Lone Star Legacies of Murder: Justice for Johnny Hernandez
The Southwest Political Report
By: Irene Sanchez
There is no justice in this land. A video has surfaced of the slaying of a Mexican man in Texas this past week and these killers of Johnny Hernandez still walk free. Johnny was strangled and the life was taken from his body in front of his wife and three year old daughter. Terry Thompson choked Johnny Hernandez and crushed his chest as his wife Harris County Sheriff Shauna Thompson pinned down his arm screaming “quit it” and “stay the fuck down.” Terry Thompson could be heard saying “do you want me to hit you again” as Johnny Hernandez struggled, legs kicking as he was crushed beneath the weight of his killers.
A woman who is now reported to be the daughter of the attackers appears on screen attempting to prevent the recording saying “its illegal to record” and an older man appears on the scene echoing her statement pointing to the killer Shauna Thompson saying “that lady’s a sheriff, if you continue, you will be arrested.”
The case was ruled a homicide on Tuesday June 6, 2017, it is set to go before a grand jury as reported by CBS affliate KHOU. Johnny was approached that night by Terry Thompson after Terry allegedly saw Johnny peeing outside a Denny’s restrauant and was angry that Johnny was peeing in public and didn’t want his daughter (who was the one saying to the bystander they couldn’t record) to witness it. Terry Thompson thought his daughter shouldn’t see a man peeing, but it was ok for her to witness a brutal killing instead that her mother and herself from the video seem to play a part of.
Johnny was killed in front of his own family for peeing outside at a Denny’s, but really Johnny was killed by the Thompson’s for being Mexican and this Wild Wild West mentality of taking the law into one’s own hands and particulary in this State of Texas is of grave concern in these times.
Brutality and cold blooded murder of Mexicans born on either side of the border is nothing new to the State of Texas. Sam Houston was a Mexican killer. Stephen Austin was a Mexican killer. George M. Dallas Vice President to the James Polk was a Mexican killer.
The killing of Mexicans was normalized and formalized with the founding of the Texas Rangers. There are few states that seamlessly combine as many of this country’s murderous strains and still living brutal histories than that of the Lone Star Republic. It wasn’t until 2016 that the State of Texas recognized the brutal murders of hundreds if not thousands of Mexicans during the period post the Mexican Revoulution according to The Texas Standard article that highlighted this period of state-sanction violence. In this article two people are highlighted who have a project that documents this history titled Refusing to Forget . This project now consists of multiple academics who have documented this time period between 1910-1920 as a period described as:
“Far from being surreptitious, the violence was welcomed, celebrated, and even instigated at the highest levels of society and government. As thousands fled to Mexico and decapitated bodies floated down the Rio Grande, one Texas paper spoke of “a serious surplus population that needs eliminating.” Prominent politicians proposed putting all those of Mexican descent into “concentration camps” – and killing any who refused. For a decade, people would come across skeletons in the south Texas brush, marked with execution-style bullet holes in the backs of their skulls”.
According to Refusing to Forget, lynching of Mexicans by the Texas Rangers was commonplace and the dead bodies of Mexicans would be openly left on display for months. One particular Ranger, Ranger Ransom was responsible for brutal killings including ones where he casually shot Mexicans while riding horses. Ranger Ransom also had a “habit” of running Mexicans off their land and out of their homes.
This is domestic terrorism and it continues today and we can not allow it to anymore.
Fast forward to 2017, where Johnny Hernandez has been killed and in this age of social media we all witnessed it. It is a dead body on open display. It is domestic terrorism that is a continuation of state-sanctioned violence that the Texas Rangers who are now reported to be involved with the investigation are apart of a long legacy of brutality and violence against Mexican people. As the family members and friends of Johnny Hernandez gathered and marched in Houston Wednesday, June 7, 2017 to demand #justiceforjohnny one has to wonder when will this legacy of violence be the thing that dies instead of our people.
Photo: University of North Texas