“Justice for Stevie” march demands answers

A MOTHER'S PAIN Steven Juarez' mother, Martha Solis, marched to demand answers for her son's death.

The family of Gilroy resident Steven Juarez and about 100 neighbors and friends took to downtown streets on Saturday morning, March 10, demanding answers about last month’s death of the 42-year-old while in police custody.

The emotion-laden “Justice for Stevie” march began at the scene of Juarez’ death on Chestnut Street in Old Gilroy and ended about 10 blocks west at the steps of Gilroy police headquarters.

From Chestnut Street, the marchers wound down Sixth Street to the police station at 7301 Hanna St., chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho, killer police have got to go,” and “No justice, no peace, no racist police.”

Hand-drawn signs and placards carried by the protesters expressed anger and frustration. One read, “Justice for Stevie;” another read, “Who do you call when police murder?”

There were no uniformed officers in sight during the brief march or at the police station, as officers kept a low profile. No city officials were in sight.

Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco and Police Chief Scott Smithee have not commented on the death.

The march formally kicked off a “Justice for Stevie” campaign, which has the goals of holding the city of Gilroy and its police accountable for the death of Juarez. The nonprofit Community Agency for Resources, Advocacy and Services (CARAS), based in Gilroy, is demanding answers about the Juarez death, and changes in the police department’s “use of force” policies and other policies related to how they treat suspects, to prevent deaths like that of Juarez.

The protest began at 11am in front of the house in the low-income neighborhood that Juarez and his family called home,and ended about an hour later. The marchers were peaceful, but spirited.

Rain had threatened early, but held off until the end. Frustrated voices, some amplified with bullhorns, echoed along Sixth Street.

“He was a human being, and they had no right to hurt him like that,” said Juarez’ grieving mother, Martha Silos before the march. “He was my boy, and we’re going to fight so they don’t hurt anyone else.”

“We need to get public oversight on what’s happening in this police department,” said Rev. Jethroe Moore, a member of the San Jose NAACP. “We’ve seen the sexual innuendo that has come out of this police department, so we know they might not be as straight and narrow or as shiny as their badges proclaim.”

Moore’s statement called into question the reputation of the Gilroy Police Department, recently tarnished by a pending lawsuit from a former police dispatcher that alleges sexual misconduct by current and former officers.    

As protesters gathered on Chestnut Street near the scene of Juarez’ death, there were questions from some people gathered about exactly what happened that night.  

“Look at that roof, do you think that kid could have jumped between houses, Superman couldn’t do that,” said Sally Armendariz. Initial police accounts speculated the Juarez had fallen from a roof of one of the one-story bungalows, injuring his head before he fell unconscious during a struggle with officers.

A police spokesman said week they had chased Juarez on foot through the neighborhood on Chestnut Street, then used a Taser and a carotid neck hold to subdue him.

Members of Juarez’ family, including his sister Monica Juarez were suspicious of the circumstances surrounding his death and dissatisfied with their difficulty finding answers. They indicated that a lawsuit might be pending.

“That’s not the end; we have something coming,” Monica Juarez said. “Whatever my brother’s past was, that shouldn’t make a difference. He was in a tree and they Tased him down.”

The exact circumstances of what happened the night of Juarez’ death have not been revealed. Juarez’ family claims that eyewitnesses heard Juarez plead with police, saying, “stop hurting me, stop choking me.”

“When the coroners dropped him off at Habing Funeral Home, they said they would fix him up; I said no, we want to see him as he is,” Silos said. “We wanted to see him before they touched him. My daughter and Steven’s little brother took pictures. He was looking for Taser marks, and he wrote everything down.”

She said the early morning hours between the time the family learned of what occurred on Chestnut Street, up until 7am when they were informed by a coroner that Juarez had died, were torturous to the family.

“Six hours I waited for an answer,” Silos said. “Back in the day, the police would have told me right away. They told me nothing. They wouldn’t even let me pass the yellow line. I didn’t want to admit what happened, that my boy was dead. I didn’t want to think that anything like that could happen to my boy.”

People on Saturday demanded action though, and they aimed high.

“What’s the biggest event in town, the Garlic Festival?” said Moore. “If we don’t get any answers, we’re going to shut it down.”

 

19 COMMENTS

  1. Why on Gods’ green earth is an alleged “Reverend” making threats of “going to shut it down” in reference to the Garlic Festival? How does he plan on doing this? I would be highly concerned that it would be with inciteful verbal violence and it will turn into an angry and violent uncontrolled situation to draw more attention to himself. Thus jeopardizing the innocent lives of festival visitors. The Garlic Festival has absolutely nothing to do with the Juarez incident. Has “Reverend Moore” not seen what is going on recently with all the shootings and verbal threats!!? Not only does his comment lack any type of christianity, it fails miserably to promote a peaceful agenda. The Reverends’ comment should be inferred as a threat to others.
    My suggestion is that the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association apply for a restraining order against “Reverend Moore” for the safety of all festival visitors.

  2. people will not shut it down its going to go on like usual he was an outstanding Gilroy resident there is no justifying the end to his story but just listen to the orders given to you by police its simple if you are innocent they will let you go on with your day don’t reach for anything (not saying he did) but just be calm about the situation you found your self in sorry for your loss but honestly marching wont cut it just look at the president we got and all the marches that have gone on just saying.

  3. DON’T RUN FROM POLICE, DON’T COMMIT CRIMES, DON’T RUN WITH NORTENO, LOSER GANG MEMBERS!! Screw these idiots calling for any harm to the community by shutting down any charity. These supporters won’t call a criminal a criminal and blame everyone else for Steven Juarez own actions. His actions led to his death. Support Gilroy PD as they have to deal with the lowest scum in society!

    • Southsider?…..its ignorant people like you that promotes this kind of actions, trying to sound like a concerned citizen but the wanna be gangster had to come out of you by signing in as “SOUTHSIDER”….all you did was add more stupidity to all you so called “surreno”….first of all we all make mistakes …not one of us is perfect. True there are good cops and there are bad, and I’ve dealt with both and by experience there are more bad cops these days we should be checking them going more deeply into their back ground we have more crooked cops politicians City officials but yet we want to go after innocent immigrants that come to this country to make a good life because well how else can I put it there’s certain men you cannot give a badge to because they have no common sense no leadership skills but really do know how to abuse authority I guarantee you if they were one on one with any suspects in the streets they would have to change there shorts before they get home.

  4. Monica Juarez said. “Whatever my brother’s past was, that shouldn’t make a difference

    Oh sweet honey…yes actions have consequences babe.

    This might not seem fair to the poor, single parents or people that find themselves in a bad situation….but yes indeed..you play you pay.

    Don’t finish school, don’t abstain from pre-marital sex and DO drugs or DO steal from others..you will pay.

    How about instead of marching you get involved in raising good people.

    How about you parent better.

    How about you get involved with you kids school.

    How about you teach your kids consequences.

    How about you set a good example by your own choices, lifestyle and actions.

  5. I can mot believe how many people feel you should submit to police because you may DIE if you don’t! I have a problem with this! As long as you are not a dangerous threat to police or anyone else, you should not be afraid that you are going to die! He had no weapons and was running away, therefore the lives of the police were NOT in danger! There was NO reason for this young man to die! We need a city committee made of of people from different backgrounds to oversee investigations into police shootings and deaths on top of internal investigations. I think every city should do this. Like the grand jury but just for these instances. Yes, support your local police but, weed out the bad ones.

    • If you are afraid you’re going to die if you comply, then by being non-compliant you increase your changes exponentially. Think about that for a minute, let it soak in.

  6. The autopsy will give more complete answers to the “unanswered questions” of the grieving family. He had a reputation, not a good one, all he had to do was comply with officers and none of this would have happened.

  7. My brother David Rios died in men’s jail Milpitas correctional he was the 6 person who died with in that year not knowing why he died the never gave us the autopies we still don’t have answer and my kids were acttact by the Gilroy police at the San yisidro park the cops didn’t not take no for answe for handcuff for no reason and my daughter said don’t touch me I want a female officer and they still didn’t listen so my told themleave NY sister alone she said don’t touch her she wants a female officer so he got upset how they are disrespected her and all the cops were there got my son attact him threw him push him down to his face busted his nose n face all that no good cops let them go after no arrested was not arrested either also in front of my grandson babies and my oldest grandson recorded it it’s on YouTube Gilroy police brutality this cops who do they think they are we can’t be safe in this town

  8. I think every one needs to stop making my cousin a bad person cause he wasent. The police killed him and every one who knew him knows that.

  9. Well regaurdless of what they label Juarez he was a human being.it’s not like he threatened the police.he didn’t have any weapons.see the thing with poeple now days is that no one has compassion in there heart’s anymore.the Gilroy police department is wrong for what they did.who ever replys negitive to this comment go ahead say what you want it’s your opinion.Stevie’s mother has a voice and it shall be heard give her that much she lost her son..gpd really needed that many officers to apprehend one person..no

  10. Why is everyone blaming the police? It’s not like they were jumping on the roofs! And why is it that people run as soon as they see the police, if you are not doing nothing wrong no reason to run, and if the police would’ve jumped the roofs then that would of meant that they pushed him off right??? Come on everybody you need to take a look at the situation, when I was growing up my brothers did drugs and my mother would always blame the police, it wasn’t the police doing the drugs but yet they were the bad guys! I wish you would all get out of denial and except the FACT for what it is DRUGS and DENIAL are the killers, the longer you go around in denial and pointing fingers at other’s or at the POLICE OFFICERS the more our younger generations will grow up and do the same thing over and over how about you stop get your heads out of your A__ __!! And start breaking these generational myths and start giving our kids a chance at the real life, and maybe they have a chance to grow up right and become Police Officers instead of worthless druggie gang members!! grow up give life a chance get out of your denial trip, start a life for the young ones will learn from this and not point fingers at the police, after all when in need do we call a gang member or the police!!???

Leave your comments