Saturday, December 2, 2017

Jury Acquits in Trump’s Favorite “Immigrant Crime” Case

After six days of deliberation, on November 30 a San Francisco jury acquitted Mexican immigrant José Inez García Zárate of murder and manslaughter charges in the July 2015 shooting death of Kate Steinle. Prosecutors said García Zarate (AKA Juan Francisco López-Sánchez and Francisco Sánchez) had purposely shot into a crowd of tourists, while the defense claimed the bullet, which hit Steinle on a ricochet, was fired accidentally. The jurors found the prosecution case open to reasonable doubt, although they convicted the defendant of felonious possession of a firearm.
José Inez García Zárate. Photo: Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle
President Trump and rightwing propagandists like Ann Coulter had tirelessly exploited Steinle’s death as an example of violent crime by undocumented immigrants against U.S. citizens—and as a justification for border walls, mass deportations, and a cutoff of funds to so-called “sanctuary cities.” Naturally, the president and his supporters tweeted furiously against the jury’s decision.

Sloppy media coverage of the case has tended to provide cover for Trump’s side. For example, there’s been almost no discussion of how a revolver fell into the hands of a homeless immigrant in San Francisco. An agent of the Bureau of Land Management had left the loaded weapon inside a car parked in a high-crime part of the city—a violation of BLM policy and an invitation to theft. It's not clear whether the BLM, an obscure federal agency, has disciplined the careless officer—or explained why its employees would ever need to carry arms.

Meanwhile, media outlets repeat endlessly that García Zarate had seven felony convictions and was deported five times. Sources rarely mention that four of the convictions involved drug possession and the remaining convictions were for illegal re-entry of the U.S. None of the convictions were for violent crimes, although Trump and others dishonestly called the immigrant violent. García Zarate seems to be a mentally disturbed person with a drug problem; at one point a federal court recommended sending him to a medical facility. And if anything, his record of deportations should make people question the wisdom of shipping immigrants out of the country as a way to stop crime. They can come back, and no amount of border security guarantees that they won’t. Wouldn’t it have been better to keep García Zarate here and try to deal with his drug issues?

Actually, what would happen if we provided drug addicts treatment instead of imprisonment, tried to rehabilitate foreign-born convicts instead of deporting them, and limited the number of irresponsible government employees roaming the streets heavily armed? Probably Kate Steinle would be alive today, along with many others, including a large number of the more than 59,000 who died of opioid overdoses last year.—TPOI editor 

Kate Steinle trial: Garcia Zarate acquitted in San Francisco pier killing

By Vivian Ho, San Francisco Chronicle
November 30, 2017
A jury handed a stunning acquittal on murder and manslaughter charges to a homeless undocumented immigrant whose arrest in the killing of Kate Steinle on a San Francisco Bay pier intensified a national debate over sanctuary laws.

In returning its verdict Thursday afternoon on the sixth day of deliberations, the Superior Court jury also pronounced Jose Ines Garcia Zarate not guilty of assault with a firearm, finding credence in defense attorneys’ argument that the shot that ricocheted off the concrete ground before piercing Steinle’s heart was an accident, with the gun discharging after the defendant stumbled upon it on the waterfront on July 1, 2015.[…]

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Trump Is Outraged an Undocumented Immigrant Just Got Acquitted of Murder
The president called the verdict "disgraceful" after making Kate Steinle's killing a centerpiece of his border wall proposal.

By Drew Schwartz, Vice
December 1, 2017
A murder case that helped fuel Donald Trump's call for a border wall ended in an acquittal on Thursday when a San Francisco jury found undocumented immigrant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate not guilty in the shooting death of 32-year-old Kate Steinle, the Washington Post reports.[…]

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Federal agent’s loaded gun, left unsecured in a car, killed Kate Steinle
So why is all the attention on an immigrant who was at the end of an unfortunate chain of events?

By Matt Gonzalez, 48 Hills (San Francisco)
July 21, 2017
Kate Steinle was killed two years ago in San Francisco after a gun stolen from a car was discharged on Pier 14, a popular tourist attraction. Homeless immigrant Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez handled a discarded bundle that contained the firearm, resulting in the unintentional shooting. A single bullet ricocheted off the ground, travelling 100 feet before striking Steinle.[…]

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The Scapegoating of Sanctuary Cities
San Francisco has become an anti-immigration punching bag in the wake of a grisly killing. But there’s little evidence that the city’s sanctuary law was to blame.

By Daniel Denvir, CityLab
July 9, 2015
An undocumented immigrant named Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez allegedly shot and killed Kathryn Steinle on San Francisco's Embarcadero last Wednesday. And it turns out that the city's Sheriff's Department had released Lopez-Sanchez earlier this year after refusing an Immigration and Customs Enforcement request to detain him—all to comply with a city policy protecting everyday undocumented immigrants from deportation.[...]

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