Dying for a better life, and suddenly a violent death

What a maligned lot those Central American immigrants to the US. As the saying would go: But for luck there go I? For many, at great personal sacrifice many of their dreams fulfilled; for most, dreams frustrated, and wretched lives do often ensue. Which brings us to those on the streets whose existence we barely notice, despite their increasing prevalence: the homeless, the vagrant.

And that brings us to the brief life, and sudden, brutal death of a Central American immigrant to the US, in the city of San Francisco. The Guardian, which has focused attention on a problem ignored by most US media, that of deaths of US citizens occasioned by its police, now turns its attention to ‘the invisible’ on the streets of the US. Its story, The life and death of Luis Góngora: the police killing nobody noticed,  is compelling and recommends re-telling. A sample, its dramatic start, to the brief life and violent death of a young Mayan from the village of Teabo in the Yucatán, Mexico.

The man walked down the sidewalk, the blade of a kitchen knife glinting in his hand.

He had taken a break from playing soccer with an old basketball on the tree-lined street in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Now he sat on the ground, his back against a building. Three pedestrians passed by, walking at a steady pace, apparently unperturbed.

“Get on the ground! Get on the ground!”

Two police cruisers had pulled to a stop, blocking the street.

Sergeant Nate Seger and officer Mike Mellone had stepped out of their cars, shouting as they walked toward the man.

A life of struggle and sacrifice so that others would avoid such a path ends in a hail of bullets. The actions of some civil activists and now an article in The Guardian put on display the insignificance of human life to highly militarised police forces in the US, police forces conditioned to see the citizen, especially the vulnerable, as ‘the enemy’. The concept of ‘protect and serve’, if applied this once, would have revealed a well-meaning human being overwhelmed by his own limitations and the helplessness of those caring but unable to help and, worse, feeble social support systems among the worst in the ‘civilised’ world.

So that we better appreciate that old saying, ‘Walk a mile in my shoes.’ Or, even, ‘There but for the grace…’, The Guardian reinforces the point with a video presentation, Luis Góngora, a homeless man, is shot by police in San Francisco – video.

And on the topic of immigrants and refugees, that the corporate US media are often absent in such coverage has more to do with maintaining the fiction of a caring US that welcomes all – even as one US presidential candidate threatens vulgarly to do what the current administration is already doing and more inhumanely. TeleSUR reports, Detained Immigrant Moms Strike to ‘Get Out Dead or Alive’ Just one recent of many a tragic tale of the horrors and humiliation inflicted on desperate and vulnerable immigrants especially by a US president (and his administration) whose rhetoric belies a cruel reality for which he and his predecessors bear direct responsibility.

Life does come across as cruel, and stingy with those pleasant surprises (or good fortune) for those most in need of such. In such situations that is where the role of government and its support mechanisms is to assist or facilitate opportunity, a role increasingly undermined and diminished by special interests.


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