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art by Favianna Rodriguez

Art by Favianna Rodriguez

“ Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. ” – Paulo Freire, Educator


Here's the message we sent to our members. After you've read it, please add your voice.

Teen killed for writing this:

Hold the police accountable

Dear Friend,

A letter R scribbled on the side of an abandoned McDonald’s. That’s all it took for Miami Beach police officers to chase down teenage art student Israel Hernandez Llach, tasing him repeatedly, until he lay dead on the ground. A friend watched in horror as cops high-fived each other.1 And now, a Florida community is once again searching for answers about the brutal death of one of its teenagers.

Tell the Miami Beach Police Department (MBPD) to hold the officers who killed an unarmed teen accountable.

Israel may have been running from police because he was an immigrant from Colombia, who had just recently received his papers, and he feared deportation. He was an art student who won awards for his paintings and had two sculptures displayed at the Miami Art Museum. His business designing skateboards had just started taking off.

Had the police followed protocol, Israel would have been charged with a misdemeanor of criminal mischief for scribbling on a wall. It’s highly unlikely he would have even faced jail time. Instead, the unarmed teen lost his life due to unnecessary force.2

And the cop responsible for Israel’s death had already been the subject of six previous complaints of battery, excessive force, and courtesy and respect violations. Two years ago, he’d been suspended for violating the department’s drug testing policies. Yet, MBPD allowed him to continue working as a police officer.3

Tell the Miami Beach Police Department to hold the officers who killed an unarmed teen accountable.

This isn’t the first time a brutal incident like this happens in Miami Beach. Just 2 years ago, eight Miami Beach Police officers fired 100 shots at an intoxicated motorist, killing him and wounding four innocent bystanders. Those officers have yet to face charges. And there are many more stories like that one.2

Israel Hernandez Llach's death won't be the last unless we hold the Miami Beach Police Department accountable. And the best way to do that is by blowing this story up so that the department and attorneys general can’t ignore it and hope it goes away. If thousands of us sign this petition and raise our voices, the media will take notice and the pressure on the police department will multiply.

Can you add your name and share this petition?

Tell the Miami Beach Police Department to hold the officers who killed an unarmed teen accountable.

As classmates begin to plan out the next stage of their lives, Israel’s parents, sister, and friends are left with a gaping hole. And the worst part is, it could happen to any teenager, scribbling on an abandoned wall or jay-walking in the middle of the street or driving with a broken taillight. Until we speak up, there will be no justice.

Thanks for speaking up,

Gabriela, Arturo, Jesus, and the rest of the Presente.org team

P.S. Can you donate $5 to support our work? We rely on contributions from people like you to see campaigns like this through.

1. "Friends and family mourn teen who died after tasering by police," Miami Herald, Aug 8, 2013. 
2. "Seeking Answers After Youth's Death in Police Stop," NY Times, Aug 8, 2013.
3. "Israel Hernandez Killing: Officer Who Tasered Teen Put on Leave, Family Ask Feds for Probe," Miami New Times, Aug 9, 2013.