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#JusticeForJunior: 6 Facts On The Murder Of Lesandro Guzman-Feliz

Here's information gathered from the web on Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz and the suspects responsible for his death.

In a mind-numbing case of mistaken identity, a young boy's life was cut short in the hands of senseless violence. On a late Wednesday evening (June 20), Lesandro Guzman-Feliz was murdered by a group of men who claimed he was part of a video where an unidentified person was recorded having sex with one of the suspects' sister.

On surveillance footage caught outside of a deli in the Bronx's Belmont area, Guzman-Feliz, known as Junior, was dragged out of the store and slashed with a machete and other weaponry. Onlookers stood by as the suspects attacked and fled the scene. The 15-year-old walked himself to the nearby St. Barnabas Hospital where he collapsed and died.

Since his passing, memorials have taken form. Donations to a GoFundMe page to assist with funeral costs and other expenses has exceeded its initial $15,000 goal. Celebrities have also stepped in alongside community members to fight for justice for the slain teen who's been described as a "good kid."

With this tragic incident making national headlines, here's some information gathered from around the web on Guzman-Feliz and the suspects responsible for his death.

Read More: Family Receives Anonymous Apology In Brutal Slaying Of 15-Year-Old Bronx Teen

1. Junior's Career Goal Was To Become A Police Officer With The NYPD

According to the teen's mother, Leandra Feliz, her son began his dream of becoming a police officer by joining the NYPD's Explorers Program. The outlet mentors the city's youth, ages 14-20, and gives future NYPD members first-hand experience on what it's like to be part of the law enforcement conglomerate.

"He was one of the good kids in the Bronx," his mother said. "He has never been in any fight, never, in 15 years. He was innocent. He never grew up on the streets. He was with me all the time." Leandra Feliz added that Mayor Bill de Blasio has yet to reach out to the family.

2. Guzman-Feliz's Family Called For A Boycott Of The Deli Where He Was Murdered

Cruz and Chiky Grocery in the Bronx's Belmont area was the site of Guzman-Feliz's murder. Surveillance footage shows a few of the suspects followed the teen into the store (located on East 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue), and then dragged him out while employees stood by.

Guzman-Feliz's sister-in-law, Lone Feliz, said she could not understand why the store's "owners or employees or whoever is there" neglected to get the teen proper medical attention when he re-entered the store with multiple wounds. ABC 7 New York reports the family has now called for a boycott of the corner store. "They treated my son like he was a delinquent like they didn't know him," the teen's mother said. "Before the killer gets inside the store, my son was already hiding inside the store, and they killed him maybe already 30 seconds later."

3. NYPD Officials Received A "Torrent Of Tips" After The Story Gained Traction

As local law enforcement officials opened an investigation into identifying and arresting the five suspects (who're in custody now), Chief Dermot F. Shea shared that the department received a wave of beneficial tips from those offering help, The New York Times reports. Chief Shea believes people became "disgusted by what they saw" and decided to bring justice to Junior and his family.

On Monday morning (June 25), authorities located and arrested Kevin Alvarez, 19, who was charged with murder, manslaughter and other felonies. Alongside his detainment, the NYPD arrested six other men in connection to the killing: Manuel Rivera (18), Santiago Rodriguez (24), Danel Fernandez (21), Jose Taverez (21), Joniki Martinez (24), and Jose Munia (21).

Over the weekend (June 23-24), candles and flowers began to take residence on Bathgate Avenue. The store where the teen was killed also has memorabilia lined up outside. ABC 7 notes a funeral service will be held on Tuesday (June 26) at the R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home from 3-9 p.m. EST in the Bronx.

4. Reports Claim The Suspects Are Part Of The Trinitarios Gang

Since 1992, the Trinitarios solidified its deep roots in the Bronx, the New York Post reveals. Authorities believe the suspects were part of the gang and their weapon of choice is primarily a machete, which was used to injure and thus kill Guzman-Feliz. Trinitarios reportedly formed on Rikers Island and is known as the United States' "largest Dominican gang."

Members of the teen's family allegedly received text messages from a high-ranking gang member who apologized for the mistaken identity crime. "It wasn't supposed to be him," the text reads, per the Post. The news site also reports the Trinitarios may be connected to a non-fatal stabbing of a 14-year-old in the Bronx on Monday (June 18).

5. The Teen Girl In The Controversial Video Is In Police Protection

Recently (June 25), The New York Post published a story that states the teen girl seen in the controversial video is in police protection. She's received threats on various social media accounts since Guzman-Feliz's death, some pegging her as the cause of this incident. The 15-year-old was also a part of the NYPD Explorers program.

6. Celebrities Have Voiced Their Condolences And Given Their Support

Once the news hit the Internet, celebrities also joined the cause under the hashtag #JusticeForJunior. Power star LaLa and NBA player Carmelo Anthony visited Guzman-Feliz's family and offered financial support, sneakers, jerseys and a painted self-portrait of the Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health and Science Charter School student - he was a fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder player.

"I can't imagine this type of pain and sadness," LaLa wrote on Instagram. "His family is strong and may God bless them forever. Seeing his family smile when we walked through that door is something I will never forget." Cardi B, a fellow Bronx native, also donated $8,000 to the slain teen's GoFundMe page.

This is what I wanted to do for my birthday today. Thank you to the gram for connecting me to this family. I wanted to offer our love and support to Lesandro “Junior’s” family. His sister @__octobersveryown__ reached out and told me he loved Melo. So I asked Mel to go with me. I can’t imagine this type of pain and sadness. His family is strong and may God bless them forever. Seeing his family smile when we walked through that door is something I will never forget. Putting my arms around his mom is something I will never forget. Being in his room is something I will never forget. Pls go to his sister in laws page @c0co__amor to donate to this family. (& before it starts...we did more than bring jerseys and sneakers) just do what YOU can even if it’s $1.. this family will be in my heart forever #justiceforjunior #justiceforjunior

A post shared by ℒᎯ ℒᎯ (@lala) on

Read More: Cardi B Donates $8,000 To Slain Bronx Teen Junior Guzman-Feliz’s Family

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7.7. Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Jamaica, Cuba And Miami

A powerful earthquake struck in the Caribbean Sea on Tuesday (Jan. 28) triggering temporary tsunami warnings and tremors felt as far away as South Florida. The 7.7. magnitude quake hit the waters between Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman Islands, according to the United States Geological Survey and the International Tsunami Information Center.

The quake, which struck roughly 86 miles northwest off the coast of Montego Bay, Jamaica, resulted in multiple aftershocks including a a 6.1 tremor near the Cayman Island, and a 4.4 aftershock. “Light shaking” was also reported in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

“Despite the large size of the earthquake, the fact that it occurred offshore and away from high population areas lessened its societal impact,” the USGS said. The organization described the quake as “moderate shaking” in parts of Cuba and Jamaica.

The quake comes nearly a month after a 6.4. magnitude earthquake hit Puerto Rico, but the USGS said that the “seismic events” were unrelated.

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Black People Make Up More Than 50% Of U.S. Homeless Population, Study Finds

Black people in the U.S. are disproportionately impacted by homelessness, per an Annual Homeless Assessment Report released by the Housing and Urban Department. According to the report, blacks account for more than 50% of the country’s homeless population, despite making up only 13% of the U.S. population.

“African Americans have remained considerably overrepresented among the homeless population compared to the U.S. population,” the report states. “African Americans accounted for 40% of all people experiencing homelessness in 2019 and 52% of people experiencing homelessness as members of families with children.

“In contrast, 48% of all people experiencing homelessness were white, compared with 77% of the U.S. population.” People identifying as Hispanic or Latino are bout “22% of the homeless population but only 18% of the populations overall.”

As of 2019, the U.S. homeless population swelled to 568,000, an increase of about 10,000 from the previous year. In 2019, Roughly 35,000 of those experiencing unaccompanied homelessness were under the age of 25, a 4% decrease from 2018. The number of those experiencing chronic homelessness increased by 9% between 2018 and 2019.

A staggering 52% of black families experience homelessness, compared to 35% for white families.

The goal of the report is to “demonstrate continued progress toward ending homelessness, but also a need to re-calibrate policy to make future efforts more effective and aligned with the unique needs of different communities.”

HUD, which is has been releasing the annual housing stats since 2007, shows a 3% bump in the number of those experiencing homelessness on any given night, a 16% increase in California, and a “decrease” in other states. California accounts for 53% (108,432 people) off all unsheltered homeless people in the country. Despite being only twice as large as Florida, California’s homeless population is nine times that of the Sunshine State, which came in at a distant second place with 6% (12,476 people). New York, Hawaii, California, Oregon and Washington have the highest rates of homelessness per 10,000 people.

Numerous variables come into play when determining the origin of the black homeless epidemic due to a longstanding system of oppression in housing, and beyond. Black families are twice as  likely to experience poverty in the U.S., compared to white families; and in spite of laws against open discrimination, black renters face overt and covert financial and racial prejudice, in addition to gentrification and the racial pay gap.

On Jan. 7, HUD unveiled a housing proposal that attempts to undue Obama-era housing mandates put in place to prevent racial discrimination. The newly-released proposal may end up further promoting racial discrimination.

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Black Texas Teen Barred From Graduation Because Of His Dreadlocks

A black Texas teen was suspended and is barred from graduation because of his dreadlocks, NBC News reports. DeAndre Arnold, a senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, has to cut his hair if he wants to walk the graduation stage.

DeAndre, whose family hales from Trinidad, has had locks for several years, gets A’s and B’s in school, and wears his hair in compliance with the school’s dress code, his mother, Sandy Arnold, told Houston’s NBC affiliate KPRC. “The dress code is [hair] off the shoulders above the earlobes and out of the eyes,” she explained.

The school district allegedly changed the dress code around Christmas of last year. According to the latest Barbers Hill Student Handbook, hair must be “clean and well groomed.” Students are not allowed to cover their heads, dye their hair, or wear “geometric or unusual patterns (such as Mohawks and Faux hawks) shaved or cut in the hair.” For male students, hair can’t fall below the eyebrows or earlobes and must not extend “below the top of a T-shirt collar.”Beards, goatees and mustaches are also not allowed.

DeAndre’s mother said that she reached out to board members and the superintendent to rectify the issue but with no luck.

“They say that even [when] my hair is up if it were down it would be not in compliance with the dress code. However, I don’t take it down in school,” said DeAndre.

The teen proudly rock his dreadlocks because the hairstyle connects him to Trinidadian culture. “I really like that part of Trinidadian culture. I really embrace that.”

Barbers Hill Independent School District released a statement noting that the district enforces a “community supported hair length policy” that has been in place “for decades.” The statement adds, “Barber Hill is a state leader with high expectations in all areas!”

The teenager's story is similar to that of a 6-year-old boy in Texas whose school also wanted him to cut off his dreadlocks. DeAndre's mother said her son won’t be getting a hair cut. “This is a pat of who he is. So [we're] absolutely not going to cut his hair.”

See more in the video above.

 

 

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