Monday & Tuesday at Stockton courthouse - Family, clergy, UFW president at two-day vigil protesting plea deal in death of teen farm worker
Monday & Tuesday at Stockton courthouse Family, clergy, UFW president at two-day vigil protesting plea deal in death of teen farm worker
Stockton, Calif.—A two-day vigil begins Monday at the entrance of the San Joaquin County Courthouse in Stockton to protest a proposed plea bargain for criminal defendants responsible for the 2008 heat death of 17-year old farm worker Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez. Family of the victim will join clergy and United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez at the vigil that will go from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both Monday and Tuesday.
A tribute to Maria Isabel takes place at 12 noon on Monday as part of an effort to convince Superior Court Judge Michael Garrigan and District Attorney James Willet to reject a plea deal for two defendants who caused the death of the pregnant young farm worker. The plea bargain would let the defendants—Maria De Los Angeles Colunga, owner of the now defunct Merced Farm Labor Contractors, and her brother, Elias Armenta—escape any jail time in exchange for probation and community service, and could set the precedent that farm workers’ lives do not matter, vigil organizers say. A sentencing hearing is set for Wednesday, March 9.
On May 14, 2008, Maria Isabel collapsed after working in the blazing sun for nine hours without accessible water or shade at a Farmington-area vineyard. Instead of summoning medical aid, Merced Farm Labor Contractors told the girl’s fiancé and father of her unborn child to take her to a clinic in Lodi. By then, her core temperature was 108 degrees on a day when the state work safety agency issued a heat-danger warning to employers. She died two days later. The contracting firm was fined for similar violations of the state heat regulation. UFW members are organizing other events and vigils throughout California, Oregon and Washington state (list of cities attached).
WHO: Family of dead teen farm worker, UFW President Arturo Rodriguez, clergy, supporters.
WHAT: Two-day vigil and tribute to Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez urging San Joaquin County Superior Court judge and DA to refuse a plea bargain for two defendants in the criminal case.
WHEN: Vigil Monday and Tuesday, March 7 & 8, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; tribute 12 noon to1 p.m.
WHERE: Entrance of San Joaquin County Courthouse, 222 E. Weber Ave., Stockton 95202.