Arturo Chavez Argueta hung himself in prison awaiting deportation after a severe beating, allegedly, by Texas police. Argueta was 17 years old.
During a routine stop for a minor traffic violation and League City Police discovered Arturo Chavez Argueta was driving with no license nor insurance and that he was undocumented. This is a common problem in the U.S. where even democratic candidates for president speak out against immigrants’ rights to hold a drivers license when they are undocumented. Many have licenses from their sending country and/or could qualify for a license if the laws were changed. With a license, they could also get insurance. Instead of thinking logically about these issues however, legislatures and the general public continue to blame immigrants for driving without either. (Granted, there are other modes of transportation and in non-rural areas there is clearly no excuse for driving without documentation.)
He was taken into custody and held for ICE. However, he was later admitted into hospital having been severely beaten in custody. The police have yet to offer an official explanation for what happened to him but it is unlikely he was beaten up by anyone in the holding cell, leaving only the police themselves as suspects.
Once released Argueta was remanded to Galveston County Jail where he took his own life. He expressed suicidal thoughts in the hospital (where they are mandated to do a risk assessment and take other precautions to prevent suicide) and again in custody. No one did anything to help him.
Like Ng before him, Argueta’s death was preventable.
Protesters gathered on Wed. Aug. 13 to demand an explanation for Argueta’s beating and subsequent death. They asked that the police responsible be held accountable and that procedures for suicide watch be followed.
Argueta was a 17 year old child, who in the course of a few days was beaten and left to die for being brown. He was not sent to a “detention facility” (which would have been little better) but to a police holding cell and then prison. His criminalization opened the door for a severe beating and exposure to other violence. In those short days, he was taught by the system that his life did not matter, that he was nothing. And so, desperate, 17 year old Arturo took his own life.
Please write to the League City Police Department expressing your concern over the death of Arturo Chavez Argueta and requesting that other immigrants receive humane treatment in their custody.
They can be reached at:League City Police Department
500 West Walker Street
League City, TX, 77573