Tag Archives: homies unidos

Alex Sanchez Bail Hearing Update

1 Jul

FREE ALEX SANCHEZI am sad to say that Alex Sanchez was not released yesterday by the courts. This comes to show that a fair process has already been denied in this case. A case where over 100 character letters of support was scuffed off by the courts, Over 1 million dollars in bail was raised by community in less than a week and the court still stood by their words, “he’s a risk to the community”.

I was unable to attend the court hearing myself, but I am adding a link to a piece written for The Nation by Senator Tom Hayden, here. This is a really well written article with insight given from Father Boyle of Homeboy Industries on MS members refuting the information that the FBI is putting out there about Alex, in fact they laugh at the idea of Alex being a “shot caller”. Tom Hayden was at the bail hearing and was questioned as to why he did not put up his house as a bail asset if he believed in Alex’s innocence, at which point he did offer the title to his home as bail. The court said they would not take his home as an asset either way.

Also, below is an informal report by Sandra, who was inside the court hearing and by Sonji, outside on the streets for the community press conference. After all of this, Juan Gabriel’s song, “Pero que Necesidad”, is the only thing making me feel better, watch the whole video, you’ll understand why…

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“i just got back…sandra and i totally needed a beer after that one…

so bail was denied..apparently because he is a “flight risk” and he has contacts in El Salvador…totally ignoring the fact that alex is here due to political assylum..he can’t go back…this is just another way of keeping him locked up..in a matter of days..alex defense was able to raise 1.1 million dollars to bail him out..just goes to show the power of people, right? and tom hayden actually offered to put his house up as callateral and the judge said NO..Alex stays in jail..

These are some notes that  sandra took because she was inside the hearing…im putting everything as bullet points.
* it was mentioned that alex can loose his political asylum
* he has no respect for US law.
* he’s a danger to the community
* his defense attorney had not been provided any discovery (evidence documents) before the hearing so he couldn’t provide a good defense for this hearing

* What they have as evidence:
– about two dozen phone calls where intercepted by wire taps 2000-2001-2006
– a 1999 photo taken of alex coming out of a anti-gang conference..they said he is posing with gang members throwing gang signs
– although alex has taken most of his gang tattoos off he still has one around his neck they said that shows that he’s still in the gang and that the tattoo removal program is a sham..the defense response was that
tattoo removals are very expensive he did take most of them off and the only one left is around his collarbone..the most painful place to remove a tat from

* charges: extortion, narcotics trafficking, swaying witness testimony, raqueteering, murder and conspiracy to murder
* they said alex has been living a double life and that Homies was created as a MS front and that they have proof of him being a shot caller for MS13, normandie clique.

i was outside and took notes of the press conference…bear with me..

Monica one of the board members addressed:
* alex is not a flight risk and a part of the community
* over 100 letters were written from people around the country and given to the judge.
* the Board of Directors and Homies Unidos stand by Alex.

Tony Mohammed repin’ the Nation of Islam:
* Nation of Islam stands by Alex and Homies Unidos
* this is an injustice being committed
*
Alex has broker more peace deals and saved more lives then any lapd or sherriff officers
*we are not pleading for quilt or innocence but his honor as someone who has put himself in the front lines and bringing peace between the black and brown community.

Deacon Douglas Johnson on behalf of Greg Boyle of HOmeboy Industries:
* Father Boyle is out of town
* Homeboy Industries stands by Alex and Homies Unidos
* Alex stands by the demonized and placed him self on the margins; true prophets of justice often pay a price.
* we wait with alex and stand by him as he stands by those disfranchised and readly left out.

Oscar sanchez – Alex’s brother:
* was confident due to bail amount raised and his history with community work. is disappointed. thanks for all the support…

Senator Tom Hayden:
*the judge said alex had no community support, that he leads a double life and we are all being fooled.  (he kind of went over what happened in the hearing)
* he said that in his experience this case is weak

Cecil B. Murray FAME Pastor, was not present but fame stands by alex and homies.
Luis Rodriguez the author is Always Running was also present…
so was a bunch of folks from homies, yjc, i don’t know who else but it was a decent size crowd and it was very diverse too…

for more info go to – www.wearealex.org

that’s it..i got to go throw up now.. peace…”

WE ARE ALEX

28 Jun

Fair Trial for AlexI met Alex Sanchez for the first time when doing a radio interview for Mujeres Abriendo Caminos on the work of gang interventionist and the transformation it was creating in the lives of two teenage womyn who were who were caught up in a local gang. The young women respected Alex and saw him as a mentor because he was brave enough to change his life and help young people like them find hope in creating a different future. These women were very smart and greatly related and recognized Alex’s work from ex-gang member to peace-maker.

I continued knowing Alex and Homies Unidos for the selfless and tireless work they commit to on a daily basis in Los Angeles. Alex also participated in the hunger strike for immigrant and human rights that took place in Placita Olvera in 2008.  Homies Unidos works with families to help young people remove themselves from a life of violence. H.U. has offered free legal services to under-resourced residents of L.A. They have participated in free food programs in the Mac Arthur Park area. They have helped people clean their bodies and mind by offering affordable tattoo removal services. During another interview, I learned of the commitment that Alex and Homies Unidos offered to Luis Enrique Guzman to fight his case for freedom in the courts.

The positive transformation that Alex Sanchez has been a part of in inspiring is infinite. And it is the reason why hundreds of his supports, locally and internationally, are standing by him during this challenging time. Today a meeting was held where his lawyer, Homies Unidos board members, and family members spoke so that we may be a part of his campaign for a fair trial, WE ARE ALEX ! (website active after July 1, 2009). The truth is that Alex should not even have to go through this. Those of us who have worked with him throughout this city recognize his sincerity of servitude in peace-making. If you would like to support the campaign, you can attend his bail hearing on Tuesday, June 30th @ 1PM. Also, please write a character letter of support, there is also a collection of bail assets that are being received by: Kerry Bensinger’s Law Firm.  Bensinger, Ritt, Tai & Thvedt, 65 N. Raymond Ave, Suite 320, Pasadena, CA 91103 – fax 626-685-2562.

I will continue to update my blog as much as possible, currently I am in pain from a pinched nerve on my right shoulder, it hurts to type all this out on multiple levels. Below is my personal letter of support, also here is a link to CISPES Letter of Solidarity. Remember to keep the faith, we are all strong and courageous as we walk with truth and justice on our sides. WE ARE ALEX!

June 28, 2009

Honorable Alicia G. Rosenberg
United States Courthouse
312 N. Spring Street, Courtroom D
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Re: Mr. Alex Sanchez Cr. 09-00466

Dear Judge Rosenberg:

My name is Ana Castillo and I am a community organizer working with youth advocates in the prevention of substance abuse and violence in the city of Inglewood. I write to you in full support of Mr. Alex Sanchez, a person who is deeply valued in the community because of his tireless and selfless commitment to youth, families, and the social well being of the city of Los Angeles as a whole.  In my career and efforts to create a better future for our youth, I have had the honor of using Homies Unidos and Mr. Sanchez since 2005 as a resource and source of wisdom and inspiration in the arduous work of peace-keeping, creation of safe alternatives for young people, and collective empowerment of communities.

Mr. Sanchez has served as an example of what violence prevention and intervention can do in the lives of under-privileged youth in our city. He has over-come and survived the violence in this city and has committed himself for over 10 years to building peace and uplifting the lives of young men and women. His presence in the community has been so strong, that I have seen first hand the way young people look up to him. Young people relate to his past, but most importantly, they want to relate to who he has become, and that is a person of servitude, turning lives around for youth who desperately need a way out of the circles of violence and poverty.

In Mr. Sanchez’s commitment to the work of social justice, equity, and creation of opportunities for youth, he has been asked to speak in college lecture halls, community town halls, and media outlets. He is sought after as a person of example because his stories serve purpose time and time again for those of us who want to change at a personal level and beyond ourselves. Mr. Sanchez is no threat to our community; he empowers, gives tools, and resources to individuals so they can build their future.

I speak highly of Mr. Sanchez because of the work he is committed to in this city and across borders. Please allow for his release. I do believe that the court can see that he is a person of trust and respect because he also has the community’s trust and respect. Thank you for your time and commitment to justice.

Sincerely,
Ana Castillo

Interview with Luis Enrique Guzman

15 Feb

To listen to the original Spanish interview with  audio interview with Luis Enrique Guzman, please click here.

Luis Enrique Guzman at an Immigrant Rights Rally along with members of Homies Unidos

Luis Enrique Guzman at an Immigrant Rights Rally along with members of Homies Unidos

Luis Enrique was born in Guatemala, near the University of San Carlos. As a child growing up in Guatemala’s period of armed conflict, he was a witness to many of the student protests. At a young age he turned his attention towards issues of human rights and social justice. In 1981, at the age of 12 he was at home when he began to notice smoke coming from the University. The student movement was protesting the rise in transportation costs. But this peaceful protest turned unexpectedly violent. Luis Enrique, being young and curious, ran to see what the commotion was about, only to become witness of military police men firing their rifles at students. He saw the bodies of university students fall to the floor and die on the streets. It was this memory that changed who he would become.

Luis Enrique became an activist and joined the student movement. In the midst of his activism he came across a Mexican journalist who had photographed the massacre of Panzos, a community located in Alta Verapaz. Through these photographs, his consciousness was again impacted. He saw the limbs of men, women, elders, and children tortured and cut off, including women who were pregnant. The pictures of the scenes were graphic and violent. According to the Commission on Historical Clarification, the massacre at Panzos was only one out of 626 massacres that the Guatemalan Armed Forces was responsible for. The height of this violence occurred between the period of 1979 to 1986, under the governance of general Fernando Romeo Lucas Garcia (1978 – 1982), general Efrain Rios Montt (1982 – 1983), and general Oscar Humberto Mejia Victores (1983 – 1986). A genocide took place in Guatemala where over 200,000 people died, many of them of Mayan ancestry. By 1982, the army adopted a different tactic and started executing more women than men in a brutally systematic manner.

Luis Enrique was profoundly affected by the state of his country and decided to take part in the guerilla movement. But before he could join, his mother talked to his father who lived in Chicago, Illinois and planned to send Luis Enrique to the United States. When Luis Enrique was 19 years old he emigrated to the U.S. Life changed for Luis Enrique after he moved to Illinois. After some time he decided to move to California. Unfortunately he was caught up in the criminal justice system and after violating his parole for crossing state lines, he was arrested in Nevada and imprisoned in a California state prison for three years. On June 12, 2006, the day he was to walk out as free man, the Department of Homeland Security waited at the prison doors to take him into their custody and transport him to an immigration detention facility.

While at the immigration detention center, Luis Enrique continued his activism. Once again he witnessed human rights violations inside the detention facility, including the death of Victorilla Arellano, a woman who was HIV positive and who was denied her medication. In August of 2007, he organized a peaceful demonstration with other detainees. Over 10 security guards beat Luis Enrique but the organizers were able to have their demands met.

Luis Enrique also began to spend time in the library inside the detention center. He began to research his case and realized that if he were deported, he would surely face death upon arrival in Guatemala. This is because he had been part of a student movement while he lived in Guatemala and he now carried tattoos on his body. Although his tattoos were not gang related, Guatemala’s “social cleansing” would label him as a gang member, making him susceptible to torture and murder either by other gang members or by the police. Luis Enrique was not going to take this chance and asked the judge to allow him to defend his case. He continued to do research and began to reach out for legal assistance.

Thanks to the American Civil Liberties Union, a national organization advocating for individual rights, and Homies Unidos, a Los Angeles based gang prevention organization, he received books to continue his research and was able to recruit three key experts who would aid him in convincing the Judge of the potential torture, or death that Luis Enrique could face if deported to Guatemala. Thanks to the Geneva Convention Laws against Torture, which was adopted by the United States, Luis Enrique successfully proved his case and won his freedom in December 2008.

Luis Enrique now continues to be a human rights activist and organizer. He is also a volunteer at Homies Unidos and gives legal assistance to detainees and conducts research for immigration cases. He is not a lawyer, but in fighting in court for his freedom for over two years, he has been able to use his experience for the benefit of the immigrant community. In a time of uncertainty for immigrants and their families, the story of Luis Enrique Guzman serves as an example for every individual to learn how to defend themselves, and stand up for justice.