Merced was one of 43 cities to stage peaceful protests Wednesday in a show of solidarity with 43 students who disappeared in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, in September.
About 50 local students and residents stood outside the Merced County Administrative Building on M Street in the late afternoon, holding signs that asked for justice and an end to the war on drugs.
According to reports, local police kidnapped 43 students from the Rural Teachers’ College Raul Isidro Burgos near Ayotzinapa on the evening of Sept. 27. The students have not been seen since. Each city represented one of the students. Merced protested in representation of 19-year-old Abel García Hernández.
UC Merced professor and organizer Tanya Golash-Boza said the purpose of the protests was to draw media attention to the disappearance of the Mexican students and to stop U.S. military aid to Mexico.
Golash-Boza compared the incident to this year’s protests and demonstrations in Venezuela. Although Mexico is closer to the U.S., the disappearance of the students and the massive uprisings in response haven’t received as much media coverage, Golash-Boza said. She believes that is because the U.S. government is more critical of the Venezuelan regime.
Golash-Boza explained Merced took part in the statewide protest because of its large Latino population and it’s a county deeply affected by the war on drugs.
Protesters also used the occasion to stand in solidarity with the people of Ferguson, Mo., who are demanding accountability for the death of Michael Brown. Both are related because of the police violence and corruption, organizers said.
Similar demonstrations have taken place in other U.S. cities including, Berkeley, Philadelphia and New York City.