Here’s what we know:
Antonio Arce was 14 years old, and he had his entire life ahead of him.
On January 15th, responding to a 911 call reporting a suspected burglary in progress, Officer Jaen arrived on the scene and spotted Antonio in a truck that was allegedly being burglarized. In less than two minutes of body cam footage, a tragic scene unfolded.
According to released body cam footage, the only word Officer Jaen uttered was “Hey!” before Antonio ran away in fear, and Officer Jaen opened fire. A bullet struck Antonio in his back. Jaen then radioed that Antonio had a handgun, which police have now claimed was an airsoft gun, a bb gun, which bears a bright orange tip showing it to be a nonlethal weapon.
Antonio was taken to the hospital where he died, but his family was not notified for another 10 hours. His parents never got the chance to say goodbye.
That’s what we know.
But that’s not all we know.
Because, sadly, Antonio’s story isn’t an isolated incident. It joins a deeply disturbing pattern of similar tragedies in this country of black and Latino youth who have been fatally shot by police officers despite posing no imminent risk to those officers. And each time it happens, we are left to pray that justice be served.
Let me be clear: I want justice for Antonio.
But I want that justice to have protected him in the moments before this encounter. I want that justice to have stopped him from being fatally shot. We can’t just demand justice now. We have to ensure justice then.
Why was the officer on the scene for such a short period of time before opening fire? Why was lethal force used at all when Antonio didn’t present a threat? Why wasn’t protocol followed in notifying his parents immediately after the shooting?
If you’re in the area, I hope you will join them. If not, please join our petition in support of this movement. For more on how you can support Antonio’s family and honor his memory, please go to: https://www.gofundme.com/6qflr1c
Let’s demand Justice for Antonio, but let us also remember that justice is a verb. It’s not something we have the right to wish for in retrospect unless we do the hard work of committing ourselves to guaranteeing it in real time.
That requires us to confront the hard-to-face but harder-to-ignore truth that just a week after Antonio was killed, police in Florida managed to take into custody a young white man who had just murdered five women in a bank. The shooter was armed at the time of the arrest, was wearing a bulletproof vest, had earlier admitted to committing the crime. He is alive today.
This is how unconscious bias works.
It creates a two-tiered justice system. The result is that too often, the metrics for things like “safety” and “justice” for white Americans are the very things that deprive folks of color of the protection of those same concepts. We need to reimagine our justice system so that it truly works for all people. As President, I will work to do just that.
If elected, I will work with Congress to ensure funding so that every single law enforcement officer who patrols our streets wears a body camera. I will also use my executive power to target unconscious racial biases in policing and increasing accountability of law enforcement officials. This will include executive actions aimed at demanding immediate data collection on use of force by law enforcement, strengthening and increasing enforcement of federal protections against discriminatory policing, and directing increased resources to unconscious bias awareness trainings. I will create an office within the Department of Justice specifically dedicated to addressing discriminatory policing and strengthening the relationship between communities and law enforcement so that safety and justice are guaranteed to all people, no matter who you are, or where you come from.
Antonio deserved better. Antonio deserves justice now. Antonio deserved justice then.
Together, we can make sure he and many more like him get it.
Support Justice for Antonio
Sign our petition in support of Justice for Antonio, and a justice system that treats all people equally.