Anniversary of Man Shot by Bakersfield Police While Holding a Crucifix Highlights Needed Change in Deadly District

Click this flyer to see the Facebook event where the action is being coordinated

PRESS ADVISORY - Nov. 29, 2017

Contact: Tania Unzueta, Mijente, 773-387-3186, tania@mijente.net; Josth Stenner, Faith in the Valley, 661-858-3577, josth@faithinthevalley.org; John Garcia, 212-739-7513, 917-673-9095, jgarcia@latinojustice.org

The death of 73-year old man in "America's deadliest police district" highlights that a disproportionate majority of police shootings are of Latinxs and has brought neighbors together to take action.

WHAT National press conference call with the family of Francisco Serna and community members marking the one-year anniversary of his death. The press conference will take place ahead of a local community vigil on Saturday, highlighting the high number of deaths by Kern County police and the lack of accountability by the local government. Speakers will also address the role of the Latinx community, nationally and locally, in responding to issues of police violence and criminalization.

WHEN: Thursday, November 30, 2017, at 11:30 AM PST/ 2:30 PM EST

WHERE: News media can join via conference call by dialing 646-558-8656, Code: 283-204-7223

WHO: Laura Serna, daughter of Francisco Serna; Jacinta Gonzalez, National Field Director of Mijente, Juan Cartagena, from President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF; and Josth Stenner with Kern-County based organization Faith in the Valley.

WHY: In 2015 the Police Department of Kern County, California, was declared the “America’s deadliest police.” Since 2013, 65% of those shot and killed by Bakersfield Police are Latinos, even though Latinos only make 45% of the City, according to a recent ACLU Report. Yet even today, the same police officers who have been investigated and accused of civil rights violations, continue to be in the force.

One year ago, weeks before States Attorney Kamala Harris announced an investigation into the department, a Bakersfield police officer shot and killed 73-year old Francisco Serna. Serna’s case made national headlines because he was unarmed, was carrying a plastic crucifix, and suffered from dementia.

His family, particularly his daughter Laura Serna, have become advocates for increasing accountability for police violence and addressing the high number of Latinx deaths in the County. “One year after my father’s death we remember him by honoring all of our loved ones who are victims of police. We will talk about them, humanize them, remember what they loved, stated Serna. “We turn something negative into positive, by making sure that we are organized, connected, and fighting for safer neighborhoods for all of our families, that are free of criminalization and police violence,” she concluded.

With the support of Faith in the Valley, and national organizations, Mijente and LatinoJustice PRLDF, their case is also a national example of how Latinxs are impacted by and responding to issues of police violence.

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LatinoJustice PRLDEF champions an equitable society. Using the power of the law together with advocacy and education, LatinoJustice PRLDEF protects opportunities for all Latinos to succeed in school and work, fulfill their dreams, and sustain their families and communities. www.latinojustice.org

Faith in the Valley is a regional, multi-faith, grassroots organizing network of over 120 congregations across the Central Valley. Our mission is to unlock the power of people to put faith into action, and to advance a movement for racial justice and health equity. We seek to build relational power, lift up a new narrative about the lives of people of color, and drive civic engagement efforts that move our community's’ priorities forward. www.faithinthevalley.org

Mijente is a digital and grassroots hub for Latinx and Chicanx movement building and organizing. Mijente seeks to increase the profile of policy issues that matter to our communities and increase the participation of Latinx and Chicanx people in the broader movements for racial, economic, climate and gender justice. www.mijente.net

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