Things That Matter

Hiker Ronald Sanchez Jr. Identified As Victim In Fatal Machete Attack On Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail stretches 2,190 miles from the red Georgia clay trail through the wooded trails of Maine. The people who quit their jobs and carry everything they need to sleep and survive outside for four to six months are called “thru-hikers” and they meet and create trail families along the way.

So when news broke that on Friday, May 10, one thru-hiker was murdered and another critically injured from an attack by a man wielding a machete, the community was rocked. Authorities just released the name of the victim as Ronald Sanchez Jr.

Ronald “Stronghold” Sanchez, Jr., 43, survived several deployments in Iraq and was using the Appalachian Trail as a form of outdoor therapy.

@SummitCreekShop / Twitter

Sanchez returned from war with depression and PTSD. He was in a cycling group, a boat racing team and showed horses–all as a means of trying to get out of his comfort zone and treat his depression.

A Veteran Affairs’ doctor planned to track and report on Sanchez’ recovery along the AT.

@themailboxes / Instagram

Sanchez’s sister, Brenda Sanchez Loera, told CNN in a phone interview that “He was adventurous and he got out of his shell and we were so proud of that because for a while he was in darkness.”

Massachusetts man James L. Jordan, 30, was arrested for murder and assault with intent to commit murder.

@ArrestsMugshots / Twitter

The court documents include witness reports from three surviving hikers who said Jordan was “disturbed and unstable, and was playing his guitar and singing.” Jordan began threatening the hikers, including Sanchez, telling them he would pour gasoline on their tents and burn them to death. The group decided to relocate for fear of their lives and started packing up.

Jordan started threatening them with a knife and two of the hikers ran north to escape.

@cnnbrk / Twitter

After Jordan gave up the chase, he returned to the campsite and started yelling at Sanchez and an unidentified female hiker. Sanchez and Jordan entered into a verbal altercation, at which point Sanchez made an emergency call from his cell phone.

That’s when Jordan started stabbing Sanchez repeatedly in the chest.

@boston_informer / Twitter

According to the unidentified female hiker’s witness testimony, when she saw Sanchez collapse to the ground, she started running. Jordan caught up to her and she raised her arms “as if to surrender,” and Jordan began stabbing her.

The second victim had to play dead to survive the attack.

@dc4visitors1 / Twitter

After Jordan presumed her dead, he went back to the campsite, and the female hiker continued running down the trail where she met two hikers off the trail who had just set up camp. They escorted her six miles to a trailhead where they called 911. The hiker is recovering from her injuries at a medical center in Bristol, Tennessee.

Jordan gave himself the trail nickname “Sovereign.”

Sheriff Mike Hensley had the suspect in custody weeks before the murder.

@cbcasithappens / Instagram

In a CBC interview, Hensley reveals that, “On April the 21st of this year, we started receiving calls that there was an individual on the Appalachian Trail threatening people with a machete.” Deputies had been deployed to find him but with no warrants, they let him go. He was later arrested after giving a fake ID to police and for possession of drugs. The hikers that had encountered and reported him refused to press charges against him and he was released on probation.

As hikers discover that the person they hiked with for a day, an afternoon, or a meal, they’re posting tributes.

@julieleavesatrace / Instagram

“Today I found out who was attacked and killed on the AT in Virginia and I’m completely shaken. When we hiked with him right before Hampton, TN I thought he was a badass cause he had two knee braces and it was hard for even baskets to keep up with him,” julieleavesatrace wrote on Instagram. “He said he was doing shorter miles because he was easing into recovery with his knees. But he did those shorter miles so fast! We ate with him at the shelter before Hampton where he decided to stay for the night. There was a graffiti board there and I remember Drawing a huge heart on it. RIP Stronghold. I know for sure if you were still here you would’ve made it to Katahdin. ❤️”

Hikers are now searching for ways to honor his memory.

@tlbrown2012 / Instagram

One user wanted to carry something of his to the end of the trail in his honor. Another wants to build a shelter in his memory. The annual celebratory “Trail Days” taking place in Damascus, Virginia–where Sanchez would likely be celebrating the halfway point of the trail–is holding a ceremony in his memory.

Jordan has been seen before a judge and is being held in jail pending psychiatric evaluation and trial.

READ: Venezuelan Charged With Murdering 24-Year-Old Valerie Reyes Who Was Found Dead In A Suitcase

Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Are The Women Fighting To Find The Stolen Children During The Argentine Dictatorship

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Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Are The Women Fighting To Find The Stolen Children During The Argentine Dictatorship

Sundance Institute

During the 1970s a group of desperate Argentinian mothers began protesting government officials and holding them accountable for the human rights violations that had been committed in the military junta  known as the Dirty War. The determined women violated the government’s law against mass assembly and risked the ire of Argentina’s military dictatorship to expose the government’s human rights violations. The biggest part of their fight however had been to expose the kidnapping of over 30,000 individuals known today as “Desaparecidos” or “the disappeared.”

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (or, the Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo) is a movement of Argentine mothers who campaigned to find out what happened to their children who had “disappeared” during the 1976 government takeover.

The mothers’ tragic stories began in 1976. At the time the Argentine military had toppled the presidency of Isabel Perón. According to History.com, “it was part of a larger series of political coups called Operation Condor, a campaign sponsored and supported by the United States.” The new military dictatorship resulted in the Dirty War, which was ultimately a fight against the Argentinian people. It opened doors to a period of state-sponsored torture and terrorism and saw the government turn against Argentina’s citizens, targeting those suspected of being aligned with leftist, socialist or social justice. As part of the rule of terror, the government kidnapped and killed an estimated 30,000 people. They also made great efforts to cover up the dead and missing people.

But the family members and friends of the missing victims fought for the truth.

The mothers and relatives of people who went missing during the war searched for their loved ones and began to stage protests at the Plaza de Mayo in the 1980s. 

According to History.com “Some of the mothers of the disappeared were grandmothers who had seen their daughters whisked away and presumably killed and their grandchildren given away to other families. Even after the Dirty War ended in 1983, the Grandmothers of the Plaza Mayo have searched for answers and worked to identify children who grew up without any knowledge of their true parents.”

Today the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo have verified the identities of 128 stolen children, thanks to DNA identification techniques but the fight of these mothers and grandmothers lives on. Sadly, thousands of Argentinian children remain missing.

The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo is a 1985 Argentine documentary film that highlights the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

At the time of its release, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and in 2013, received an update on “Abuelas: Grandmothers on a Mission” which highlights the work of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina.

The Police’s Reaction To The Black Lives Matter Protests For George Floyd Vs. Anti-Quarantine Demonstrators Says A Lot

Things That Matter

The Police’s Reaction To The Black Lives Matter Protests For George Floyd Vs. Anti-Quarantine Demonstrators Says A Lot

Stephen Maturen / Stringer

Derek Chauvin (a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department) pinned George Floyd to the ground by kneeling on his neck for seven minutes.

For the first three minutes of being restrained Floyd (a 46-year-old Black man) pled for his life begging Chauvin to remove his knee because he couldn’t breathe. After four minutes Floyd stopped moving, and bystanders capturing video of the request determined that he was unresponsive. The aftermath of his death after sparked explosive protests and reminders, yet again, that Black people are not safe in this country and continue to. be subjected to inequality.

On Tuesday morning, video of the incident that took place on a sidewalk in Minneapolis surfaced online fueling anger and protests.

There’s so much in the video that is distressing, but hearing Floyd begging the officer to let up and repeating “I can’t breathe” is only a small part that has once fueled the Black Lives Matter movement. After all, we’ve heard those words before. In 2014, Eric Garner, uttered the same ones while dying under police brutality in New York.

At the time of his death, Floyd had been facing arrest. The officers involved in the incident had been called to the scene due to a “forgery in progress” in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood of Minneapolis. Note, forgery while a serious crime is a non-violent one.

Darnella Frazier is the woman who captured the video on her phone and posted the footage on Facebook for the world to see.

On Tuesday, May 26, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced that the officers involved had been placed on leave. Later on in the day, four responding officers were fired and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced the incident was being reviewed.

Reactions to the protests show another glaring reminder of the treatment of Black people in the United States vs. white.

Reactions to anti-mask protests and demonstrations against government stay-at-home orders in the past few weeks have been met with stoic reactions.

You’ve seen the images. In the face of demonstrators furious about the safety restrictions implemented to combat COVID-19, police officers and government officials have responded primarily with nonviolence. We’ve seen no stun grenades or tear gas.

But the crowds of Black protestors rallying for “Justice for George” have been met with riot gear and chemical agents. According to reports around 8:00 pm of the protests police in riot gear fired sandbag rounds, rubber bullets, and pepper spray.

Once again, Black people are being forced to fight for their lives while non-Black people of color get off easy while saying or doing little from the sidelines.