An 11-year-old girl, acting in self-defense, should not be treated as a felon. We have a duty as people to prevent this from becoming a precedent.
Support Grows for Maribel Cuevas
By Mike Rhodes
A support rally was held in Fresno for an eleven year old Maribel Cuevas, arrested for defending herself against neighborhood boys who were throwing water balloons at her. Maribel, who threw a rock and hit one of the boys, was arrested by a Fresno police officer who hand cuffed her as she lie on the ground with his knee on her back. Three police cars responded and a law enforcement helicopter was overhead during the arrest of the young girl. She was taken to juvenile hall where she spent the next 5 days. The charge against her is felony assault with a deadly weapon and her trial is due to start on Wednesday, August 3, 2005.
At a rally on Friday, July 29, in front of the Fresno juvenile hall facility where Maribel Cuevas had been held, the Rev. Floyd Harris called for justice in the case. Speaking to the 75 - 100 people at the rally he said "there is a new movement in Fresno. . . and it is time for us to stand up and be counted." The rally was organized by the Coalition for Civil Rights in Fresno, a new organization that is addressing issues of police misconduct.
Also speaking at the rally was Maribel Cuevas’s father. Speaking in Spanish, Martin Cuevas said the family was grateful for the support and said he hoped other families would not have to go through what they have endured. Mr. Cuevas said that the "police should not punish our children, they should be protecting them." He added that how you are treated by the police should not depend on whether people have legal documentation to be in this country or not. Everyone should be treated equally under the law.
The arrest happened in April 2005 when Maribel was outside her home and several neighborhood boys rode by on their bikes, teasing her, calling her names, and throwing water balloons at her. When the boys refused to leave, Maribel responded by throwing a rock that hit one of the boys on the forehead. An aunt of one of her playmates saw the boy’s forehead was bleeding and put a towel on it to stop the bleeding. She then called 911. In the meantime, Maribel ran to the boys house to apologize to his parents.
Maribel says that when the police arrived they grabbed her from behind, "by my shirt. I was so scared. . . I didn’t know what they were doing." Maribel’s mother, Guadalupe Cuevas, tried to reach her daughter but was kept away by arresting officers. Guadalupe does not speak English and the arresting officers did not speak Spanish. Maribel was read her Maranda rights (twice) in English, taken to juvenile hall, and booked on felony assault charges. She was held in juvenile hall for the next five days, without seeing her parents.
Gloria Hernandez, one of the organizers of the rally, announced to those assembled that Maribel and her family had arrived. Hernandez, pointing to the juvenile hall behind her, said that "Maribel is a symbol of all the other children that are in the criminal justice system." Hernandez compared the prison industrial complex to the system of boarding schools that took away the language and culture of Native American people.
The diversity of the crowd at the support rally was impressive. There were members of the Latino, African American, the Asian community, as well as a handful of Anglo allies. Several speakers at the rally pointed to the need for an Independent Police Auditor (IPA) in Fresno. For more information about the effort to bring an IPA to Fresno, see: http://www.fresnoalliance.com/cccjc/ . The new direction that seems to have come out of the arrest of Maribel Cuevas is talk about organizing a local Copwatch program in Fresno. Here are the details about an organizing meeting to set this up:
Saturday, August 27
12 Noon - 5 PM
Copwatch - Help stop the cops from being the judge, jury, and executioners!
Do you want to:
* Stop Police Abuse?
* Help Prevent Police Violence Against Our Children, Brothers, Sisters, and Elderly People?
Do you want to learn to:
* Become A Lawful Witness
* Document Police Brutality and Abuse
* Know Your Rights When Doing This
* Help Victims of Police Abuse
Come to the Fresno Copwatch Meeting which will be held at the Hinton Center, 2385 S Fairview (located at Fairview and Church Ave in West Fresno).
For More Information call or email:
- NAN (The National Action Network, California Chapter ) Rev. Floyd Harris, Jr. (559) 288-0828 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- San Joaquin Coalition for Immigrant Rights Gloria Hernandez (559) 489-6033 email: email@example.com
- Mai Vue (559) 227-4571 firstname.lastname@example.org