I’m three years out of high school and more recently I’ve been seeing news publications about alumni from my graduating class who are being incarcerated.
Recently, I saw a friend of mine share a news article about 20-year-old Angel Cruz “mysteriously” dying in Cook County jail. I hadn’t known him well but I had seen him in the hallways in school. Given how police treat us, even though it wasn’t surprising to hear of his “mysterious” death, I was immediately suspicious.
Early reports said there was bruising on his body but that there were no signs of foul play, that this 20 year old just died of natural causes while in custody.
When Angel’s mom identified his body, she demanded answers.
“The mother of a 20-year-old Chicago area man is demanding answers – following her son’s death over the weekend while he was in Cook County Jail.
The mother of Angel Cruz, Leticia Vargas, says she got a call that her 20-year-old son had died of a heart attack.
In disbelief, she says, she went to the hospital where he was taken from Cook County Jail and she says his body was covered with bruises and bite marks.”
We live in a city that has a hyper militarized police force that murders more innocent people than most any other police department in the country. A city whose Cook County States Attorney Anita Alvarez is losing her job (thanks to the leadership of Black Queer and Femme Women who organized the #ByeAnita campaign) because she turned the city of Chicago into the false confession capital of the nation while covering up the misconduct and murders committed by police officers.
Like Laquan McDonald, a Black seventeen year old male shot sixteen times by officer Jason Van Dyke, Angel Cruz’s death will face an attempted cover up because Black and Brown skin is seen as subhuman.
As Chicanx and Latinx organizers we demand an open investigation to his murder. It’s what the Latino Caucus should have already demanded but instead they were more focused on promoting a Chicago Police Superintendent with a Spanish surname than the killing of Chicanxs by the state.
Angel’s family deserves answers. Everyone murdered by the Chicago Police Department deserves justice.
Fernando Romulo is a Chicano organizer in the city of Chicago and former member of We Charge Genocide.