SOL | BSeedz has been supporting and working alongside the family of Jessie Hernandez since the fatal incident in January 2015. We have come together with the larger community to put pressure on the city to hold Denver Police Department accountable for their lack of discipline and action towards to officers who were responsible for Jessie’s killing. Since their murder, our community which includes other families who have been impacted by police violence, have made specific demands in regards to police accountability, none of which have been adequately integrated into meaningful policies, practices, or culture.
In the press conference where the Denver City Attorney announced this proposal, they shared that the decision to settle came from the high levels of attention and response to the case, which means to us that overwhelmingly our communities viewed the officer’s actions as entirely unreasonable, unnecessary, and unjustifiable.
We will forever hold numerous questions about the details and efficacy of the proposed settlement. Within the settlement there are 4 non-monetary commitments and policy development suggestions that leave us eager to know how those will affect police accountability in the future.
For the family of Jessie Hernandez, who have had the beloved sunshine of their family taken from them by the cruel and unforgiving forces of systemic racism and colonization, there can be no justice. While holding in their hearts that they could never have back what has been stolen from them, the Hernandez’s demanded that the police officers be reprimanded for their actions in hopes that this would set a precedent for the future, that another family would never have to experience all they have been through.
It is 2017 and we know too well by now that families, especially poor, undocumented, refugee, and immigrant families, are intimidated into not pursuing their case because of high costs, fear and/or threats of further criminalization, and a pattern of police officers not being held accountable in this city and nation. While those police officers walk away untouched, we are left with broken hearts and unanswered questions: how can a settlement be representative of the justice our communities deserve?
At SOL | BSeedz we continue to recognize this as far from an isolated incident - Jessie’s death echoes the historical pattern and practice of violence that targets our communities and demonizes young people through racial and gender profiling, a particular lived experience for queer and trans youth of color daily. We have also witnessed the immeasurably profound effects of police brutality for individuals, families, and our communities as a whole.
Laura Rosales, mother of Jessie, shared with reporters yesterday at the press conference called by Denver City Attorney, “I know that we want peace, but I know we don’t have it. Because since she’s been away from home, it’s not the same. She was the sunshine of my home. I have other children, but she was my little sunshine and she illuminated the other children. And not just my children, other children, friends, the community. She was a nice person.”
Through the deepest of love, the family carries the immeasurable weight of emotional trauma, fragmented support systems, financial hardship and other impacts that leave survivor’s families like theirs frayed and tapped of most sources of energy.
Families who have survived their loved ones to police violence share a level of exhaustion and pain that is retriggered through the lengthy process of seeking healing and justice. The Hernandez’s are no different when it comes to the question- can this all be defined as true choice?
We know that settlements ensure prolonged silencing of impacted families through agreements that families will not continue to fight for the justice that they originally sought. Our community will continue work to ensure that DPD is in compliance with their agreements so that the family’s wish of another family never having to experience this kind of tragedy can be fulfilled. We will forever hold the narrative of who Jessie truly is. Our beloved LGBTQ community as well as our broader community continues our declaration to ensure that Jessie’s legacy lives on as a young and sacred ancestor to all of us.
May we all visit the site of Jessie’s last breath, often and contribute to uplifting the alleyway between Newport and 26th as a sacred site by leaving offerings, candles, and sacred medicine for our young ancestor.
May we continue towards the lifetime of ongoing and critical healing that will lead to ultimate and divine justice for Jessie’s life and family.
Siempre en la lucha,
On this day one year ago, Denver Police killed the beloved Jessie Hernandez after just turning 17 years old. Reviewing the police statements and news reports about what happened on this day only serves to remind us of the ways the police repeatedly modified their version of what happened while mainstream / for profit media served as a megaphone for the police department's iterations. The appalling coverage aimed to immediately blame Jessie for her own death. This media also contributed to the internalization of the negative messages that transmit into the community, young people, and especially those who share identities and experiences with Jessie. This is a death no mother, father, sibling, friend or community member should have to endure--violence by the officers with badges that absolve them and create an entire law enforcement culture of impunity.
It took days for the public to acknowledge and recognize Jessie as their fullest selves, as a queer and gender non-conforming Mexican@. Jessie’s whole story begins where all our stories are rooted, with our ancestors whose legacy and resilience against racism and colonialism lives within us. Jessie’s legacy lives within those who have been left behind to carry on their memory.
After a year of pain, hurt, resilience, and work to build up support for the Hernandez family, we are reminded yet again of the efforts of the City of Denver and its law enforcement agencies to treat the most policed communities as disposable. Jessie was the eldest sibling of their family and brought love and pride into their lives. They lived unapologetically.
We remember Jessie Hernandez. We remember every life DPD has abused the people in this city and our demands read:
Jessie, we serve you and all our relatives that live with you in spirit world as our ancestors. With our hearts open, we call on all to serve our deepest purposes, to liberate our people. State sanctioned genocide and violence ends in our generation. This is the will of our ancestors. Unite. Palabra. Axe.
Jessie Hernandez was a young queer Latin@ who was murdered by the Denver Police Department. On Monday, January 26th, Jessie Hernandez was in a car with four other young people in a Park Hill neighborhood alley. Media has reported that two officers from the Denver Police Department came to the spot where 17-year-old Jessie and her friends were reportedly in a stolen vehicle - the police used this as an excuse to fire towards the car full of young people, emptying an entire clip and ultimately killing Jessie. A video of the incident shows Jessie’s lifeless body laying face-down on the ground as the police handcuff Jessie and perform a search, while failing to provide any first-aid or display any care to avoid aggravating the fatal injuries. Witnesses describe watching Jessie’s body get dragged on the ground and as they pulled out a phone to capture the events the police yelled out “Don’t you dare!” Witnesses on the scene recall the cop shooting at Jessie through the driver’s side window before the rest of the shots were fired. The so-called reasons given by the police for this murder can never justify why Jessie is no longer with her family, friends, and community.
Buried Seedz of Resistance’s (BSEEDZ) legacy begins with our queer and trans ancestors that survived in order for us to be here today. In 2009, queer youth from all corners of Colorado gathered to create a community to mobilize effectively for and by queer youth. BSEEDZ formed as SOL (formerly CAVP) encouraged and followed youth leadership in the organization.
BSEEDZ was founded out of the need for spaces that center the experiences, leadership, expertise, and knowledge of queer and trans youth of color. Our space has always been youth-led and directed because no one can better tell our stories, manifest our healing and vision our solutions than us. By tapping into our creative practices, connecting with our own cultures and identities, we are able to tell a full story of what it means to exist in this world as queer, trans, gender non-conforming, two-spirit & multi-identity creatures.
Survivors Organizing for Liberation envisions a Colorado where Transgender, Gender non-conforming, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Queer people have the power to determine the conditions of their lives, are valued for who they are, take responsibility for each other's safety, and live their lives free from violence.
We seek to live in a society where all sexualities, gender expressions, and gender identities are embraced and celebrated as valuable identities that make our communities vibrant. SOL aspires to create a culture of liberation where people are inspired to heal the wounds of injustice and end the cycles that continue them.