On July 5, 2017, Jonathon Coronel, 24, was brutally shot and killed by Vista Police Department Sheriff Chris Villanueva near San Diego. A year prior to Coronel’s death, Villanueva killed another unarmed Latino community member named Sergio Weick on August 11, 2016. Villanueva has not been reprimanded for his violence and is still a Vista PD officer. The court ruled that Villanueva’s case was justified, and he was absolved of his crimes.
On July 6, over 90 community members gathered in a Wendy’s parking lot off of Vista Way to stand up against police brutality and commemorate the life of Jonathon Coronel and other victims of police violence. The event was organized by family members of Jonathon Coronel and others directly affected by police brutality.
The event began with family members of victims sharing their stories and thoughts on the police. The first speaker was Coronel’s cousinl and main organizer of the event, Rocio Zamora. Zamora told how his cousin was unjustly killed by police—yet the officer who shot him still walks free. Zamora then passed the megaphone to the father of Alfred Olango, a young Black man fatally shot and murdered by police in El Cajon in 2016. Alfred’s father, Richard Olango, asserted that police officers are not trained to protect, but instead are trained to kill. He gave an impassioned speech on the militarization of the police, emphasizing the violent nature of their very existence. At the end of his speech he called for a change in police operation and training.
The third speaker was the niece of Raul Rivera, who was also shot and killed in San Diego by the police. She highlighted the inherent racism within the system of policing, explaining how the police are not a force meant to protect Black and Brown people. The last person to speak was a young man named Jordan, who shared his story of how just a few weeks prior to the march, he was brutalized by the police in his home. Jordan called on the community to support him when he has his court date in August, and stressed the importance of collective action.
Organizers began the march wearing shirts covered in fake blood. Once the march reached its destination, those with blood stained shirts lined up to carry out a die-in. Cars drove by, honking in solidarity with those standing up against police violence. It was an emotional moment as all of the marchers gave a moment of silence for Jonathon Coronel and others victimized at the hands of police.
With each unjust killing of a Black and Brown person, it becomes increasingly imperative that an end is put to the horrific violence inflicted by the police. The people of Vista want justice, and they will not stop until they get what is rightfully theirs.