Things That Matter

These Families Need $5,000 To Witness Supreme Court Hearing Over The Deaths Of Their Children By Border Patrol

On Nov. 12, the Supreme Court will be hearing arguments for the case of a Border Patrol agent killing a teenager on Mexican soil. Sergio Adrián Hernández Güereca was doing what 15-year-old Mexican boys do. He was playing a game with friends on Mexican soil when he was shot in the head by border guard Jesus Mesa Jr from U.S. soil. This happened on June 7, 2010, and has no legal precedent, which is why it’s taken over nine years for a final decision to be determined. In less than a week, Hernández v. Mesa could decide how seriously U.S. officers treat non-citizens across the border, and if those non-citizens will be granted monetary redress for their loss.

The families bringing the case forward are using a GoFundMe to raise $5,500 to both make it to the hearing, but also participate in speaking engagements to raise awareness around border violence.

The presence of the parents will create significantly more media coverage for the victims of border violence.

Credit: Justice for Victims of US Border Patrol / GoFundMe

Over the past 15 years, more than 100 people have been killed by US Border Patrol as a direct result of their excessive use of force. Not one agent has ever been held accountable,” the GoFundMe states. “This systematic pattern of injustice guarantees impunity to US state agents for the criminalization and annihilation of people of color, indigenous, refugees and migrants, both inside and outside of the United States.”

The GoFundMe will allow for Guadalupe Güereca (Sergio Adrian’s mom) and Taide Zojo and Araceli Rodríguez (José Antonio’s grandmother and mother respectively) to be transported, housed, and fed in Washington D.C. for the oral arguments. The money will also help pay for the costs associated with their week-long speaking engagement tour on behalf of victims of border violence. Frankly, the budget set out seems conservative. On the GoFundMe, they list an expected $900 to pay for food for 4 people for 9 days. That’s $25 per person per day, a feat for anyone who has lived or visited the Washington area.

The GoFundMe has raised $3,775 in one week, but the case is being heard in just five days.

Credit: Justice for Victims of US Border Patrol / GoFundMe

It’s not just the Hernández Güereca family that is showing up to demand justice for their child. José Antonio Elena Rodríguez, 16, was shot sixteen times and killed in Nogales, Sonora, by U.S. Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz on Oct. 10, 2012. The agent shot the teenager from the U.S. side of the border in Nogales, Arizona. “Like Mesa, Swartz has not faced any accountability,” the GoFundme states. Swartz said he shot the 16-year-old sixteen times because he was throwing rocks at Border Patrol officers.

For the record, any non-citizen who is shot on the U.S. border can absolutely seek redress thanks to Bivens v. Six Unknown Unnamed Agents, which allows any person who has been injured by a U.S. law enforcement officer to sue for damages.

An anonymous donor offered to match every donation up to $2,000.

Credit: Justice for Victims of US Border Patrol / GoFundMe

On Nov. 5, the organizer shared the exciting news that every donation will be matched, thanks to an anonymous donor. “This is an incredible opportunity for people to double the impact of their contribution as we seek justice, accountability, and an end to US-led state violence against our communities,” they write.

With any funds over our $5,500 goal, we will do two things,” the campaign organizer shared, along with the good news. The “extra” money will help “provide financial support to Guadalupe, Araceli, and Taide, who have to miss work in order to travel. Whatever is left over will help “support their next trip to DC, so they can return to the Supreme Court when the verdict is announced in a few months. We need your help! If you have the resources, please donate!”

The families also want you to share the GoFundMe, and use the hashtags #USMurderPatrol #JusticeForSergioAdrian and #JusticeForJoseAntonio to raise awareness.

Credit: Justice for Victims of US Border Patrol / GoFundMe

Sergio Adrián would be 24 years old today. Jose Antonio would be 23 years old. “Peace and healing are not possible without justice,” the organizers write. “Justice is impossible without accountability which includes reparations for the victims, and guarantees of legal recourse for violence committed by U.S. agents and targeted at communities outside of U.S. borders. The victims of U.S.-led and sanctioned state violence are counting on you to end these egregious patterns of violence and the structures that uphold them,” the organizers emphasize.

READ: Their Son Was Killed On Mexican Soil By A Border Patrol Agent And They Want Justice

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One Year Later, The Latino Community Remembers The El Paso Shooting

Things That Matter

One Year Later, The Latino Community Remembers The El Paso Shooting

Mario Tama / Getty Images

On August 3, 2019, a man entered a Walmart in El Paso, Texas and killed 23 customers and injured 23 more. The shooter, Patrick Crusius, went to the Walmart with the expressed purpose of killing Mexican and Mexican-Americans. One year later, the community is remembering those lost.

One year ago today, a man killed 23 people in an El Paso Walmart targeting our community.

The Latino community was stunned when Patrick Crusius opened fire and killed 23 people in El Paso, Texas. The gunman wrote a manifesto and included his desire to kill as many Mexicans and Mexican-Americans he could in the El Paso Walmart. The days after were filled with grieving the loss of 23 people and trying to understand how this kind of hate could exist in our society.

Representative Veronica Escobar, who represents El Paso, is honoring the victims today.

Rep. Escobar was on the scene shortly after the shooting to be there for her community. The shooting was a reminder of the dangers of the anti-Latino and xenophobic rhetoric that the Trump administration was pushing for years.

“One year ago, our community and the nation were shocked and heartbroken by the horrific act of domestic terrorism fueled by racism and xenophobia that killed 23 beautiful souls, injured 22, and devasted all of us,” Rep. Escobar said in a statement. “Today will be painful for El Pasoans, especially for the survivors and the loved ones of those who were killed, but as we grieve and heal together apart, we must continue to face hate with love and confront xenophobia by treating the stranger with dignity and hospitality.”

El Pasoans are coming together today to remember the victims of the violence that day.

Latinos are a growing demographic that will soon eclipse the white communities in several states. Some experts in demographic shifts understand that this could be a terrifying sign for the white population. These changing demographics give life to racist and hateful ideologies.

“When you have a few people of color, the community is not seen so much as a threat,” Maria Cristina Morales, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at El Paso, told USA Today about the fear of changing demographics. “But the more that the population grows – the population of Latinos grow for instance – the more fear that there’s going to be a loss of power.”

The international attack is still felt today because of the constant examples of white supremacy still active today.

“It doesn’t occur to you that there’s a war going on, and there’s always been a war going on—the helicopters the barbed wire—but you just kind of didn’t see it,” David Dorado Romo, an El Paso historian who lost a friend in the shooting, told Time Magazine.

The sudden reminder of the hate out there towards the Latino community was felt nationwide that day. The violent attack that was planned out revealed the true cost of that hate that has been pushed by some politicians.

“El Paso families have the right to live free from fear, and I will continue to honor the victims and survivors with action,” Rep. Escobar said in her statement. “Fighting to end the gun violence and hate epidemics that plague our nation.”

READ: As El Paso Grieves Their Loss, Here Is Everything We Know About The Victims Of The El Paso Massacre, Which Were Mostly Latino

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The Supreme Court Issued A Landmark Decision Confirming That Almost Half Of Oklahoma Is Native American Land

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The Supreme Court Issued A Landmark Decision Confirming That Almost Half Of Oklahoma Is Native American Land

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / Getty Images

The 2020 Supreme Court season will be one for the record books, as the court handed down several major decisions that impacted the lives of millions of Americans.

From outlawing discrimination in the workplace against LGBTQ people to allowing religious employers to deny insurance coverage of contraceptives, it’s been a very consequential Supreme Court season. Now, the court has handed down one of the most important decisions affecting Native American tribes in generations.

The Supreme Court says that the eastern half of Oklahoma is Native American land.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a major ruling that declared a huge swath of Oklahoma as Native American land for certain legal purposes. The ruling affects about half the state and will have major consequences for both past and future criminal and civil cases.

The court’s decision hinged on the question of whether the Creek reservation continued to exist after Oklahoma became a state.

“Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of fed­eral criminal law. Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion.

The decision was 5-4, with Justices Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer in the majority, while Justices John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented

The decision means that only federal authorities, no longer state prosecutors, can lodge charges against Native Americans who commit serious alleged crimes on that land, which is home to 1.8 million people. Of those people, 15% or fewer are Native Americans.

Ruling that these lands are in fact reservations doesn’t mean the tribe owns all the land within the reservation, just like the county doesn’t own all the land within the county. In fact, it probably doesn’t own very much of that land, according to several legal experts.

The ruling will have significant legal implications for eastern Oklahoma.

Credit: Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images

There will be several implications based on the Supreme Court’s decision. First of all, certain major crimes committed within the boundaries of reservations must be prosecuted in federal courts rather than by state courts, if a Native American tribe member is involved.

For example, if a Native American is accused of a major crime in downtown Tulsa, the federal government rather than the state government will prosecute it. Less serious crimes involving Native Americans on American Indian land will be handled in tribal courts. This arrangement is already common in Western states like Arizona, New Mexico and Montana.

The ruling will also affect past decisions – many of which are now considered wrongful conditions because the state lacked jurisdiction. A number of criminal defendants who have been convicted in the past will now have grounds to challenge their convictions, arguing that the state never had jurisdiction to try them.

The decision is a major win for Native Americans, but so much more work needs to be done.

“The Supreme Court today kept the United States’ sacred promise to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of a protected reservation,” the tribe said in a statement. “Today’s decision will allow the Nation to honor our ancestors by maintaining our established sovereignty and territorial boundaries.”

The same day that the court issued its landmark Oklahoma decision, a federal judge also ordered that oil must stop flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline, which runs from North Dakota to Illinois. The deadline is August 5.

Of course, these are major legal victories. But taken together, they only highlight the ongoing legal issues and discrimination that Native American tribes face. To realize a complete vision of Indigenous sovereignty and environmental justice takes people power — the kind that energized the 2016 Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline but that in fact goes back much further.

In 2007, the International Indian Treaty Council, alongside other international Indigenous organizations, helped draft the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Although imperfect — declarations are, after all, aspirational and nonbinding — the declaration provides a universal mechanism for free, prior and informed consent with Indigenous nations over the decision-making process of development projects.

A major win for Native American tribes in the United States would hinge on Indigenous authority over lands that they control and landscapes that they have historic and cultural ties to.

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