El Pasoans march to demand justice for Vanessa Guillen

Protesters+hold+up+signs+outside+of+Fort+Bliss+to+demand+justice+for+missing+Fort+Hood+soldier+Vanessa+Guillen+July+4%2C+2020.

Michael Cuviello

Protesters hold up signs outside of Fort Bliss to demand justice for missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen July 4, 2020.

Michael Cuviello, Editor-in-Chief

Around 75 protesters gathered just as the sun was going down in Grandview Park Saturday, July 4 and marched to Fort Bliss, demanding justice for the inaction of the military in the disappearance of Vanessa Guillen. Guillen is presumed dead after going missing April 22.   

Natalie Khawan, the Guillen family attorney, told CNN that military investigators have said to her that Guillen was bludgeoned to death at in her unit armory and transported elsewhere. Guillen’s suspected remains have been found 20 miles from the base and the family is still awaiting verification on the body.  

“Our main purpose was not to alienate active military or veterans. We want to make sure that they are included because we lost one of our own,” said Nubia Legarda. ”I’m sure that people in the service feel the same way.”  

Protesters want Guillen’s chain of command to be held responsible for what they feel is a cover-up and lack of leadership in looking out for one of their soldiers resulting in her death. According to Army investigators, it took 26 days from Guillen’s disappearance to find a witnesses that said that they saw Guillen’s suspected killer dragging a large container out of the armory on the last day she was seen.  

“We want every member of her chain of command to be held accountable for what happened to her. Reporting people to the enablers of the attackers holds nobody to account,” said, Monica Brown.  

Along with the demand for justice for Guillen, another demand from the march was getting military recruiters out of schools, the shutting down of Fort Hood and a call for all people of color to boycott joining the military.  

After arriving at the Cassidy gate of Fort Bliss, protesters gathered around the barriers and the tank monument that greets incoming visitors to the base. Various speakers, including Guadalupe Gayton, whose daughter has been missing since July 13, 2019 called for action and justice in the Guillen case. Military veterans shared their sexual assault experience and spoke of how the military ignored the crimes that befell them.  

After some speakers called for the abolishment of the military, some members of the crowd felt the message was out of place with the protest. Sylvia Galvan, a military spouse, thought that the message was not proper since they were marching for justice for Guillen. Galvan said that many military spouses were more worried about the protest’s demands than the tragic death of Guillen.  

“I may not agree with all of your beliefs,” said Galvan. “I want the same thing in the end. I want justice for Vanessa Guillen.”  

“We are out here as a community looking for justice for Vanessa Guillen and any other service member or veteran that is going through sexual assault, sexual harassment or being discriminated against, ” said Brown, a military veteran. “ We are looking for answers. We are looking for justice. It is time that we find justice in this messed up system that we have going on.”  

Michael Cuviello may be reached at [email protected]