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Demonstrators Unite in Houston to Demand Justice for Vanessa Guillen

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Thousands of protesters rallied in solidarity to protest and demand justice for Vanessa Guillen at Houston City Hall on July 4th, 2020.
The 20-year-old was declared missing in April after last being seen at Fort Hood Military Base and whose remains were found several months later. Guillen’s disappearance spread through social media and quickly gained nationwide headlines. A male suspect identified as U.S Army Specialist Aaron Robinson died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on July 1st as investigators circled in while a second suspect, Cecily Aguilar, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to tamper with evidence.
A Congressional investigation into the case has been demanded by the Guillen Family who have criticized the military’s initial response and handling of Guillen’s disappearance. Many believe Guillen’s status as a Latina woman may have played a factor behind the lack of urgency in the investigation. LULAC, the largest Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States, has even urged Latina women not to enlist in the military due to safety concerns.
Sexual harassment allegations made by Guillen surfaced which highlighted the issue of sexual abuse in the military. It prompted a #IAMVanessaGuillen hashtag on social media with users speaking out about their own experiences of sexual misconduct during their time in the armed forces.
According to the Department of Defense’s Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, the number of sexual assault cases made by service members increased by 3 percent, from 6,053 in the 2018 Fiscal Year to 6,236 in the 2019 Fiscal Year.
Guillen’s death has sparked criticism towards the military with people questioning the handling of sexual abuse cases in the armed forces as well as the safety of soldiers while on base.
People across the country have voiced their support for the Guillen family through a number of peaceful protests with the goal of raising awareness and gaining justice in Vanessa Guillen’s case while petitions have also been circulating online with supporters calling for Congress to shut down the Fort Hood military base entirely.
The I Am Vanessa Guillen Bill will be introduced to Congress on July 30th which would allow active service members in the military to report sexual harassment to a third party instead of to their superior officers. This comes one day after the Guillen Family is scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump in Washington D.C.
Several murals can be spotted throughout the city of Houston as tributes continue to honor 20-year-old Vanessa Guillen during the ongoing fight for justice and change. “What happened to my sister could’ve been prevented,” Lupe Guillen said. ”We will not stop, we will not be silent,[and] we will keep fighting until my sister Vanessa Guillen gets the justice she deserves.”

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