Is that *really* the only reason?

I’m coming to this post a little late (it was posted April 23rd) but I think it’s important to recognize and talk about. Entitled “Why the Jury Had No Trouble Convicting Angie Zapata’s Murderer,” the post asserts that many are worried that Allen Andrade, the man convicted of murderering trans Latina, Angie Zapata, might have his conviction over turned on appeal. The author then goes through a step-by-step legal analysis of why that won’t happen :

The Weld County District Attorney’s Office charged Andrade with first degree murder and a bias-motivated (i.e., “hate”) crime for bludgeoning Angie to death with a fire extinguisher that he found in her apartment. Before the trial began, however, his attorneys asked the judge to tell the jurors that they had the option of convicting Andrade of second degree murder, manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, instead of first degree murder. Much to my surprise, the judge agreed and instructed the jury on all four types of homicide as “lesser included offenses.” (A “lesser included offense” is a crime that contains some, but not all, of the elements of the greater charge, such that it’s impossible to commit the greater offense without also committing the lesser. As long as the evidence supports a conviction on the lesser offense, the Constitution requires that the jury be given the option to consider both the greater and the lesser offenses.)

It’s a good read, one that I recommend. I do have one problem with the essay however. The essay could’ve been much shorter–it could’ve boiled down to one word, actually.

Race.

Allen Andrade was Latino.

Now, before I go on, I have two things to say:
1. Andrade has no sympathy from me.
2. Two white men who kicked and beat a Latino man to death recently were cleared of all charges, even though they too, admitted to the crime.

And as Mamita shows us, killers of Latinos have a *history* of being let go, set free, not charged, openly congratulated.

At the same time however–Latinos also have a history of being targeted, often violently, by the police and court system.

So what do you get when there is no value of Latino life AND there is an active systematic structure of inequality and racism controlling the lives of Latinos?

You get a justice system that congratulates itself for imprisoning a Latino for a hate crime for killing a Latino while letting white men off for killing Latinos.

Nothing complicated about it, no need to go into detailed explanations about the legal system. Every day experiences leave us all knowing that there could be no other result. Not now, at least.

Which leaves those of us looking for meaningful change, radical change, asking what on earth can we do with this Catch 22 of irony we live in? And how on earth do we rejoice in “justice” when we know the racism that went into creating that “justice?”

Like I said, Andrade gets no sympathy from me. I hope he rots in hell. But I can not rest on the naive belief that the reason Andrade is going to rot in hell is because the case against him was so iron clad. There is a reason he is spending the rest of his life in prison and the men who killed Luis Ramierez aren’t.

And we can’t rest until that reason is resolved.

Post to Twitter

5 comments on “Is that *really* the only reason?
  1. Fucking brilliant connection Macha. We need to constantly evaluate what the justice we seek looks like for our community considering the way the (in)justice system is set up to work.

  2. Pingback: Fellows and growing and building and justice « Avowed Virago

  3. I was the transgender new media reporter covering the Angie Zapata Hate Crime Murder Trial for Pam’s House Blend. I don’t know enough to know about the crime about the two white men who killed a Latino man to comment on that trial, but I can tell you what the evidence was that convicted Allen Ray Andrade — Angie Zapata’s killer.

    - Angie Zapata had a Mocospace profile. Andrade was shown to have had an account there that he deleted, but before he deleted his account, his ex-girlfriend saw him looking through the bisexual pages.
    - A pink vibrator was found in Angie’s Zapata with ONLY Andrade’s DNA on it, but in an amount that only blood, semen, or lubrication from one’s anus could leave as much DNA material as was found. There was no blood or semen found on the pink vibrator.
    - Andrade made several phone calls from the jailhouse to an exgrlfriend, and these calls were recorded. In the calls he stated “Gay things must die.” and “It’s not like I went up to a schoolteacher and shot her in the head or … killed a law-abiding straight citizen.”

    Angie was transgender. Andrade’s defense team was using a “trans panic” defense, claiming that Angie deceived him about her transgender status, and that he killed her in a crime of passion when he learned she had male genitalia. The visibly all caucasion appearing jury just didn’t believe his defense team’s “trans panic” assertion.

    Neither did the judge. He was given the maximum sentence for both the first degree murder and the bias motivated crime convictions…In the end, with all four counts he was convicted of, he received life-without-parole plus an additional 60 years.

    I didn’t see any racism in the trial, or by the jury against the Latina, transgender victim, or the Latino murderer. Frankly, I expected to see some, but I didn’t.

    So, while I don’t know enough about the other trial to tell you whether jury bias was involved in the decision, I definitely didn’t see any hate bias in the Angie Zapata Hate Crime Murder Trial. If there was any, I believe it would have expected it to be manifested more against Angie for being latina and transgender rather than against Andrade for being male and Latino. I believe there’s more societal stigma attached to being transgender than being Latino, although both groups in my mind are significantly oppressed minority groups.

  4. Autumn,

    Gracias for coming here. I followed your coverage of the Andrade trial and am grateful for the excellent work you did.

    Pero I would respectfully say that just because you didn’t see it, didn’t mean that there was no racism at play against Angie, who was doubly victimized in the trial (as was her familia) or against Andrade. Look at what INCITE said.

    Also I think it’s dangerous territory to say that there‚Äôs more societal stigma attached to being transgender than being Latino. For mujeres like Angie and in the older case that you just wrote up, Gwen Araujo, the two aspects of identity can’t and shouldn’t be separated.

  5. Hi Autumn, First let me say that I really *really* appreciate all your coverage of the trail, it was so important and so necessary, but must have been so horrible for you to follow…thank you for doing that, people who cared wanted so desperatly to be there and you allowed for that to happen.

    In regards to your comments–I am well aware of all the specifics of the trail, I’ve been following it since it made news. What I’m talking about here is something that is more connected along the lines of what Incite! said in their statement: this trans hate of andrade didn’t happen in a vacuum–he didn’t just wake up one day and think to himself, hm. I hate all trans people. There was cultural and structural signals that made that hate ok–for example, it could have been a latino macho thing that made him think he had to hide signs of his “different” sexuality–and structural signals like “trans panic defense works” made him think he could get away with what he did.

    Racism, transphobia/hate, nativism, etc does not exist only within the confines of a trail. It means something that the first time transhate is prosecuted–the first time that the life of a trans person *means* something is when it is a Latino man that took that life.

    This is not the first iron clad case that prosecution has come up with in the case of trans hate murder. But there are so many LGBT activists who are acting as if it is–Andrade can’t get off on appeal because the case against him is so iron clad–Like the other cases against people who killed trans people weren’t? What made this case different? Was it really more “iron clad” than other cases? Or could the fact that we are sitting in the middle of one of the most potent anti-latino times since the 60′s, and the case took place in Colorado, where nativism is so virulent the democratic govenor of the state put prisoners in the fields so that she could kick out all the Latinos….the fact that the face of illegal immigration is a latino male….could that have had anything to do with it at all?

    You know?

    If people walk into a court thinking latino men are animals and inhuman…how hard would it be to consider a specific latino man an animal and inhuman enough to put away forever?

    Which again, I want to emphasize–I think that andrade *should* be in jail. I spare no sympathy for him, and I am not coming at this from the perspective that “oh, I feel so bad for him…”–rather instead, I come from this from the perspective that you can’t rely on racism to bring justice. And does justice really come when all the trans people who are now locked up with Andrade have to fear for their lives?

Comments are closed.