled “Alto al Fuego en La Misón” and the most prominent subject on the mural is Perez-Lopez, the undocumented young man from Guatemala.
On Feb. 26, 2015, Perez-Lopez was fatally shot by the SFPD, who were in plainclothes in the Mission District. The officers reported that they “opened fire to protect themselves and others from a man who was acting erratically and was armed with a knife,” the SFGate reports. Witnesses told a different story. They said Perez-Lopez was running for his life, which is why he was shot in the back.
The Perez-Lopez investigation went on for years, and in the end, the SFPD was never charged, but Police Chief Greg Suhr did resign from his post. However, it wasn’t just because of the pushback from the Perez-Lopez investigation but from multiple fatal shootings of unarmed people at the hands of the police. His parents eventually won a settlement from the SFPD.
Aside from the artful depiction of Perez-Lopez, the mural also pays tribute to Black and brown people who have died as a result of police brutality as well as people who have died on the southern border.
During the year in which he was killed, Perez-Lopez “was one of the 67 Latino people killed,” the Guardian reports. The publication adds that Perez-Lopez was also one of the 58 percent who was killed and unarmed.
“‘Why didn’t you put in Jessica Williams?’ Or, ‘Why didn’t you put in this person?’ The truth of the matter is that we just didn’t have enough space,” Ippolito told the SFWeekly. “And I wish we could include a lot more.”
Ippolito said she and the rest of the mural team were confronted with the fact they didn’t have enough space to put every person that lost their life because of the SFPD. The mural is already one of the largest murals “to be painted in the Latino Cultural Corridor in a decade,” according to the local publication.
“That was the hardest part,” Anna Lisa Escobedo, another artist on this project, said to SF Weekly. “From the community, a lot of people were saying, ‘We are missing this person, this person, this person.’ We could do five more murals and focus on people who had the same circumstances, and that is sad.”
This isn’t the first artwork that has honored Perez-Lopez.
His painted portrait was seen throughout the streets of San Francisco when residents demanded justice in his death. A couple of months after he was killed, artist YESCKA painted a mural that included Perez-Lopez. The mural was painted on the sidewall of the gallery Red Poppy Art House, which is located just blocks two from where Perez-Lopez was shot and killed.
The mural by Ippolito is pretty remarkable because of its use of bright colors, and the inclusion of Mexican motifs, both the Guatemalan and San Francisco landscape, and Perez-Lopez in his signature Giants baseball cap. But the mural is also representative of an altar of sorts. Perez-Lopez is pictured inside an altar, and the rest of the people that are honored in the painting are seen on prayer candles.
The other deceased individuals on the mural include Roxana Hernandez, Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, and Oscar and Valeria Martinez, who died either on the southern border or in ICE custody.
This mural is a perfect addition to the many outstanding paintings that the city of San Francisco has to offer.
One of my favorite things to do when I am back in the Mission is to go on a walking tour to gaze at the stunning murals that depict the people of San Francisco, but also the history of our community.