Sunday, October 5, 2008

Tohono O'odham family struggling to survive plans murder charge against US Border Patrol

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

SELLS, Arizona – The Tohono O'odham mother of a teenager who was ran and over and killed by the US Border Patrol made a plea for help so she can continue to pursue a court case and charge the Border Patrol agent with murder.
Bennett Patricio, Jr., 18, was ran over and killed during the dawn hours in a remote area of the Tohono O'odham Nation in 2002.
Although the family's civil case reached the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the family was abandoned by their attorney.
Angelita Reino Ramon, Patricio’s mother, made an appeal for help on Sunday.
“We sold all our furniture, our truck and our car, so we could get to San Francisco and the Ninth Circuit Court," Angelita told Censored News.
“We are in a very desperate situation, we’re needing financial help. We desperately need a vehicle for our children to get to school and so that we can go shopping for food. We need a car to look for jobs. No one wants to help us. We are in a really difficult situation,” Ramon said.
“We’re looking for someone who can help us with Bennett Patricio, Jr.'s case. We want to take it back to court in Tucson and file a murder charge. We need a lawyer who isn’t afraid of the government and will stick with it all the way through.
"Our attorney stole the money from us, our fear is now, ‘Who can we trust ?’”
When the civil case reached the Ninth Circuit, the family prepared the case themselves and sold everything to travel to San Francisco in the fight for their son's justice. When they arrived in San Francisco, the people who had promised to help them failed to do so.
“We thought people would help us when we got to San Francisco, but they didn’t help us, even though they invited us to come and offered to help us there.”
When they became desperate in the Bay Area, the late Floyd Westerman did help them. The students at DQ University also helped them and eventually the family made it back home to the Tohono O'odham Nation.
“Thanks to them, and the Aztecs in San Jose also helped us with gas.”
Now, the family is without a vehicle and an attorney.
Sometimes, there is just too much pain and sorrow, the memories too painful.
Patricio was walking home across the desert in the predawn hours of April 9, 2002, when he was ran over and killed by a border patrol officer in a remote area, south of Sells near the international border.
US Border Patrol Agent Cody Rouse struck Bennett Patricio and dragged his body at least 50 feet before stopping. When the agent called in to report the incident, Rouse simply claimed there was a body on the side of the road. Initially, Rouse did not admit that he struck Patricio. Later, in a series of conflicting stories, the US Border Patrol claimed that it was an accident.
Based on the evidence, Ramon and her husband, Irvin Ramon, believe that Patricio was walking home through the desert and happened upon an illegal transfer of drugs being carried out by US Border Patrol agents. Ramon believes as her son walked away, into the darkness, that he was intentionally ran over and killed by border patrol agents.
After she was told that her son was killed, she waited for an apology for her son's death from the Border Patrol. The apology never came. Neither did help or support. The Tohono O’odham Nation would not provide funds, nor an attorney, in the family’s fight for justice.
“I'm here to let everyone know about the Border Patrol and how they killed my son,” Angelita said, speaking to the Indigenous Peoples Border Summit of the Americas in San Xavier, Arizona, in 2006.
She said no mother should ever have to identify the body of their child crushed from his head to his feet. Shouldering this sorrow, she has persevered with little or no support and even endured hostility toward her, because she pursued justice for her son in federal court.
Now desperate, Ramon appealed for help for her and her family. She can be reached at:
Angelita Reino Ramon, PO Box 1082, Sells, Arizona 85634

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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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