Thursday, May 31, 2007

Garifuna man gunned down in Bronx USA

victim Ancestor Fermin Arzu

Various leaders of New York City’ Garifuna Community, met last Friday to discuss the death of their fellow countryman Fermin Arzu, 41, who was fatally shot by Officer Raphael Lora on Friday night, May 18th.

The leaders in attendance approved a resolution condemning the killing and demanding a full investigation into the matter. “We are not going to tolerate the abuse of our brother’s civil and human rights, while we express our deepest sympathy and support to the Arzu family,” said Mirtha Colon, president of Hondurans Against AIDS, organizer of the meeting. According to published reports, police sources say Officer Raphael Lora thought Arzu was going for a weapon in his glove compartment, but no gun was found. Police say Lora fired five times, striking Arzu once in the back and piercing his heart.

Mr. Arzu – a father of six originally from the Garifuna village of Tornabe in his native Honduras, was a building porter and musician, who has been described as a responsible, hard-working man who never had problems with the police, and who was under the emotional stress of caring for his fiancé, whom he had picked up from Bronx Lebanon hospital, just a few hours earlier, where she had undergone a mastectomy. According to Celso Castro, “We cannot afford to let the media discredit an honest man’s memory and we stand in solidarity with his family.”

The Garifuna community is outraged as to why an unarmed man had to be gunned down rather than recording his license plate and fine him for the alleged traffic violation. This is a senseless killing by someone who’s supposed to protect the community.

Despite many positive contributions to the social and economic fiber of New York City , Garifunas have remained outsiders with no influence on the important political processes of New York City . They had been, in a word, “invisible”. Although Garifunas have been migrating to the United States in search of a better life since the 1930s, the community was virtually obscured in New York until the Happy Land Social Club fire. Fifty nine of the Happy Land victims were Hondurans. More than 70 percent of the Honduran victims were also of Garifuna descent. An estimated 200,000 live in the South Bronx, Brownsville and East New York of Brooklyn, and on Manhattan 's Upper West Side . “We are not going to remain silenced about the death of our brother Fermin and we will rally along other community organizations to make sure that justice prevails,” said Rejil Solis, president of the Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc.

The shooting shocked the city and brought back memories of the deaths in other high-profile police shootings - in particular, the death of Amadou Diallo, an African man killed after police fired 41 shots at him in 1999 and more recently, Sean Bell who was killed after police officers fired 50 bullets into his car, wounding 2 of his friends. All three men were black and all were unarmed.

The shooting of an innocent Garifuna man has ignited interest from our community to work in pressuring the authorities to get some answers. Jerry Castro, executive director of the Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc.

The consensus of the Garifuna leaders at the meeting was that they will persevere in seeking justice for the death of their fellow man Fermin Arzu, while making sure that their community will not be ignored ever again.

Organizations in attendance

Castro Family Foundation

Centro America Show


Garifuna Coalition, USa, Inc.

Garifuna Evangelical Church

Hamalali Wayunagu Dance Company

Hondurans Against AIDS, Inc.

International Honduran and Central American Parade Committee

Mujeres Garinagu en Marcha (MUGAMA)

New Horizon Investment Club

Comunidad Garifuna de Guatemala (COMARIGUA)

Comité de Apoyo al Bicentenario Garifuna + 10

Organización de Damas Limoneñas en Nueva York

Organización Pro-Mejoramiento de Bajamar

The Solis Mejia Family Foundation

Wabagari TV Show

Unficación Cultural Garifuna (UNCUGA)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

i lost a friend today!

Retired Cultural Officer-Ministry of Culture(T&T)