On the morning of May 11, Tucson federal prosecutors announced their decision to retrial Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz on charges of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter for the murder of José Antonio Elena Rodríguez on October 10, 2012. Although on April 23, a jury in a federal courtroom in Arizona acquitted Swartz of second-degree murder, the retrial decision gives José Antonio, his family, and all the victims of Border Patrol violence one more opportunity to achieve justice and stop Border Patrol brutality. The retrial will start October 23, 2018.
The retrial of Lonnie Swartz gives prosecutors the opportunity to reframe the prosecution in accordance with voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. The retrial is also an opportunity to present evidence not included in the first trial to show that Border Patrol agent Swartz acted with undoubted recklessness in taking José Antonio’s life. Prosecutors decision to retrial Swartz is one step further to stop Border Patrol excessive use of force and their culture of impunity that has resulted in the killing of at least 97 people in the last 15 years.
SOA Watch is part of the coalition of international and national movements that has come together to demand justice for José Antonio, his family, and all the victims of Border Patrol violence. José Antonio was shot 16 times from the US side of the militarized border wall into Nogales, Sonora. His killing is the result of systematic impunity that profits from Border Patrol’s criminalization and annihilation of people of color inside and outside the United States.
José Antonio was 16 years old when he was killed by Lonnie Swartz. The ten shots that took José Antonio’s life also took away the fear of his family. After five years and half, the Elena Rodríguez family has courageously unmasked the culture of impunity of the US Border Patrol. The struggle of José Antonio’s family to keep his memory alive and seek justice reflects the struggle of so many families speaking truth to justice and breaking down the walls of impunity. The solidarity movement that helped make the retrial possible will not stop until there is justice made. Your part of this fight!
Guaranteeing justice for José Antonio is the beginning of guaranteeing justice for all the victims of Border Patrol violence and US militarization across the Americas.
*On Monday May 14, Israeli forces killed at least 55 Palestinians who were peacefully demonstrating against the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. Six children, two journalist and some elders are among the victims. Other 2,410 people were injured; 170 are in critical condition. This event has became the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 war. The Israeli forces shot at the demonstrators from the Israeli side of the wall that separates them from Palestine. Today we demand justice for Palestinians!