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Protesters in San Luis Call To Defund The Police, Stop Building Border Fence

About three dozen residents and activists from throughout Yuma County and Arizona marched down Main Street in San Luis calling to defund and abolish the police and the U.S. Border Patrol.

Thursday's march came a week after peacefule protests in Yuma and ongoing protests around the world in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.  The protest in San Luis was scheduled to coincide with a reported visit by President Donald Trump to the border fence near Yuma. Trump, however, was in Dallas on Thursday to discuss race relations and policing before a $10 million fundraising dinner.

Protesters in San Luis marched to the border as police closed off streets to traffic. Among the demands addressed by protesters were the end of the construction of the border fence and defunding the police and Border Patrol.

Nathalie Hernandez Barahona was one of the protesters.

“When we say 'Defund The Police', we mean let’s take the money local government gives them and let's reinvest that in the community, especially in Black and brown communities,” she said.

The protestors had hoped to oppose Trump's visit, which was reported by The Washington Post and Univision, though neither Trump nor The White House ever officially announced a visit.  The group still met in San Luis, addressing many issues they say negatively impacts communities of color, including excessive use of force by some police officers and Border Patrol agents, mistreatment and even sexual abuse by some BP agents and sexual abuse and drug use in local high schools.

Protestors also called for justice for Jordan Stevens, a Somerton man who died in February 2017 while he was in custody at the Yuma Adult Detention Center.  Officials with the Yuma County Sheriff's Office say Stevens was found unresponsive in his holding cell after a struggle with him where an electronic control device was used when he became physically aggressive with them.  The Yuma Sun reports Steven's mother, Cocopah Tribal member Winona Stevens, says a Yuma police officer struck her son with a closed fist, which caused him to suffer brain damage due to blunt force trauma.

On Thursday, San Luis police officers and Customs and Border Protection agents did speak with protesters briefly regarding logistics for their protest but there were no reported incidents or arrests.  The protesters wore face coverings and practiced social distancing.

Victor is originally from West Sacramento, California and has lived in Arizona for more than five years. He began his print journalism career in 2004 following his graduation from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. Victor has been a reporter for the following daily newspapers: The Monterey County Herald, The Salinas Californian and the Reno Gazette-Journal, where he covered stories including agriculture, education and Latino community news. Victor has also served as a local editor for Patch, a national news organization with hyperlocal websites, in Carmichael, California in the Sacramento area. He also served as the editor for The New Vision, the newspaper for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, which includes Yuma and La Paz counties. Victor lives in Somerton. He enjoys spending time with his family and friends and following most sports.
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