On the night of October 10, around 11:30 pm, José Antonio Elena Rodriguez, a 16-year-old resident of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, was shot dead by a U.S. Border Patrol agent on Mexican soil. This tragedy hit home for me because José Antonio was killed on a street I know well in the border community where I live. But this incident is not unique. There have been 18 violent killings by Border Patrol or Customs and Border Protection agents since 2010—including a similar one in Nogales in January 2011. To my shame, I failed to raise my voice then.
The known circumstances of these killings strongly suggest unnecessary or excessive use of force. Please join me in denouncing them and calling for action.
The agent that killed José Antonio fired on him from atop a 25-foot embankment and from behind a 20-foot-tall protective steel border wall. José Antonio was shot in the back 13 times, with two bullets found in his head. He was unarmed. He died only a couple blocks from his house. These facts leave me with no doubt that this was an unlawful killing.
Six weeks have passed. The FBI, tasked with investigating the incident, has released no official statements, and has neither identified nor arrested the agent involved. The identities of officers involved in shootings are public information, and many in this border community, where I and other No More Deaths volunteers live and work, see José Antonio’s death as a clear case of bloody murder.
The excessive use of force that resulted in the deaths of José Antonio and 17 others is not the action of isolated “bad apples.” Rather, it is a consequence of the Border Patrol’s militarized approach to border enforcement, and it shows a callousness that is consistent with the findings of No More Deaths’ 2011 report Culture of Cruelty, which documented 32,075 incidents of mistreatment of migrants in Border Patrol custody.
We seek justice for José Antonio’s family and an end to these killings. Please take action and make your voice heard.
For justice and for peace,
No More Deaths volunteer
The message above went out on Monday, November 19, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.