Fresno State students, professors gather for Day of Action in death of 17-year old farm worker girl
Fresno, Calif.—Students, faculty and members of the community will gather at California State University, Fresno on Monday to e-mail their opposition, with the help of laptop computers, to a proposed plea bargain deal for criminal defendants responsible for the 2008 heat death of 17-year old farm worker Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez. The Day of Action will be held in the Free Speech Area of the Fresno State campus at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, March 7th.
The rally will start with a news conference followed by an entire day of sending e-mails to San Joaquin County District Attorney James Willet. The e-mails will oppose a plea deal for the defendants who ran a now-defunct farm labor contractor firm in case of the 17-year-old female farm worker who died of heat stroke. The plea bargain allowing defendants to escape any jail time could set the precedent that farm workers’ lives do not matter, rally organizers say.
A hearing on sentencing of two of the three defendants in the Maria Isabel case is set for March 9 in Superior Court in Stockton. News reports say the two defendants have asked for a plea bargain and possibly will only be sentenced to community service and probation instead of serving any jail time for the girl’s death. A third defendant fled the country.
On May 14, 2008, Maria Isabel collapsed after working in the blazing sun for nine hours without accessible water or shade at a Farmington, Calif. vineyard. Instead of calling for medical aid, Merced Farm Labor Contractors told the girl’s fiancé and father of her unborn child to take her to a clinic in Lodi. By then, her core temperature was 108 degrees on a day when the state work safety agency issued a heat-danger warning to employers. She lost her child and died two days later. The contracting firm had been fined for similar violations of the state heat regulation.
WHO: MEChA, Trabajadores De La Taza Student Club, Fresno County Young Democrats, CSU Fresno Alumni, Fresno State Professors, Senator Dean Florez, and community members.
WHAT: Day Of Action – Bring Your Own Laptop Rally where Fresno State students, faculty and others will send e-mails to San Joaquin County District Attorney James Willet urging him to reject a plea bargain for criminal defendants who caused the death of a 17-year old farm worker.
WHEN: 10:30 a.m. news conference, day of e-mail petitioning, Monday, March 7, 2011.
WHERE: Free Speech Area at California State University, Fresno (next to Madden Library, enter on Barton Ave off of Shaw Ave)