Last week, while demonstrations and marches for George Floyd spread nationwide and around the globe, Twitter was also flooded with the hashtags JusticeForGiovanni, prompting many to ask ‘who is Giovanni?’
On May 4th, 30-year-old Giovanni Lopez was detained by municipal police officers for allegedly not wearing a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Ixtlahuacán de los Membrillos, Jalisco, Mexico. The situation quickly escalated, resulting in Giovanni being beaten by a group of police officers.
As with the Floyd case, the entire incident was captured on video and then shared via social media.
Christian talked about the events that led to Giovanni’s deaths in an interview with Grupo Reforma, “There were seven other people in the
truck, but none of them was beaten like my brother,” Christian added.
“The police captain grabbed me by the neck and they (police officers) were hitting my brother (Giovanni López). I went back to my house and grabbed my phone and I started recording…the captain said to me, ‘I am going to kill you’.”
When his family arrived at the police station, officials directed them to the local hospital. When they arrived there, they found him dead. His family maintains that Giovanni died while in police custody, as a result of the injuries inflicted by the police officers.
The autopsy reports confirm that Giovanni died due to ‘blunt force trauma to his head.’
Adding to the outrage was Christian’s accusation that Eduardo Cervantes, Ixtlahuacán de los Membrillos’ mayor, offered the family $200,000 Mexican Pesos – roughly $9,267 USD – to not leak the video to the press or post to the internet.
When Giovanni’s family declined the offer, they started getting death threats from the municipality officials.
As protests asking for justice for Floyd have spread, so have the ones for Giovanni. Tens of thousands of Mexican citizens joined the movement against police brutality, in Giovanni’s name.
The larger protests, in Guadalajara and Mexico City, featured residents chanting El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido – The people united will never be defeated.
Many celebrities have also demanded justice for López through social media. These celebrities have supported the protests that sparked after Christian released the video exposing Mexican authorities.
Academy-award winning filmmaker, Guillermo Del Toro has supported the ongoing protests in Mexico and called out the local authorities, “Over a month has passed and still no answers, no arrests have been made. Is not an abuse of power. It’s a murder. The nonsense, and it’s absolutely crazy that a murder has been made in the name of a public health issue,” Del Toro tweeted last Thursday.
Actress Salma Hayek asked the Mexican government to hold the officers accountable for Giovanni’s death.
“We are asking to the Mexican Government justice for Giovanni and for all the people who have been affected by the corruption and brutality from members of the Mexican Police,” the actress wrote on an Instagram post.
The Mexican band, Molotov referenced their song “Gimme the Power,” in a post on Instagram along with an image, “Giovanni López was killed and tortured by the Police in Jalisco for not wearing a face mask. We are demanding justice for Giovanni.”
For his part, when Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was asked about López’s case he said that he will “not interfere with the case to avoid partisan conflicts.”
This came after Jalisco governor Enrique Alfaro accused Lopez Obrador of provoking the protests that quickly escalated in Guadalajara and resulted in police officers set on fire.
“I’m sorry about the recent events, I am always willing to solve the problems through dialogue, I am against any type of violence,” Lopez Obrador concluded.
However, the protests seem to have worked.
“We have arrested the first police officers. We (state officials) decided to take control over the municipal police of Ixtlahuacan de los Membrillos. Giovanni’s death will not go unpunished,” Governor Alfaro tweeted on Friday.