When the topic of police brutality and excessive force comes up, folks usually think of the experience of Black people. However, getting fucked up by the laws isn’t a Black monopoly. While outrage was shown for the police shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, five Latino citizens were also gunned down by police last week. They went largely unreported, only receiving local coverage. The names of the victims are Vinson Ramos, Melissa Ventura, Anthony Nuñez (pictured above), Pedro Villanueva and Raul Saavedra-Vargas. “We’re being targeted,” Fresno organizer Gloria Hernandez told teleSUR. “The media never focused on Latinos. We’re not attractive.”
TeleSUR gives details of each death:
After receiving a call for domestic abuse, three officers showed up at a Jack-in-the-Box in Bell, east of Los Angeles, on Thursday. Vinson Ramos was reportedly holding a folding knife, and when he refused to put it down, the officers opened fire. He was with his girlfriend and her son, reported KABC.
Melissa Ventura, a 24-year-old mother of three, was shot and killed by cops on Tuesday in Yuma, Arizona. Official accounts say she was holding a knife when they shot her and that they were called out for a case of domestic violence.
“She was the heart and soul of my family,” Ventura’s sister Tiffany told KYMA. “I don’t know what we are going to do without her, the only thing I can say is that her kids will know how much she loved them.”
The day before, police in San Jose, California were called to Anthony Nuñez’s house, who the police chief said was then described as suicidal. Nuñez reportedly left the house with a gun when police arrived, and after 14 minutes of police trying to convince him not to kill himself, they shot Nuñez instead. He was 18 years old.
Local media reported that neighbors denied he was armed and that no one was allowed to approach him to talk him out of suicide.
“Never in a million years would I think he would take his (own) life,” his mother told the press. “There are other methods of taking someone down without shooting to kill … I don’t understand why it always has to be fatal.”
Laurie Valdez, the partner of Antonio Guzman Lopez — shot in the back and killed by San Jose State University police in 2014 — told teleSUR that she met with Nuñez’s family, who is outraged at police. The two shots came “like snipers” from the distance of three houses away, and officers did not attempt to perform CPR, call an ambulence or move Nuñez’s body until 10 hours later, they told Valdez. A bullet even pierced their wall, right under the doorbell, as a permanent reminder of the murder.
In the official statement, though, “the police is always the victim,” said Valdez.
Two Latinos were killed by police on Sunday: Pedro Villanueva from Fullerton, California and Raul Saavedra-Vargas from Reno, Nevada.
Villanueva, 19, was reportedly fleeing uniformed police in his car when undercover highway patrol officers shot at his moving vehicle—a tactic banned by major police departments.
Raul Saavedra-Vargas was also fleeing a traffic stop when he almost drove through downtown’s Biggest Little City Wing Fest—a popular chicken-eating festival—and was shot dead. Police said that they opened fire when they saw him driving into the street festival and approaching a cop.
The struggle is vast and encompasses many. Keep this in mind when discussing and acting on police brutality and excessive force in America.