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Five Tribal Leaders Have Been Assassinated Across Colombia And The Government Blames FARC Rebels

President Iván Duque traveled to Colombia’s southwest in the wake of what he called the “assassination” of five indigenous leaders. According to the Associated Press, leaders of the Tacueyo reservation were killed this week when they were ambushed by gunmen that belong to a faction of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (also known as FARC). 

The leaders’ armored SUV was attacked by a small group of defectors with hand grenades and guns who do not support the now-defunct FARC’s peace treaty with the government. The gunmen continued to shoot even as ambulances arrived to help the wounded. Duque condemned the act of violence that injured six and killed five, including Cristina Bautista, the spiritual leader of the semi-autonomous reservation and the top authority. 

The Nasa indigenous guard try to thwart the assassination.

The Nasa indigenous group resides in the Cauca province of southwest Colombia. When the Nasa indigenous guard attempted to stop a car for a routine check, a group of dissidents including a leader demanded to pass through. After a standoff, the guard alarmed other locals to gather. The rebels opened fire and used hand grenades to attack the indigenous leaders. 

The Nasa are semi-autonomous and administer, patrol, and govern their own region. The guard consists of volunteers and does not consider themselves a police force, according to BBC. They are unarmed mediators who carry wooden staffs. 

Indigenous leaders believe Duque’s visit is too little, too late.

Since Colombia’s 2016 peace accord, dozens of indigenous and social leaders have been assassinated. Militant dissidents have used violent methods to take control over former rebel territories and drug routes. 

In the Cauca state, one of the country’s most lucrative and fast-growing regions for cocaine production, 14 tribal members have been killed. 

“Our only weapon is our unity and spirituality,” Luis Acosta, national coordinator of the indigenous guards, told Associated Press. “[The dissidents] don’t allow us to control our territories because we reject the logic of war.”

Colombian indigenous communities have consistently decried the government’s complacency in what they say is a “genocide” where they have become collateral damage in ongoing conflicts between leftist rebels, state security forces, and right-wing paramilitaries. 

Colombia’s government launches a military offensive to detain the dissidents.

The government launched an initial investigation that suggested the act was in retaliation to the capture of three Farc defectors by indigenous locals. 

“Clearly, here we have a longstanding threat of drug trafficking groups, and of dissidents, who want to intimidate the population,” Duque told reporters, according to The Guardian.  “I hope to make some important announcements about operational capacity in the region and the capacity we will have to face these threats.” 

However, many felt Duque was just paying lip service. 

“The region where this massacre took place is a first-tier zone for violence, and the defense sector surely knows this but the response to repeated calls for help from indigenous communities has been far from adequate,” Adam Isacson, a security analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America, told reporters.

Opposition politicians accuse the government of genocide.

“What is underway in Colombia is an indigenous genocide, and it will not stop if international justice does not appear,” Senator Gustavo Petro tweeted. 

While the 2016 peace accord was meant to end a civil war that displaced 7 million Colombians and killed 260,000, violence has become the status quo for the Cauca province. A residual power vacuum leftover by Farc appears to have causedconflicts over territory, drug routes, land rights, and resources where indigenous people are often targets.

 Just last month, Karina García a mayoral candidate and three others on the campaign were murdered. Since 2016, according to Colombia’s human rights ombudsman, 486 activists and human rights defenders have been murdered. 

“The government says the right things, but doesn’t do anything,” said Eduin Marcelo Capaz, an indigenous human rights coordinator said. “Duque will say whatever he has to to cover up his government’s ineffectiveness and disinterest in protecting us.”

United Nations and the Organization of American States urge Colombia’s government to end violence against indigenous groups.  

Last April, the UN and OAS urged Duque to avoid violence in the Cauca province as tensions escalated between indigenous folk and dissidents. 

“Dialogue is fundamental to attend to social demands and is the only solution that contains violence, alongside a focus on human rights, the strengthening of democracies and the rule of law,” the office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights urged. 

Only time will tell if Colombia’s promise to protect its indigenous folk is real because so far it hasn’t been. 

“People are being left unprotected by their government in an area that is being disputed among several armed and criminal groups,” Isacson said. “Colombia must prioritize protecting these communities, working with their leaderships, to prevent another horrible tragedy.”

Man Allegedly Posted Naked Photo Of Teen He Murdered On Snapchat

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Man Allegedly Posted Naked Photo Of Teen He Murdered On Snapchat

A 21-year-old New Jersey man allegedly choked a 19-year-old to death during sex, took a photo of her naked body and shared it on Snapchat, according to authorities. A probable cause affidavit filed by police said that Michael T. Gaffney told officers he knew the victim, Francis Victoria Garcia through mutual friends. 

After strangling her during sex in his car, Gaffney took a photo before alerting their friends she was unconscious. A friend arrived to see Garcia’s lips were purple, although she was still breathing through her nose. After seeking help Garcia was declared dead at Hackensack University Medical Center. 

Gaffney is charged with reckless manslaughter.

According to the affidavit, Gaffney and Garcia began talking on social media a week before they met up with friends. 

“Gaffney and Garcia made plans to hang out with those friends as a group on the evening of [Nov.1],” the affidavit states. “At some point during the evening, Gaffney and Garcia went to her car to hang out. There, the two engaged in sexual intercourse for approximately 20 minutes. At some point, Gaffney placed his hands around Garcia’s neck. She subsequently lost consciousness.”

After Garcia lost consciousness, Gaffney took a photo of her body. He posted the image on Snap Chat with the caption, “Just f***ed this b***h. I don’t know what to do.”

When he finished using social media, he called his friends who were hanging out at a nearby apartment to tell them she stopped breathing. The friend who arrived said he “could feel air coming out of her nose,” but her lips were purple. 

A coroner found Garcia may have died of asphyxiation. 

Although a medical examiner found Garcia had a blood-alcohol level of .256, it is believed it was asphyxiation that killed her. The Bergen County Medical Examiner’s Office found “compression injuries” on her neck, likely ruling out a drug overdose as the cause, according to the Daily Voice. However, a full autopsy has not yet been completed. 

“I do find it curious that when a woman’s body goes lifeless or still, he takes a naked picture and posts it to 30 people,” Superior Court Judge Margaret Foti said, refusing to release Gaffney on bond because of the callous nature of his actions. 

However, Gaffney maintains that what happened was essentially an accident. 

“The 5-foot-8-inch, 180-pound Gaffney, who has a history of alcohol and drug use, told detectives that they’d taken prescription medication and were having rough sex in her car when she lost consciousness, a law enforcement source said,” according to the Daily Voice.

Gaffney’s attorney, Adam Lustberg told People, we should reserve our judgment until the trial runs its course. 

“I just ask everyone to withhold judgment until all of the facts and evidence come in to allow us to try this case in the court of law instead of the court of public opinion,” Lustberg said. 

The lawyer also remained skeptical until a full autopsy is completed dismissing the asphyxiation presumption as mere paperwork, “there is a death certificate abstract which just lists the cause of death,” he said.

Garcia’s family speaks out about her death in GoFundMe. 

The relatives of Garcia have raised $1,400 of their $10,000 goal on GoFundMe to raise funds for her funeral arrangements. 

“On Saturday November 2nd, 2019 my mother received the news that every parent fears. My 19-year-old sister had been found dead inside her vehicle while she was attending a party. My sister’s life was suddenly shortened by a coward leaving us with a deep sorrow,” Luis Banegas, her brother said on the GoFundMe page. “Her death is still under investigation and the person responsible for her death has been arrested. We ask that you please help our family gather enough funds to give my sister Francis Veronica Garcia a proper burial.” 

Gaffney’s family attempted to start their own GoFundMe to raise funds for his legal fees, however shortly after, the account was shut down by the company. 

“I can confirm that we removed the campaign and all donors have been fully refunded because it violated our terms and conditions. It’s also important to know that the platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means funds are guaranteed to go to the right place or donors will get a refund,” a spokesperson for GoFundMe told TooFab

Within a few days, despite not making their goal, Banegas announced they were able to give Garcia a proper burial due to support from others. 

“We were able to give my sister a funeral that she would’ve loved. My mother was joyful to see all the people that came to support her and came to pay their goodbyes. Again, thank you for all the donations. I will be stopping the fundraiser now because with all your help and the help from family and friends we’ve achieved our goal,” he wrote. 

Eight New Witnesses Implicate Stites’ Fiancé, A Former Cop, Pointing To Rodney Reed’s Innocence

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Eight New Witnesses Implicate Stites’ Fiancé, A Former Cop, Pointing To Rodney Reed’s Innocence

FreeRodneyReed.com

Rodney Reed is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Nov. 20, but eight new witnesses have come forward to corroborate Reed’s claims that the victim was in an abusive relationship with convicted felon and former cop Jimmy Fennell. Nineteen-year-old Stacey Stites was murdered in April 1996 in Bastrop, Texas. A year later, a 29-year-old black man named Rodney Reed was arrested and charged with capital murder. The prosecution argued that the presence of Reed’s semen in Stites’ body was evidence of her brutal sexual assault and murder. The all-white jury sentenced Reed to die by lethal injection, currently scheduled for Nov. 20, 2019.

Now, eight witnesses have come forward to testify to Stites’ fear of fiancé, Jimmy Fennell, who was the initial person of interest in the crime. The witnesses believe that when Fennell learned that Stites was having a consensual affair with Reed, Fennell strangled her to death.

Rodney Reed is being represented by the Innocence Project.

Rodney Reed has always claimed his innocence, and that he and Stites were in a consensual relationship. Now, witnesses have come forward to prove it.

Credit: FreeRodneyReed.com

At the time of Reed’s trial, nobody would testify to their consensual relationship. Now, two witnesses have come forward to recall Stites’ own account of her relationships with Reed and with her abusive fiancé, Fennell. One of those witnesses is Rebecca Peoples, who worked with Stites at an H-E-B grocery store. As any friendly co-workers do, Stites and Peoples confided in each other. Stites told Peoples that “she was having a relationship with a black man,” and that “she was afraid of her fiancé,” according to the most recent Writ of Habeas Corpus. Peoples never shared her testimony because she “did not realize that it was important and no one ever approached [her].”  

In addition, Stites’ own family and friends, Alicia Slater, Lee Roy Ybarra and Calvin “Buddy” Horton, have come forward to attest to the knowledge of a relationship between Stites and Reed.

The prosecution portrayed Stites’ engagement as “happy,” but new sworn testimony reveals that Fennell was abusive to Stites.

Credit: @S_PaceXM / Twitter

Former Bastrop County Sherriff’s Office Deputy, Richard Derleth, has come forward to recall what other H.E.B. employees shared with him at the time of Stites death. “Members of the [H.E.B.] staff would keep a lookout for Jimmy Fennell to see if he would come into the store,” Derleth said during sworn testimony. “They told
me that if they saw Jimmy coming into the store, they would tell Stacey
and she would run and hide from Jimmy” for fear “he would start a fight with her.” Derleth shared the information with “some members of the
Sheriff’s Office” but is “not sure what was done with the information.”

William Sappington lived below Fennel and Stites’ apartment. His son, Brent, has testified that he overheard “screaming and banging” upstairs. Brent’s wife, Vicki, recalled that her father-in-law “expressed concern that Mr. Fennell was verbally abusive toward Ms. Stites, that he feared Mr. Fennell was also
physically abusive, and that he had reported his concerns to local
law enforcement, but officers dismissed his concerns.”

Jimmy Fennell served a 10-year sentence after kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman while on duty as a police officer.

Credit: @MutantLifeForce / Twitter

In 2008, Fennell pled guilty to kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman he had been dispatched to protect. He also pled guilty to attempting to cover it up by threatening to kill the woman if she told anyone. While he was imprisoned, he sought protection from Arthur Snow, a member of the “whites-only” Aryan Brotherhood at the prison. “Jimmy said he needed protection from the blacks and Mexicans at the
prison,” Snow said in sworn testimony. 

Fennell traded commissary for protection, and later, while in the rec yard, Snow recalls a troubling conversation. Fennell started talking about Stites “with a lot of
hatred and resentment. Jimmy said his fiancé had been sleeping around
with a black man behind his back. By the way Jimmy spoke about this
experience, I could tell that it deeply angered him. Toward the end of the
conversation, Jimmy said confidently, “I had to kill my n****-loving
fiancé.”

Nearly 3 million Americans have signed a petition calling on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to delay Reed’s execution.

Credit: FreeRodneyReed.com

Reed has maintained his innocence since day one. The murder weapon, a belt used for strangulation, has never been tested for DNA, despite multiple requests by Reed’s attorneys, all of which have been denied. Reed has been imprisoned for 21 years.