National Campaign The trial of Alvaro Hernandez will be in Odessa, Texas after a
change of venue from Alpine, in far west Texas. As soon as a definite
trial date is set, it will be announced. Alvaro Hernandez is being tried
on charges of aggravated assault on a sheriff and a city police. The real
issues though are a person right to self defense against police abuse,
conspiracy and terror.
to Free Alvaro Now!
The police in west Texas have a history of abuse,
frame-ups and brutality against Alvaro going back to his days as a youth.
Two sheriff deputies were convicted in Pecos federal court for criminal
civil rights violations ensuing the brutal beating of Alvaro years ago.
One of those unindicted co-conspirators who participated in Alvaro's
beating is now sheriff of Fort Stockton, Texas. What punishment did the
police receive? Five years probation! Never did they spend a day in jail!
The system protects those who commit crimes against our Raza. As a result
of that beating, Alvaro won a civil rights lawsuit against the police and
the county of Pecos-a county notorious for being anti-Mexican ever since
the legendary judge Roy Bean's "law west of the Pecos", a colonial judicial
system designed to "legalize" land thefts and lynching of Mexicanos by
gringo colonial settlers.
The authorities are trying to unlawfully imprison Alvaro Hernandez
because he is not afraid to fight back and because he has stood firmly
against all forms of injustices committed against la Raza, through his
community based activism and organizing. On November 4, 1996, representing
himself in court, first degree felony charges were dismissed against him
because he proved his innocence in a police-prosecution plot to falsely
imprison him through lies and withholding of evidence that cleared him of
said false charges. If it hadn't been for those original false charges,
Alvaro would not now be sitting in jail awaiting trial on other charges of
alleged false police assaults. The police had been provoking Alvaro months
prior to the confrontation he had with the sheriff, when the sheriff
attempted to assault Alvaro with the sheriff's gun. It is common knowledge
of police to assault citizens then turn around a file false assault charges
on citizens to cover up police crimes. The Houston police murder of Jose
Campos Torres is a classic example of such police crimes against our Raza.
see also, Armando Morales' "Ando Sangrando" (I am bleeding) a study of
Mexican-American police conflict.
Alvaro currently has civil rights lawsuits against the city of
Alpine, the county, the sheriffs and police departments for false arrest,
malicious prosecution, conspiracy, illegal search and seizure, inhumane
jail conditions and mistreatment; also against Alpine state district judges
for maintaining a history of discrimination and exclusion of Mexican
-Americans from grand juries on the basis of race. Only a small percentage
of Chicanos are selected to serve on grand juries in Alpine while 90% of
felony indictments are against Raza in a county who's population is 50%
Mexican-American. In 1954 the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed race
discrimination against Chicanos in the landmark case of Hernandez vs.
Texas, 347 U.S. 475(1954). Despite these laws, Chicanos in West Texas
continue to this day to be systematically excluded and under represented in
grand jury service. see, Flores vs. State, 783SW2d 793 (Tex-App-El Paso).
Federal law (18USC Section 243) makes in a crime punishable by fine to
exclude persons from grand jury service on the basis of race. In Alvaro's
case, the federal government was made aware of violations of these laws by
state judges. Because the federal government failed to enforce those laws,
U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno has been named as a party-defendant in
Alvaro's lawsuit for discriminatory enforcement and denial of equal
protection of the law. The entire criminal justice system in Alpine, and
particularly throughout Southwest U.S. continues to be pervaded with racism
against Raza-from the police house to the court house. see, U.S.
Commission on Civil Rights, March 1970 report; Mexican-Americans and the
Administration of Justice in the Southwest.
Police continue to attempt to frame Alvaro with lies to hide the
conspiracy against him. Some Alpine community members have not remained
silent: barrio walls have been spray painted with "Free Alvaro" slogans.
The police, la migra, and the U.S. military continue to murder Raza
every day, particularly in the border states (occupied territories) of
Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Arizona, and California. Such gross human
rights abuses and genocide are on the rise. It is the product of this
government's anti-immigrant, anti-Raza racist hysteria to blame us, and all
poor and voiceless people's for the social economic goals of this society.
History is repeating itself. Let us never forget this government's
continuing policy of brutal repression, exploitation, lynchings and murders
of Chicanos Mexicanos ever since the 1841 conquest and occupation of the
U.S. Southwest; the genocide of Chicano youth by the imperialist Vietnam
war; the police murders of 11 year old Santos Rodriguez-Dallas, Ervay
Ramos-Alpine, Larry Lozano-Odessa, Ricardo Morales-Castorville, Jose Campos
Torres-Houston, Ricardo Falcon-New Mexico, Los Seis de Boulder-Colorado,
Ruben Salazar-East Los Angeles, and many more victims of state sanctioned
police terror against our oppressed Raza, barrios, and communities.
Alvaro has a history of community based organizing on behalf of our
Raza. He was in the process of organizing against police brutality in
Alpine. That's the real reason the police began harassing him that
ultimately led to all these false charges. We must not allow this unjust,
oppressive and racist judicial system to bury Alvaro alive in one of its
concrete tombs designed for the poor-its jail-prison cells. Texas has
become the nations "prison house" for warehousing human beings, with more
prisons and prisoners than any other state in the union, perhaps, more
incarcerated person than Russia and South African. The majority being
Chicano and Black prisoners. Prisons are now being operated like
para-military institutions and it has become a lucrative money making
business industry for state and private corporate profit. We must support
Alvaro and defend our freedom fighters, our political prisoners.
The system keeps transferring Alvaro from solitary jails cell to
cell, from Alpine to Odessa, to El Paso, in efforts to break his spirit of
resistance, to disorganize his outside support, to prevent him from
organizing inside the walls, and to silence his legitimate protests against
the subhuman, inhumane living conditions that exist in West Texas county
jails. The authorities fear Alvaro because he is not afraid of them, nor
their threats, because of his sharp legal skills, and because he's an
articulate spokesperson fro prisoners' rights and Chicano liberation.
Alvaro is presently confined in the El Paso county jail. You can write
directly to him to offer your messages of support and solidarity at:
Alvaro Hernandez, 7005911
El Paso County Jail
P.O. Box 125
El Paso, TX 79999
Join the National Campaign to Free Alvaro Hernandez Now! You can
help by sending your financial donations by check or money order made
payable to Free Alvaro Hernandez Now! Your donations will help pay legal
defense fees and to produce other organizing materials on Alvaro's behalf.
Letters from Alvaro
March 18, 1997
Estimados Compañeras y Compañeros en la Lucha:
Yesterday morning a 33 year old Chicano, Juan Ernesto Franco, was
found dead in one of the jail cell blocks. Today the medical examiner
concluded that the prisoner had been murdered by strangulation. (Channel
9-KTSM, El Paso television) six prisoners are in segregation as "suspects"
and jail authorities are putting the blame on "gang warfare" in here in the
Although gangs are a way of life in here, the real issue is being
obscured by authorities. The blame should be on the jail authorities for
failure to provide a safe and secure jail environment, in this situation,
more so, because jail authorities are under a current federal court decree
in Smith vs. Sheriff Sullivan, El Paso County Jail, 611F.2d 1039 (5th cr.
1980) to provide such safe jail conditions. There exists a current level
of violence, assaults, attacks, etc., that is alarming, and not only
violates the court decree, amounts to cruel and unusual punishment that
afflicts all of the jail inhabitants, but also deliberate crimes by the
authorities and violates international human rights laws against the poor,
voiceless, and oppressed class of prisoners here.
Believe me, it is not
uncommon for jail prison authorities to have direct participation and
involvement in such murders. For example, if you are a prisoners
"disliked" by authorities, or a prisoner like myself considered a "trouble
maker" or involved in the struggle inside ("jail house lawyer", or
"leaders") authorities will use other prisoners, or place you in a
situation that will cause injury or loss of life to "rid" the system of the
"thorn" in their saddle, their business, industrial dynasty. The San
Quentin prison assassination of George Jackson, Black Panther Party,
Minister of Defense; the prison medical murder of Ricardo Flores Magon (los
hermanos Magon) in Leavenworth prison; and the many of my comrades killed
by prison authorities (or set-up to be killed) in our prison struggle in
Texas. (see Ruiz vs. Estelle, 503 F.supp 1265 (1980)) is reality.
Texas prison authorities tried to have me assassinated in the past many
times. The sheriff in Alpine (Sheriff Jack McDaniel) was in the process of
killing me on July 18, 1996, so I have no regrets, nor remorse of what
happened in Alpine. You know of the history of brutal repression of
liberation movement by the political police in the United States, FBI's
COINTELPRO, and the government's program in the 60's, 70's to destroy the
Chicano Movement, La Raza Unida Party, Los Seis de Boulder, the attacks on
Escuela Tlaltelolco(Crusade for Justice), MAYO, and many more. The mother
of the murdered prisoner, Estella Veva Franco, was on TV crying for her
murdered son-jail authorities and the state of Texas' hands are right now
dripping with the blood of Juan Ernesto Franco. May he rest in peace. We
must rage on clarifying the issues, dialectically, for our Raza, and bring
them into the class reality of how we must organize nationally to stop
state crimes against our Raza and for our self-determination and our
liberation. YA BASTA!
In the next week or so I will file documents with the federal court
asking that jail authorities here be held in contempt of court for this
level of violence, not with the expectation of "relief' (because courts
protect the real criminals!), but to create an awareness with barrio Raza
in El Paso to unite and mobilize against such injustices in here. The
families and friends of prisoners must be reached and united in this lucha
comun en contra del enemigo comun que nos trata como personas de segunda
clase, vive de nuestra pobreza y explotación, y nos niega el derecho a la
paz, la libertad, y auto-determinación y liberación!
I propose that a protest be staged outside this jail to demand my
freedom, to call on families, friends of prisoners to unite under a common
banner of struggle and to protest violations of human rights in here, when
you all come down here for the proposed April 5 meeting in my case. A
simple one page flyer should be put out an circulated in the barrio and to
the local media-Channel 9, Channel 7, Noticias 26, El Paso Times, etc.
If they start chingando con migo next week call, write, or fax a
complaint to these pigs about my safety and well being:
500 E. San Antonio, rm. 203
El Paso TX, 79901
Sheriff Leo Samaniego
and / or Captain Ralph Mitchell
601 E. Overland
El Paso, TX 79941
Jack E. Crump
Director- Texas Commission on Jail Standards
P.O. Box 12985
Austin, TX 78711
and inform other support people, groups, and raise hell! My only
hope is in the mobilized power of the masses.
Venceremos en la Lucha,
Alvaro Hernandez Luna
LinksChicano Mexicano Prison Project Alvaro Page