Things That Matter

Police In Guadalajara Threatened To Make Protesters “Disappear” And Now Days Later 29 Protesters Are Still Missing

Communities around the world are rising up against unchecked police brutality and a system that operates with impunity. Mexico has long been a hotbed of corruption and unchecked police power, but much like in the United States, Mexicans are taking to the streets to voice their outrage.

The recent killing of an unarmed Mexican who was taken into custody after not wearing a face mask on public transport, has provoked unrest in cities across the country. And, also like in the U.S., the police reacted to protests with brutal force that left several injured – and now reports say that 29 protesters are missing or unaccounted for.

Protests in Guadalajara have left 29 protesters missing or unaccounted for – and many fear the worst.

Credit: Francisco Guasco / Getty

Across Mexico, people have taken to the streets to demand justice for Giovanni López – a man who died in police custody after being arrested for not wearing a face mask on public transit. The protests have taken place in cities across the country – also inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter protests taking place across the globe.

At the protests, police reacted with extreme force and left many protesters injured. Many have also come forward with stories of having been abducted by police forces on their way to the march and then being abandoned and robbed in the outskirts of the city.

Protests began popping up across Mexico in response to the killing of a man in police custody after he didn’t use a mask on public transit.

Credit: Francisco Guasco / Getty

Inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter protests in responde to the killing of George Floyd, protests over police abuses have flared up all around the world – including in Mexico.

In Guadalajara, which many call Mexico’s Second City, protests lasted for three days after video surfaced showing city police detaining Giovanni López in the town of Ixtlahuacán de Los Membrillos. Police had detained him for failure to wear a mask on public transit.

When López’s family went looking for him the day after his arrest, they were told he had been taken to a public hospital in Guadalajara. They found him dead there with a bullet wound in his foot and signs of trauma. An autopsy concluded he had died from traumatic brain injury, according to local media.

The news of missing protesters come as many protesters say that police actually threatened to make them disappear.

As protests raged across Guadalajara, some 80 protesters were seized by police officers and held without cause and under extreme measures. So far, 29 of those protesters are still missing.

Victims and human rights activists have described how the Guadalajara protesters were intercepted before they even reached the demonstration. Those were kidnapped said that police stole their money, ID documents and even their cellphones before leaving them in abandoned areas far outside the city. Some even alleged they were shot with stun guns or beaten with clubs.

According to reports, there are still 29 protesters unaccounted for, which has revived difficult memories of the 2014 forced disappearances of 43 students from Ayotzinapa college. Police officers allied to a local drug cartel abducted students as they made their way to a demonstration in Mexico City. The remains of two of the students were later found, but six years on, the fate of the other 41 remains unknown.

For his part, Jalisco’s governor has apologized to protesters for how police responded to the protests.

Although he did try to blame the violence on out-of-state instigators, the state’s governor – Enrique Alfaro – said he was appalled that police had beaten protesters.

“It embarrasses me, it distresses me, it greatly pains me as a man from Jalisco, and as governor,” Alfaro said in a video posted on Twitter.

However, some believe that the federal authorities involved in the protests would not have acted that way without a green-light from the state’s governor.

New Arrest Warrants Have Been Issued In The Case Of Mexico’s Missing 43 And Families Hope For Justice

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New Arrest Warrants Have Been Issued In The Case Of Mexico’s Missing 43 And Families Hope For Justice

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For six years, Mexico has been desperately trying to uncover the truth behind Mexico’s Missing 43. After a botched initial government response, a corrupt follow-up investigation and years of agony, the current administration has committed itself to laying out the truth for the victim’s families.

Thanks to a new investigation, the Attorney General has announced several new arrest warrants for suspects related to the case and announced that they have one key suspect already in custody.

Now, families of the missing students have a glimmer of hope as authorities say that justice for their missing loved ones is closer than ever before.

Mexico’s Attorney General has requested 46 arrest warrants related to the 43 missing students.

Mexico’s Attorney General, Alejandro Gertz Manero, issued a statement saying that his team of prosecutors have requested 46 warrants for the arrest of municipal officials in Guerrero state, in connection with the disappearance and presumed murder of 43 teaching students in September 2014.

Gertz said in a video message that the officials are sought for the crimes of forced disappearance and organized crime in relation to the kidnapping of the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College students.

In his statement, he also singled out the previous presidential administration for dropping the ball on the investigation.

“It’s necessary to make it very clear that these crimes weren’t even investigated” let alone prosecuted by the former government’s prosecutors, he said.

Mexico’s Missing 43 disappeared after attending a protest in the nearby town of Iguala. As they were travelling back from Iguala to Ayotzinapa, they were confronted by municipal police who opened fire on the buses they were travelling in. An official government report published during the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto said the students had been seized by the municipal police officers who handed them over to the Guerreros Unidos drugs gang.

The new arrest warrants come after the government also announced warrants for officials from the previous presidential administration related to the case.

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The attorney general said the 46 new arrest warrants sought are in addition to warrants obtained in March against former Attorney General’s Office officials, including the ex-head of the Criminal Investigation Agency, Tomás Zerón, who has reportedly fled Mexico.

Gertz said that an Interpol red notice had been issued against Zerón, who is wanted on charges of torturing people detained in connection with the students’ disappearance, forced disappearance, evidence tampering and altering a crime scene.

The attorney general said the location of Zerón is known but didn’t disclose it. It is believed he might be in Canada but authorities are also searching for him in the United States, Guatemala, Belize and Europe.

Prosecutors also announced that they had a prime suspect in custody.

In addition to the new arrest warrants, authorities also announced that they had a prime suspect already in custody. Police arrested Ángel Casarrubias, who has extensive connections with the Guerreros Unidos cartel – his brother is its leader.

Casarrubia’s brother was detained shortly after the students went missing and allegedly confessed to the crimes, saying that his cartel had killed the students and burned their bodies.

However, he later said his confession had been extracted under torture and filed an official complaint. A judge dismissed the charges brought against him over the disappearance of the missing students arguing that his confession had been extracted under duress. But he remains in prison on separate charges of links to organised crime.

Ángel Casarrubias had eluded police until last week. He was finally captured on Wednesday in Mexico state but his detention was only made public on Monday.

Families are cautiously optimistic that there could soon one day be justice for their missing loved ones.

Credit: Brett Gundlock / Getty Images

For more than six years, families of the missing students have mourned the uncertain loss of their loved ones. Their story has been the subject of countless documentaries and art projects, including one by famed Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei.

Although these are major developments in the case, Felipe de la Cruz, a spokesman for the parents of the missing students, said he and the other parents would “wait and see” if Ángel Casarrubias could contribute fresh information about what happened to their children.

He added that what the parents would like to see is the arrest of Tomás Zerón, the former head of investigations for the Prosecutor-General’s office who led the probe into the students’ disappearance.

There’s Still More To Do But Black Lives Matter Protests Have Resulted In These Major Police Reforms

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There’s Still More To Do But Black Lives Matter Protests Have Resulted In These Major Police Reforms

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, the country has struggled with how to best respond to police brutality and racial inequality. Millions of Americans (and millions more around the world) have poured into the streets demanding justice and police accountability.

Although more Black Americans have been killed by police since the death of George Floyd – and long before him – police reform is finally starting to take shape. Several communities across the United States are discussing ways to defund and restructure their police forces and their entire approach to supporting and protecting communities.

Although several victories have already been won, there is still so much work to do to ensure that #BlackLivesMatter.

Minneapolis will defund and dismantle their police force.

The Minneapolis City Council on Friday unanimously approved a proposal to change the city charter to allow the Police Department to be dismantled – this is the first step in removing the police force.

The 12-0 vote is just the first step in a process that still faces significant obstacles to make the November ballot, where the city’s voters would have the final say. Activists have long accused the department of being unable to change a racist and brutal culture, and earlier this month, a majority of the council proclaimed support for dismantling the department.

Draft language of the amendment posted online would replace the department with a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention, “which will have responsibility for public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach

Cities such as New York and Los Angeles are defunding their police departments.

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Aside from completely dismantling the police, several major cities have committed to defunding their police departments. “Defund the police” has become a common protest chant, as protesters want to see the billions of dollars spent on police equipment and enforcement to instead be spent on investing in communities.

Several jurisdictions have implemented total bans on the police use of choke holds – like the one that killed Eric Gardner.

The NYPD has long banned the use of chokeholds, however, their ban is so often ignored by officers that viral videos of NYPD cops using the deadly maneuver are common. But the New York City Council has just adopted an ordinance that officially makes police use of a chokehold a misdemeanor offense.

The legal ban has already been put into action as an NYPD officer was caught on video using one against a suspect. That officer has already been fired and charged.

Although several police departments have long banned the chokehold – for example, the LAPD banned them 40 years ago – cities are now starting to actually attempt to enforce the ban with legal consequences.

For the first time in decades, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a police reform bill.

Democrats and Republicans are deadlocked over how to address racial inequities in policing, despite strong public sentiment for effective reform after Floyd died in Minneapolis as a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

In June, the House passed sweeping legislation to address racial inequality in policing but the bill is all but dead on arrival in the Senate, and has a formal veto threat from Trump.

The bill addresses chokeholds, no-knock warrants, police body cameras, use of deadly force, and training to de-escalate confrontations with suspects and to encourage officer intervention against illegal conduct as it occurs.

And one thing is clear – these reforms have the support of most Americans.

Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Most Americans believe that change must be made to law enforcement across the nation and that reforms are needed to reduce police brutality against Black Americans.

The poll, which was conducto de by Ipsos on behalf of Public Agenda and USA TODAY, found that about three in four people surveyed say racial bias against Black Americans is a serious problem in the U.S.

The poll found several reforms that focused around training and diversity in policing had support from three-quarters or more of respondents: requiring all officers to undergo training on de-escalation tactics to avoid the use of force, requiring all officers to undergo training on how to be less racially biased and recruiting more Black Americans to become police officers.

Even more popular: transparency reforms. Nine in 10 respondents supported having officers wear body cameras, 8 in 10 supported requiring police departments to publicly report all incidents involving the use of force within 72 hours, and nearly as many supported creating a national public database of officers who have used excessive force – and prohibiting other jurisdictions from rehiring them.