Culture

This is Why Latinos Feel Hopeless in California’s Gang-Riddled Central Valley

Young Latinos in California’s Central Valley are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Gangs being the rock and the police being the hard place.

But their troubled lives begin way before they have to face gangs or the police. Most of them come from broken, poor immigrant families that work in the produce fields. And with the severe drought plaguing the state, there hasn’t been much work. The unemployment rate is twice as high as the national average. So by proxy, many turn to gangs.

“It’s about hopelessness, bro,” says Jesse de la Cruz, a reformed gang member from the area with a Ph.D, to Vice, about how gang involvement doesn’t come from being poor. “Look around you, it’s like the Third World, man. People have nothing.”

READ: Could the U.S. be Blamed for Gang Violence in El Salvador?

Those who find themselves even remotely involved with either of the local rival gangs — Sureños, Norteños or any of the related chapters — are led by gang leaders in prison and find trouble fast. They become soldiers who execute orders such as killings and selling drugs.

Once they have to face the police, their troubled lives get more complicated. Assistant District Attorney Thomas Brennan and Lieutenant Froilan Mariscal enforce an injunction established in 2009, b asically a civil action where the city sues the gang for gang-related behavior punishable with jail time. And all the gang activity in the area is the reason Brennan doesn’t offer plea bargains to gang members facing long sentences.

To make matters worse, the city offers very few helpful social programs.

Read more about the long gang history in California’s Central Valley from Vice here.

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Horrific Footage Shows Police Officers Shooting Teen In The Back Of The Head And His Partner’s Response Is Shocking

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Horrific Footage Shows Police Officers Shooting Teen In The Back Of The Head And His Partner’s Response Is Shocking

The proliferation of security and surveillance cameras has revealed cases of police malpractice and brutality that usually target Black and Brown minorities. These cases range from people being stopped by police cars and then getting beaten up following a minor discussion, to instances in which police officers fire their weapons with fatal consequences. Since the bashing of Rodney King in 1991, a case of police brutality that was caught on camera and sparked outrage in the Black community, the police has been increasingly scrutinized and instances in which procedure is not followed lead to legal battles. 

Such was the case involving Officer Ray Villalvazo and teenager Isiah Murrietta-Golding, who was fatally shot by the officer during a chase in Fresno, California.

The chase happened after Isiah and his brother were approached by the police while driving a car. They were suspects in the killing of a man who had been shot and then crashed his car into a tree the day before. Isiah’s brother later pleaded guilty to the murder. The footage of Isiah’s death has resurfaced due to a wrongful death lawsuit that is being contested. Yes, Isiah shouldn’t have run away, but, according to the teenager’s father, who acts as the plaintiff, the killing was premeditated and unjustified. Also, there is a justifiable suspicion in these cases when it comes to discrimination towards minorities. 

The incident took place in April 2017, but the heart-wrenching footage has just been released.

The incident took place while police was chasing Murrieta-Golding, an unarmed suspect. The fact that he wasn’t carrying a weapon is key, as the use of blunt force was ultimately unnecessary because the suspect did not represent a clear and imminent threat to the officers. However, an Office of Independent Review investigation concluded that the shooting was justified because the policemen believed that Murrieta-Golding was reaching for a weapon. As the Daily Mail reports, independent reviewer John Gliatta wrote: “‘The reasonableness of force is based on the officer making a split second decision after observing the suspect reaching for his waistband area several times during the foot pursuit”. But the footage questions whether the decision was really made in a split-second. 

Yes, Murrieta-Golding was wanted in connection to a homicide . Yes, as we have said he was a fugitive and the officers were within their rights to capture him, but that does not mean they had to shoot him while he was running away. 

The cop’s partner says “Good shot!” after the gun is fired… as if they were hunting or playing a video game.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the video is the soundtrack, in which you can hear Villalvazo’s partner praising him for the shot. “Good shot!”. That is as wrong as it gets, from any point of view in which you wish to analyze it. It objectifies the suspect turned victim and makes killing seem inconsequential, like not a big deal. We can only imagine the suffering that was inflicted to Murrieta-Golding’s family after hearing these words. This kind of language is totally dehumanizing, and an affront to anyone who has been the victim of police brutality or who has lost a loved one in a similar way. 

This takes police brutality to a whole new level: it reveals systematic cruelty.

Murrieta-Golding was shot on the back of the head after he had jumped a fence. He died three days later in the hospital. The boy’s father watched the video and now he believes that the use of lethal force was not justified.  Legal analyst Tony Capozzi told ABC30: “From the video, the officer just comes up, crouches down, and shoots”. This description is chilling as it describes a calculated, cold action that does not seem to have been a “split-second decision”. 

The plaintiff’s attorney is now pushing to consider the shooting unjustified, and the bodycam footage potentially supports the claim.

As ABC 30 reports, plaintiff’s attorney Stuart Chandler, who represents the boy’s father, said: “Isiah and his brother were considered possible or probable suspects. There was not a warrant for their arrest. There was no conduct by Isiah that day to ever show that he had a gun – because, of course, he didn’t”.

In the bodycam footage we can see the teenager stopping and then jumping the fence surrounding a daycare facility, at which point the officer aims and shoots. Chandler continued: “The law says there has to be an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury, which clearly there wasn’t. This young man was trying to run away. And you can be as critical as you want about how you shouldn’t do that, but it doesn’t give police the right to use lethal force”. The trial is set for October 2020. And Chandler is gearing up for the case, having recently told CNN: “The fact that the police department and the city of Fresno’s police auditor all agreed that this shooting was justified is troubling in light of the video that clearly shows that it’s not”.

UPDATE: Prisoner Who Went Viral This Week For Disguising Himself As His Daughter To Escape Prison Is Found Dead

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UPDATE: Prisoner Who Went Viral This Week For Disguising Himself As His Daughter To Escape Prison Is Found Dead

@PhilippineStar / Twitter

UPDATE: Earlier this week an inmate went viral for his unusual attempt to escape prison disguised as his daughter. On Tuesday, Aug. 6, Clauvino da Silva was found dead in his cell by apparent suicide, according to CNN. 

Below is the story of how da Silva attempted to escape prison before his death…

Some things you just cannot make up.

Recently in Brazil, a gang leader attempted the tricky feat of escaping prison via some pretty lofty means: impersonating his own teenage daughter. To prepare for his attempt, da Silva, also known as Baixinho — or Shorty, attempted to pass guards at the Bangu prison complex in Rio de Janeiro wearing an actual silicone mask and wig.

Officials recently released photos of da Silva and pretty much everyone is confused about how he thought this would work.

Da Silva wore a silicone mask, glasses, a long black wig, jeans and a pink T-shirt decorated with a print of donuts to make his escape.

In a video released by Rio de Janeiro’s state secretary of prison administration, da Silva can be seen slowly taking off his disguise before saying his real name. According to authorities, his elaborate escape attempt was foiled after prison guards picked up on his nervous behavior.

According to Buzzfeed, da Silva, 42, is currently serving a 73-year sentence for drug trafficking. The gang leader worked for the Red Command, one of Brazil’s most powerful drug trafficking criminal groups. Officials say that since his thwarted prison break, da Silva has been transferred to a unit of a maximum-security prison where he is due to face disciplinary sanctions.

It’s not the first time da Silva has made an attempt with his daughter’s help.

Back in 2013, Brazilian news site Globo reported that he had successfully escaped prison. At the time, da Silva operated on a plan that allowed him to stroll out of the prison’s main door as his daughter remained in his cell.

Looks like a 73-year jail sentence can really inspire a person to get creative.

Also pretty sure that mask would have any daughter insulted.

The reaction on Twitter, of course, has been downright gold.

Perhaps a better budget would have seen da Silva far away and free from the gates of prison.

As of now, nearly everyone who has read this story has their fingers crossed that this story will inspire a movie.

Basically, everyone’s rallying for this to be the inspiration for the White Chicks 2 film.

Like so many references to White Chicks.

And all of this time we thought no one could have done a mask worse.

As far as the court of popular opinion goes, da Silva’s verdict is:

Scooby-Doo did it better.