Things That Matter

Police Fatally Shot Rueben Galindo and Now The Mother Of His Children Is Demanding Answers

Azucena Zamorano attended a community meeting last night in Charlotte, North Carolina, hosted by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, hoping to get answers about why the father of her five children, 29-year-old Rueben Galindo was shot and killed by police last month. Zamorano sat in front of Police Chief Kerr Putney and asked him straight out: “I don’t understand why he was shot.” All he said in response was “Yes, ma’am, I understand” and “I am sorry for your loss.”

CREDIT: Héctor Vaca

The tragic shooting, which is currently under investigation, took place on Sept. 6, and the events that unfolded prior to the fatal shooting are very confusing. According to several news outlets, Zamorano says that Galindo (her common-law partner) called 911 to tell them he was surrendering his gun. Jaqueline Guerra, a friend of the family, told the Charlotte Observer that Galindo wanted to give the police his gun because he had an upcoming court appearance and didn’t want to be deported because of it. According to Zamorano’s attorney Brian Hochman, Galindo had been in the United States 14 or 15 years.

In the 911 call, Galindo tells the 911 operator that he needs to speak with someone who speaks Spanish. It takes about a minute for the transfer to take place, and even then the call gets even more confusing because Galindo is on the phone with the operator and the translator.

In the initial 911 call, which lasted 14-minutes and has been released, Galindo sounds a bit disoriented but even more confused because of the three-way conversation between himself, the operator and the translator. He tells them he needs help but isn’t specific about what kind of help he needs. He keeps saying, “Will the police help me or not?” He also tells them that his gun does not have bullets and requests the presence of Officer Hernandez on the scene. There are also a couple of instances in which the things Galindo says are not relayed to the operator in detail.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has released the 911 calls along with the body-cam videos. WARNING: Below is footage of the fatal shot.

CMPDVidcast / YouTube

Héctor Vaca of Action NC, an organization that helps the low-income community in Charlotte, tells mitú that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released the footage in a calculated way so people would conclude that Galindo was brandishing a gun.

Acompáñenos en una reunion con Chief Kerr Putney y policias de CMPD. El 10/12/17 a las 6:30 PM para una conversacion…

Posted by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department on Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Vaca says they did this by releasing a screenshot first, in which they circled the gun. Then they linked out to the video.

The actual video shows Galindo with both hands raised.

CREDIT: YouTube/CMPDvidcast

Galindo appears outside for less than 10 seconds before he is shot. The video clearly has the police yelling “manos, manos” to Galindo, and he indeed shows his hands. When he raises them, the police shoot.

According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, “Officers gave multiple commands to Mr. Galindo to drop the weapon. Mr. Galindo refused to drop the gun and the officers perceived an imminent deadly threat. The officers subsequently fired their weapons striking Mr. Galindo and immediately requested Medic.”

The only verbal command that can be heard on the video is “manos.”

Is this is a case of words being lost in translation? Attorney Brian Hochman, Zamorano’s representative, tells mitú that whatever was going on with Galindo before the police arrived on the scene is a distraction because what matters is what you see in the video.

“There’s no question that the command they gave him is ‘manos,'” Hochman says. “The next command they give is ‘drop the gun’ in English.”

Hochman wonders if Galindo understood the word “drop” because he says that’s not a word you use every day. Hochman says Galindo specifically requested a Spanish speaking officer during the 911 call, and at the “most critical moment is when they spoke to him in English.”

“When you focus on the actual videotape, there’s nothing that any reasonable person [watching the video] can say that can be construed as threatening,” Hochman says. “He is standing there with the hands in the air.”

Alma Hernandez of Action NC told the Charlotte Observer that the meeting did not answer their questions. According to Hernandez, police spent too much time “hotdogging” throughout the meeting and ended before everyone’s questions were answered.

READ: OKC Police Officer Fatally Shot Magdiel Sanchez Despite Witnesses Yelling That He Was Deaf

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Iranians Are Being Questioned And Detained By US Border Patrol In What Appears To Be Racial Profiling

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Iranians Are Being Questioned And Detained By US Border Patrol In What Appears To Be Racial Profiling

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Iranian-Americans were held by U.S. immigration agents at the Canadian border over the weekend, following escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Traveling Iranian Americans now fear being racially profiled by Customs and Border Protection as they re-enter the county. 

CBP says they have enhanced security at ports of entry, according to NPR. Homeland Security is also on high alert as Iran’s leaders vowed they would retaliate for the U.S. airstrike that killed the military leader Qassem Soleimani. The country kept its promise yesterday when it fired over a dozen ballistic missiles at American bases in Iraq. 

Today President Donald Trump announced an increase in sanctions on Iran, rather than using military force (right now), as a response. 

Iranian Americans pay the price for U.S. conflicts in the middle east.

Roughly 200 Iranian Americans were held for up to 12 hours at the Peace Arch Border Crossing last weekend. 

“I’ve heard from people who are saying they’re going to cancel their vacations,” said Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council in Washington, D.C., told NPR. “They had planned to travel abroad or, you know, leave the country for spring break. And people are already saying we’re going to cancel those trips because we don’t know what we’re supposed to do.”

Travelers were detained and questioned, while some were denied re-entry into the U.S. The New York Times reported that a detained Iranian family told Masih Fouladi, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), that an agent told them: “This is a bad time to be an Iranian.” 

“Those detained reported that their passports were confiscated and they were questioned about their political views and allegiances. CBP officials contacted at the Blaine Port of Entry provided no comment or reasons for the detentions,” Fouladi said in a statement. “We are working to verify reports of a broad nationwide directive to detain Iranian-Americans at ports of entry so that we can provide community members with accurate travel guidance.” 

CBP denies that Iranian Americans were held and questioned at all. 

“Social media posts that CBP is detaining Iranian Americans and refusing their entry into the U.S. because of their country of origin are false,” said Matt Leas, a spokesperson for CBP. 

CBP instead claims that security has increased at ports of entry overall and that processing times at some ports had increased due to the holiday seasons. According to the New York Times, border officers are not allowed to refer someone to a secondary screening based on their national origin alone, but it is one of many factors. In fact, agents may place extra emphasis on the country of origin if it is one that can pose an alleged national security threat. 

“If you were an Iranian citizen returning from the British Columbia, you would be sent to secondary as a result of the increased tension with that country,” Girl Kerlikowske, former commissioner of CBP, told the paper. “It wouldn’t be the main factor in many cases, but certainly in this particular instance the country of origin would be the determining factor.”

While CBP denied any wrongdoing, immigrants’ rights advocates and attorneys begged to differ. Representative Pramila Jayapal and Representative Adam Smith expressed their concerns about the matter. 

“Let me be clear: Instituting xenophobic, shameful and unconstitutional policies that discriminate against innocent people, trample over basic civil rights, and put fear in the hearts of millions do not make us safer,” Jayapal said in a statement.

Many feel the treatment of Iranians is mimicking the circumstances that eventually led to Japanese internment during World War II. 

The kind of racial targeting evokes the same sense of American racial paranoia that resulted in Japanese internment and rampant Islamophobia following the September 11, 2001 attack of the world trade center. 

“It doesn’t make any sense, because these are individuals who are U.S. citizens and don’t have any individualized suspicion associated with them, other than the fact that they’re Iranian or of Iranian heritage,” Matt Adams, legal director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project’s Seattle office, told Politico. “What’s clear is that they are being targeted for the secondary inspection because of their Iranian background, and there must be some kind of directive” to CBP officers to pull them over, he added.

Attorneys say detained Iranians were questioned about where they traveled in recent years, their work and education history, and were asked if they had family in the Iranian military. Iranian American historian John Ghazvinian was one of the 200 who was taken in for secondary questioning when he landed in JFK. 

“Well, just landed at JFK and — no surprise — got taken to the special side room and got asked (among other things) how I feel about the situation with Iran,” Ghazvinian wrote in a tweet. “I wanted to be like: my book comes out in September, preorder now on amazon.”

Trump Administration Plans To Send Some Mexican Asylum-Seekers To Guatemala And Mexico Is Fighting Back

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Trump Administration Plans To Send Some Mexican Asylum-Seekers To Guatemala And Mexico Is Fighting Back

Joe Raedle / Getty

The Trump Administration continues to ramp up its attack on asylum seekers – and Mexican asylum-seekers in particular. The Department of Homeland Security announced that ‘effective immediately’, Mexicans could be subject to a safe third country agreement that could see them deported even further away to Guatemala.

The policy in effect blocks Mexicans — and any asylum seeker arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border who is not Guatemalan — from seeking protection in the United States, sending them more than 1,000 miles south instead.

The United States has yet to expel any Mexican asylum seekers to Guatemala, but the new U.S. policy could soon affect about 900 Mexican asylum seekers, the Mexican Foreign Secretariat said in a statement late Monday signaling its “disagreement.”

The Department of Homeland Security confirms that certain Mexicans seeking humanitarian protection can be transferred to the Central American nation.

The U.S. will begin sending Mexican asylum-seekers to Guatemala to wait out their cases instead of allowing them to remain in the U.S., according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed News.

“Certain Mexicans seeking humanitarian protections in the United States may now be eligible to be transferred to Guatemala and given the opportunity to seek protection there, under the terms of the Guatemala Asylum Cooperative Agreement,” a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement to NBC News.

Under the safe third country agreement between the US and Guatemala, technically the move is likely legal – though is it ethical?

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 28: Mexican immigrant Nieves Ojendiz holds her 4-year old daughter Jane as she attends an immigration reform rally with members and supporters of the New York Immigration Coalition, June 28, 2016 in New York City, New York. Last week the U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked in a 4-4 decision concerning President Barack ObamaÕs immigration plan, which would have protected millions of undocumented immigrants from being deported. Because the Supreme Court was split, a 2015 lower-court ruling invalidating ObamaÕs executive action will stand. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The agreement, which was brokered in July between the Trump administration and the outgoing Guatemalan government, allows U.S. immigration officials to send migrants requesting asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border to apply for protection in Guatemala, instead.

The administration made similar deals with Honduras and El Salvador last year.

The Trump administration had previously implemented a “remain in Mexico” policy for asylum-seekers from Central America, but international law forbidsasylum-seekers from being sent back to their home country due to concerns they may face prosecution. Mexicans account for more than half of the estimated 21,000 asylum seekers waiting along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Is Guatemala really a safer, more stable option for people seeking asylum from poverty and violence?

Critics of the agreements have said migrants could be further endangered if they are sent to violence-plagued Central American countries, while others with valid asylum claims could be keep out.

They have also said the countries do not have the capacity in their asylum systems to take on the migrants’ claims.

An anonymous asylum officials told Buzzfeed news: “Mexico is dangerous; Guatemala is even more so. This expansion of the [agreement] continues to prevent legitimate asylum-seekers from having their cases heard by the US and foists them upon the Guatemalan system, which has about a dozen staff. Asylum in the US is now practically available only for people wealthy and privileged enough to get visas, shutting out many of the most vulnerable groups asking for help at our borders.”

Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said Monday night it disagreed with the policy.

Mexico is voicing opposition to the Trump administration’s controversial plan to send Mexicans seeking asylum in the United States to Guatemala instead.

“It’s a decision that worries us and a decision that we cannot agree with,” the Mexican ambassador to the United States, Martha Barcena, said Tuesday. “This decision was not consulted with us. It is a decision they made with Guatemala.”

The new U.S. policy could soon affect about 900 Mexican asylum seekers, the Mexican Foreign Secretariat said in a statement late Monday signaling its “disagreement.”

Mexican authorities “will work to offer better options to the Mexicans who could be affected,” the statement said, without providing details.

There also appeared to be confusion over the policy in Guatemala. Alejandra Mena, a spokeswoman with the government’s immigration institute, said that while there have been “conversations on the issue” of Mexican asylum seekers, the “agreement involves the transfer of Hondurans and Salvadorans only.”