08.07.2016 - LETTER
Letter to His Excellency James Costos
We feel the deaths of Philando and Alton as though they had occurred within our own family
The gypsy community in Spain is deeply shaken after learning about the brutal manner in which two American police officers have killed two black citizens, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.
The images we have seen, which have been widely broadcast on social media sites, are truly horrifying. Philando Castile was just 32 years old and was shot dead by police officers who had stopped him because one of his tail lights was broken. There is a video, recorded and posted by his girlfriend, which shows the poor man dying while the officer continues to point his gun at him. The young woman’s comments to the officer are particularly striking. She says “Please, officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him. You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration”. And the worst thing, if it is possible for anything to be worse than taking a person’s life in such a cold manner, is that his daughter witnessed her father’s murder from the back seat of the car.
However, Mr. Ambassador, the coldness and wickedness the police displayed in the killing of Alton Stirling, the unfortunate 37 year-old black man who was selling CDs at the door of a supermarket, can only be compared to the most frightening scenes of a horror movie. Alton had already been subdued by two officers; two enormous, almost giant, officers who had him pinned to the ground. And at that moment, when the use of force was no longer necessary, the evil officer calmly removed his revolver from its holster and fired several shots that ended his life.
Although you are surely more than up-to-date on the situation, I invite you to watch this frightening short video that could not fail to move anyone with the slightest semblance of a conscience.
Mark Dayton, the governor of Minnesota, has confessed that these deaths have a distinctly racist element and that these citizens would still be alive if they were white.
We therefore ask you, Mr. Ambassador, to kindly convey our condolences and our solidarity with the families of the victims through the governors of the states of Minnesota (Philando Castile) and Louisiana (Alton Stirling).
Why we are particularly concerned by this tragedy
European gypsies feel as though these deaths had occurred within our own family. There are ten million gypsies currently living in Europe and a day rarely goes by where we are not victims of violent, racist attacks and on some occasions killed merely because we are gypsies. It is true that this violence does not manifest itself with the same intensity in all countries and in Spain, the memory of the attacks our parents suffered at the hands of the Guardia Civil is becoming distant. But we cannot help but shiver when we witness how those who give the appearance of guaranteeing our freedom and defending our rights abuse the uniform they wear and the powers that the rule of law has placed in their hands.
Many thanks, Mr. Ambassador, for attending to our request.
Juan de Dios Ramírez-Heredia
Vice-president of the International Romani Union
This English translation has been possible thanks to the PerMondo project: Free translation of website and documents for non-profit organisations. A project managed by Mondo Agit. Translator: Louisa Devine; Proofreader: Thomas McGuinn.