My name is Javier Perez and I was one of the many peaceful protesters who was attacked and arrested by the Long Beach Police Department on May 1, 2001. At school someone mentioned to me about a demonstration in Long Beach celebrating International Workers Day on May 1st. As an activist who supports human, animal, and environmental rights, I figured it would be another opportunity for me to participate in another demonstration. As it turns out the demonstration wasn't as peaceful as I would have liked.
When I arrived at the meeting point it was odd to have seen so many police officers in riot gear. With tanks, K9's, and guns the police were really intimidating. I figured that as long as everything is peaceful that there should be no problem. The moment the march began the police began to block us. Within a few minutes, the police surrounded us and began beating us with their batons with no provocation.
At that moment I decided that this demonstration is getting too violent and way out of hand and I decided to leave. It seemed that a few more activist had the same idea. So when we tried to escape the police that had us surrounded began pushing us back in and swinging their batons at us until we were all in a bunch. There was no way out. Then after a few minutes, the police began shooting at us with, which I was later told, rubber bullets and bean bags. As I ran with the rest of the group I was shot in the leg and did not stop hearing the multiple shots buzzing by my ear. Finally, they trapped us in a corner. I looked around to see if anyone was hurt and I saw someone spit a gob of blood. His whole cheek was swollen the size of a golf ball. Another girl was bleeding from her back. That was just the people around me. Who knows what other injuries occurred.
We all stayed crouched down in the corner, covering our faces to avoid being hit again. The police than approached us and told us that if we surrender peacefully we will only be charged with unlawful assembly, which was a lie since we were charged with all sorts of other so called "crimes." We agreed to surrender peacefully, but they still continued their brutality. Some activists were dragged out of the group on their stomach with their hands behind their back. One officer told another to stop doing that. Other activists had their arms twisted violently, as was the case for me, while the ties were applied. I felt this abuse was uncalled for.
For the first few days in jail I was on a hunger strike. I felt I did nothing wrong and I felt that my right to free speech was violated. When I figured I was not going to be let out soon, and that my hunger strike was not going to accomplish anything, I began eating. I am vegan, so there was very few things I could eat. Basically just bread, fruit and juice. Once in a while I was able to eat some beans and other vegetables.
After a rough few weeks in jail, I was offered a plea bargain. If I was to plead guilty to two out of the many charges, I would be sentenced to 30 days and be released on time served. I just wanted out so I agreed.
Just when I thought I was going home they told me the INS put a hold on me. The INS is so slow it took them a whole other week after my release date to pick me up. Then I had to wait another week at the INS detention facility, which is still a jail, for another week just so they could deport me.
It all happened so fast. My INS lawyer told me that I was supposed to be interviewed by an investigator within a few days after I arrive at the detention facility. They were to set a bail so I could fight my case outside of jail. After a week I did not see any investigator.
On the last day, all of the sudden they called my name. I thought that it was for my interview. I asked the officer what this was for and he said, "Your going to Mexico." I told him that there is something wrong and that my lawyer told me that I was supposed to get a bail set at the interview. He told me he knew nothing about my case and he put me in the holding tank for deportees.
Later, they pulled me out to sign a paper. I tried to explain my situation to the officer and he just told me in an aggressive tone to sign the paper. The officer then looked at another officer, and gave him a look, saying how stupid I was. As it turns out I signed a "voluntary deportation" paper. They wouldn't even explain it to me.
On June ? around 10pm, I was literally dropped off at the border with nothing but the clothes I had on and the few bucks I had when I was arrested.
It is as if I was given the death penalty. I came to the United States when I was 3 months old, I am 22 now and I don't have any family here in Mexico. How do they expect me to survive. I was raised in the US. I am proud of my culture, but realistically, I don't know Mexico. I don't understand how the US can do this to me. They ruined my future.
I was an honor student at Valley College and enrolled in a program that will increase my chance for acceptance to UCLA. I was planning to apply during the months of May and June for admission for the winter. It is not only me that is being affected. My mother and my younger sister are being affected emotionally financially. My mother works from 3:30am to 4:00pm. I gave her about 0 a month, which is basically my whole paycheck, to help support out home. Now, with an increasing phone bill from all the collect calls I have made from jail, there is a great financial burden on my mother. If my mother does not find another means of income she and my sister may have to move out.
My mother hired an Immigration lawyer and explained to me that there may still be hope. I have 2 options he says. One is to petition to return to the US which could take a year and cost 00. The other is to appeal the decision made and take it to the Supreme Court, which could take a few years and cost me ,000. He also said that there is some kind of July 8th deadline to begin the appeal. All this information was from my lawyers paralegal, so I don't know for sure what is true and what is not.