Protestors with the Hispanics United Alliance have gathered multiple times in the past month after the deaths of Susana Morales and Rodrigo Floriano Mayen.
Police labeled Morales as a runway after she went missing in July last year while walking home from a friend’s house. A passerby found her remains on February 6th at the Gwinnett-Barrow county line. Gwinnett PD arrested former Doraville officer Miles Bryant for the murder and kidnapping of the 16-year-old.
That same day, Mayen’s family members discovered his body in an abandoned home in Tucker after reporting him missing a few days prior. Police said the 17-year-old died of an overdose, and his case is unrelated to Morales. Francisca Mayen, Rodrigo’s mother, told Latinx media outlet Telemundo that she and other family members searched for Rodrigo alone after the police wouldn’t help them.
(Translated from Spanish) “We did everything, even finding him (Rodrigo) there,” she said.
Protestor Adriana Rivera said Gwinnett County PD has failed to protect Hispanic children in the community.
“They failed to protect them. They failed to lock up the perpetrators, and now there’s people that are losing their lives to this,” she said. It’s just a shame, it really is.”
At a press conference this past week, Gwinnett County Police Chief J.D. McClure said what happened to Morales was an “unspeakable tragedy.” When asked what Gwinnett is doing to build the relationship between the Hispanic community and the police department, McClure said the association is already good.
“We work constantly to build relationships with our community, all of our community,” he said. “We work hard on all criminal investigations, and I think this arrest speaks to that fact.”
Rivera said local law enforcement should take accountability and do more to help the Hispanic community.
“Don’t just label us runaways. Don’t just label us drug addicts, gang bangers,” she said. “We just need to be taken more seriously.”