By Peter Maiden
Around 75 people attended a vigil in Fresno on July 18 in honor of Vanessa Guillen. The vigil was held at 717 N. Fresno Street, where a mural featuring her likeness had just been completed. The mural is one of a number of Guillen that have been painted across the country. As part of the Black Lives Matter movement, there have been several murals painted around Fresno recently.
Specialist Guillen was a 20-year-old soldier in the U.S. Army who was killed by a male soldier at Fort Hood, Texas, on April 22. Her remains weren’t found until June 30. The killer was apparently 20-year-old Specialist David Robinson. Robinson killed himself on July 1 as investigators were on the way to speak with him. Robinson’s girlfriend, Cecily Aguilar, admitted she helped Robinson dispose of Guillen’s body.
Guillen told members of her family she was being sexually harassed. In the context of the Me-Too movement and the groundswell of protest against the killing of George Floyd, the public is making connections, and Guillen’s death has been met with great concern.
Elaine Lura (D–Va.), who spent 20 years in the Navy, said earlier this month: “There are reports from Vanessa’s family that she was being harassed, but…she did not feel comfortable making a credible report. A lot of women are hesitant to make reports and don’t necessarily feel that when others make reports they have gotten justice.”
Many are realizing that women in the armed forces can be helped by greater social awareness. U.S. Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy has said that he will order a “full independent review” of Guillen’s case. The House Armed Services Committee has just called for an Office of the Chief Prosecutor at military academies to deal with cases of sexual harassment.
The lead artist on the Fresno mural of Guillen was Omar “Super” Huerta.
Peter Maiden is the photo editor of the Community Alliance newspaper.