Things That Matter

Here’s The Latest On Hurricane Harvey And How Texas Are Dealing With The Damage

As flooding continues in Southeast Texas, four days since Hurricane Harvey made landfall, we are now seeing the devastation that it has left in its path. And the rain is supposed to continue until tomorrow. The Weather Channel reports that Harvey’s center is currently in the Gulf of Mexico, which means the hurricane is expected to hit the Louisiana coast tomorrow.

Initial reports of fatalities are currently at 14, including a family of six that died while trying to evacuate. The New York Daily News reports that Manuel Saldivar, 84, his wife Belia, 81; Daisy Saldivar, 6; Xavier Saldivar, 8; Dominic Saldivar, 14; Devy Saldivar, 16, were in a van attempting to leave Houston. The van was overcome with flood waters as it tried to cross the bridge

As rising waters continue to overtake various parts of Houston, officials in Brazoria County tweeted that residents had to leave the area quickly because the levee had been breached. NBC also reports that two Houston reservoirs have overflowed.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrived in Houston and are surveying the damage. But the First Lady is getting clowned for wearing heels and a “FLOTUS” hat on her trip.

The Mexican government has attempted to offer aid to victims of Hurricane Harvey, but Trump has yet to approve any of it.

The hashtag #HoustonStrong is showing us some truly emotional photos of people helping others in need, and is also capturing what exactly is happening in Texas.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner also confirmed the death of 60-year-old police officer Steve Perez, who was trying to get to work and help. Police chief Art Acevedo was clearly shaken during a press conference:

This is just one visual of how much waters have risen in Houston.

Yesterday, the Mayor tweeted that undocumented people should not fear seeking help.

“If you are in a stressful situation, I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what your religion is, I don’t care what your language is, you come and take advantage of every service that we have,” Turner said, according to The Hill. “If you’re in a stressful situation and you need help, you call us for help. We want you to call. There is absolutely no reason why anyone should not call okay?”

While a lot of the news has been dire, there have been some incredible people that have done whatever they can in order to help. The Houston Police gave a shout out to Taqueria Del Sol, which served food to patrol officers.

In other parts of Houston, the Gonzales family used their boat to help several people evacuate.

These panaderos were holed up in a bakery, so they made bread and gave it to those in need.

Gloria Maria Quintanilla didn’t let flooding stop her from getting to her job.

I worked at the hotel up there,” she said to a New York Times reporter, adding that she only makes $10 an hour. “It was my day to work, and I’m a very responsible person,” Quintanilla said, speaking in Spanish. “I had no idea it was going to be like this.”

READ: After Criticism, Border Patrol Announces It Will Close Immigration Checkpoints In Path Of Hurricane Harvey

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A Man In El Paso Has Been Charged With The Murder Of His Date After She Went Missing

Things That Matter

A Man In El Paso Has Been Charged With The Murder Of His Date After She Went Missing

El Paso Police Department

The family of a woman who had been declared missing since July has finally found tragic answers after El Paso police charged Ricardo Marquez, 28, with her murder. Erika Andrea Gaytan, 29, was reported missing by her family on July 16, who felt it was out-of-character for Gaytan to disappear and leave her 7-year-old son behind. Gaytan reportedly was last heard from after going to a concert at the El Paso County Coliseum on July 13 with Ricardo Marquez. Gaytan recorded the concert, featuring Los Rieleros del Norte, Polo Urias and La Maquinaria Norteña, from her social media last night, marking the last time anyone heard from her. Detectives say that the day after Gaytan’s disappearance, Marquez borrowed his brother’s car and his sister’s shovel. Gaytan’s blood was found in Marquez’s Jeep. In a statement released Wednesday, Sgt. Enrique Carrillo said that Gaytan’s “body has not been found, but based on forensic and other evidence gathered over the course of the investigation detectives have reason to believe that she is deceased and was the victim of a murder.”

Police believe Marquez used zip-ties to restrain Gaytan in his home, where he murdered her.

CREDIT: EL PASO POLICE DEPARTMENT / FACEBOOK

Marquez was brought in for questioning following Gaytan’s disappearance, where he told detectives that she came home with him, but used a ride-hailing app to leave after they got into a verbal argument. Detectives found no evidence that Gaytan used her ride-hailing apps, discrediting Marquez’s statement. According to a court affidavit, Marquez continued to give conflicting statements about his experience with Gaytan, and his whereabouts the following day, when speaking with law enforcement and family and friends alike. 

Marquez allegedly spent the next day covering up his crime.

CREDIT: @JALAKFOX_CBS / TWITTER

Investigators then looked into Marquez’s phone records, which showed that he had texted his brother and sister the next morning. He asked his brother if he could borrow his all-wheel-drive Jeep Wrangler, and picked up a shovel from his sister. Surveillance video evidence creates a timeline for Marquez’s alleged cover-up. He borrowed a shovel from his sister around 11:25 a.m. the following morning, and then went to his brother’s house to pick up the Jeep. He spent about an hour with his brother before being spotted on the 13900 block of Montana in east El Paso, driving toward the Redlands desert area. An hour later, the Jeep was spotted again, driving back to his brother’s house around 1:39 p.m., according to the affidavit that was issued for his arrest. With a search warrant in hand, a Department of Public Safety DNA lab-tested Marquez’s brother’s Jeep trunk floor mat, which came back positive for traces of Gaytan’s blood. Police believe Marquez transported Gaytan’s body in the trunk of his brother’s car, and buried her in an unknown area in the desert.

Court documents cite that a search of Marquez’s home produced the shovel he borrowed from his sister, a pair of shoes filled with sand, and zip-ties “tied in a manner to be used as restraints.” Detectives have concluded that “Ricardo Marquez murdered the victim in his residence, used the Jeep to transport the body of the victim to an unknown location only accessible by off-road vehicles, and that he used the shovel to bury the body.”

The El Paso community is shocked to hear of Gaytan’s murder.

CREDIT: EL PASO POLICE DEPARTMENT / FACEBOOK

“Too many tragedies as of late,” commented Melissa Arredondo on the El Paso Police Department’s Facebook announcement of the arrest. “Dang… And the report says he buried her near Redlands. That place is so cursed. My friend’s dad just died there. It will never be the same,” commented another member of the community. Others remain hopeful in demanding that the police find Gaytan’s body before assuming her death. “Too many questions remain,” commented another concerned El Paso citizen.

Gaytan was facing a court hearing for criminal mischief when she disappeared, but her family couldn’t believe that she would leave her son behind without warning. Gaytan once appeared on El Paso’s Most Wanted List in 2017 before she was charged 66 charges of credit abuse in a criminal mischief case.

Police say the investigation is ongoing and detectives are relying on the public for more information. If you have information on the case or Ricardo Marquez, call (915) 212-4040 or Crime Stoppers of El Paso at (915) 566-8477.

READ: California Man Arrested With Drugs And Guns While Keeping A Person Hostage And Suspected Of Murder

An Author Is Opening The Discussion On The Violent History In The U.S. Against Mexicans In Texas

Things That Matter

An Author Is Opening The Discussion On The Violent History In The U.S. Against Mexicans In Texas

@MonicaMnzMtz / Twitter

The history of Latinos in the U.S. dates back to before it was called the United States. Latinos have always inhabited many parts of what is now the United States of America. However, the recorded history of what happened to them while on this land is one that has often gone disputed and untold. However, in time, it is through oral history and fragments of documents and photographs that scholars have been able to complete the puzzle. Today’s experience of Latinos living in the current administration is just another addition to the story. 

Monica Muñoz Martinez, an assistant professor of American studies at Brown University, released a book last year titled “The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas,” and discussed the many ways the history of Latinos in the U.S. is complex and vital to remember. 

Credit: @nbcnews / Twitter

Martinez talked about her book in a recent interview on the public radio station WBUR. The program, which featured Muñoz Martinez, began by mentioning the increase in hate crimes against Latinos and how these crimes aren’t anything new, but something this community has been experiencing for a very long time. 

“One hundred years ago, anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican rhetoric fueled an era of racial violence by law enforcement and by vigilantes. But it’s also important to remember that this kind of sentiment, this rhetoric, also shapes policy,” Muñoz Martinez said on WBUR. “So 100 years ago, it shaped anti-immigrant policy like the 1924 Immigration Act. It also shaped policies like Jim Crow-style laws to segregate communities … and targeting Mexican Americans especially. There [were] efforts to keep American citizens, Mexican Americans, from voting. But there were also forced sterilization laws that were introduced, and U.S. Border Patrol was established in 1924. Our policing practices, our institutions today have deep roots in this period of racial violence.” 

Muñoz Martinez, who received a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University, also spoke about the Porvenir massacre — an attack against Mexican-Americans that isn’t widely known but was recently made into a film

Credit: @MonicaMnzMtz / Twitter

She called the attack of innocent people a “case of state-sanctioned violence that is really profound and reminding us [not only] of the kinds of injustices that people experienced, but also the injustices that continue to remain in communities and were carried by descendants who fought the injustice and have been working for generations to remember this history.”

Muñoz Martinez notes that it’s important to continue to talk openly about the atrocities against Latinos in the U.S. in order to understand the big picture of racism in the country, but also to realize how these experiences shape the community as well. 

Credit: @MonicaMnzMtz / Twitter

“Well, it’s difficult to teach these histories on their own. But it’s also deeply disturbing because students make connections.” Muñoz Martinez said on the radio show. “It prompts conversations about police violence today, police shootings on the border by Border Patrol agents. One of the cases that I write about in my book is the shooting of Concepcion García, who was a 9-year-old girl who was studying in Texas and became ill and crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico with her mother and her aunt to recover her. She was shot by a U.S. border agent.

“So when we teach these histories, it’s important to know that these kinds of injustices have lasting consequences, not only in shaping our institutions but shaping cultures and societies,” she added. “When we think about the impact of some of the cases from 100 years ago continuing to weigh heavy on people a century later, it’s a warning to us that we must heed. And we will have to work actively as a public. If we don’t call for public accountability, these patterns of violence are going to continue, and we will be working for a long time to remedy the kinds of violence that we’re seeing.”

For more information about Muñoz Martinez’s work, you don’t need to be a student at Brown University. All you need is a library card. 

Credit: @MonicaMnzMtz / Twitter

Her book “The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas” is available everywhere. You can buy it as well. You can also click here to listen to her entire interview on WBUR or follow her work at Refusing to Forget on Twitter, and her personal social media account as well

READ: A New Documentary Exposes The Massacre In Porvenir, Texas That Left 15 Mexican-Americans Dead