COVID-19 RESPONSE: Take action to protect farmworkers in Immokalee!


Morales’s family comes together with CIW, Collier faith and community leaders to make public call for transparency, justice…

Lucas Benitez, CIW: “A police officer killed one of us a month ago in the quiet streets of Farmworker Village… We can’t bring Nicolas back to life; we can’t give his son his father back.  But we can work together to ensure that justice is done, that the truth of Nicolas’s death is told.”  

Collier County Sheriff’s Office reveals deputy who shot farmworker Nicolas Morales already back on active duty in Immokalee;

Last month, Nicolas Morales, a single father and longtime farmworker in Immokalee was shot and killed in the early hours of September 17th by a deputy with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.  Since then, in spite of urgent calls for transparency from Nicolas’s family and a broad coalition of Southwest Florida community leaders, the CCSO has done little to cast light on the events of that night, releasing only three short, contradictory statements while withholding key information, including the official autopsy report and dashcam video that sits with the State Attorney’s office more than a month after Nicolas’s death. 

Earlier this month we provided a detailed analysis of the many significant contradictions contained in the CCSO’s three statements on Nicolas’s fatal shooting, concluding:

Indeed, rather than build a believable picture, and comprehensive understanding, of the 13 seconds between the deputies’ arrival on the scene and the firing of the four fatal shots, the CCSO’s statements contain a number of significant inconsistencies, factual discrepancies that prompt yet more urgent questions.  In the end, rather than assuage the community’s concerns, the three statements only cast more doubt on any conceivable justification for Nicolas’ violent and untimely death at the hands of those committed to protecting — not killing — the public whom they serve. 

You can find our breakdown of the CCSO’s statements in its entirety here.

More than a month after one of its deputies fired four shots from his service weapon and took Nicolas’s life, the CCSO has failed to take any of the steps necessary to explain the deputy’s actions, rebuild trust with the community, or provide some semblance of closure for Nicolas’s family.  On the contrary, as NBC-2 revealed on Wednesday, the CCSO has placed the deputy involved in the shooting back on active duty in Immokalee – despite the fact that the official investigation remains unresolved.

In the face of the CCSO’s callous indifference to the community’s concerns, patience is wearing thin in Immokalee.  On Wednesday, Nicolas’s family gathered with faith and community leaders from across Collier County for a press conference in Naples to demand the immediate release of the dashcam footage, the autopsy report, and other key information and recordings from the night of Nicolas’s death – and their voices were carried by every major television and radio station in Southwest Florida, as well as some national outlets.  At the press conference, which was hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Naples, Nicolas’s family was joined by the CIW, the Collier County NAACP, Moms Demand Action of Southwest Florida, Collier Youth for Black Lives, the Fort Myers Congregational United Church of Christ, Collier Freedom, and the national Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), whose Stated Clerk sent a statement in support of the call for transparency read by a local Presbyterian Church leader.

Before diving into the local news coverage, we want to share the CIW’s statement in full, which was delivered by CIW’s Lucas Benitez during the event:

I’d like to begin with a quote from Langston Hughes’s poem, “Let America Be America Again”:

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed —

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme

That any man be crushed by one above.

You have heard the facts of this case from Mr. Probinsky — of the death of our friend, of a father, of a farmworker, at the hands of the police — so we will not belabor the facts.  The details speak for themselves — Nicolas was killed, holding nothing in his hand but a gardening tool, shot four times by one of three police officers armed with guns and a trained police dog, a mere 13 seconds after they arrived at the scene.  Nicolas didn’t deserve to be killed that night, to be crushed, in the words of Langston Hughes, by one above.  His death was not inevitable.  It was wrong.  His family, and his community, need all the information that the police have, and have yet to share, so that justice may be done for his wrongful death...





Author: Corporate Social Responsibility “badly failing to detect, address, and prevent forced labour in the global economy.”

October 21, 2020

Genevieve LeBaron, author of new book Combatting Modern Slavery: Why Labour Governance Is Failing and What We Can Do About it, pens scathing critique of corporate-led social responsibility efforts for Reuters Foundation in op/ed titled, “It’s time to stop believing corporate fairy tales about modern slavery”; “Study after study has found that tools like social auditing and ethical certification are profoundly flawed and ineffective when it comes to the worst forms of labour exploitation… Research reveals corporate fairytales for what they are: enthralling stories that are very unlikely to be true.” This past August we reported on the publication of a landmark, […]

“From empty standards to enforceable rights”…

October 15, 2020

Migrant Justice releases landmark report documenting unprecedented progress in Vermont dairy industry under Milk with Dignity Program; Worker under MWD Program: “Before we never spoke up, now we have the freedom to speak, without any fear that we’ll be fired.  You feel more secure, with all the benefits and knowing all your rights.”; Participating Farmer: “The [Milk with Dignity premium] might make the difference between us still having a farm a year from now or not.” Here below is a story of human rights progress on one of Vermont’s iconic dairy farms that you will not hear from any other […]

Students, youth set to gather this weekend for a virtual gathering of strategy building for the Wendy’s Campaign…

October 13, 2020

Apply today to join the Student/Farmworker Alliance 2020 Encuentro: “Piecing Together Justice,” Oct. 17-18… Despite all of the unforeseen challenges 2020 has thrown our way, the young leaders of the Student/Farmworker Alliance have once again banded together to push forward a critical marker of the Campaign for Fair Food’s yearly calendar: the annual SFA Encuentro gathering.  This weekend, Oct. 17-18, young people from across the country will gather virtually for a weekend of learning new organizing skills, strategizing with farmworker leaders of the CIW, and deepening their commitment to the movement for Fair Food.  There’s still time to submit your […]

COVID-19 MEDIA ROUND-UP: In Florida and across the country, farmworkers are denied adequate healthcare protections by state and local officials amid case surges…

October 9, 2020

National Geographic: “While empty grocery store shelves and mile-long food bank lines have become less prevalent than during the early days of the pandemic, advocates say essential workers and their families are still as vulnerable as ever…” Fall is officially here, and in Immokalee that means that the sidewalks along Main Street, the four-lane road running through  the heart of the Florida farmworker community, are filling up with migrant workers returning from northern states.  The new harvest season is just around the corner, and with it, the potential for another major outbreak of COVID-19. Indeed, even as new cases surge […]

Great new article in The Nation: “The Immokalee Way: Protecting Farmworkers Amid a Pandemic”…

October 7, 2020

Excellent reporting from The Nation takes sweeping look at this spring’s first big COVID-19 outbreak among essential farmworkers — involving workers sleeping two to a bed in overcrowded, unpermitted housing — at Green Empire greenhouse in upstate NY; Green Empire greenhouse “owned by Ontario-based Mastronardi Produce, the largest distributor of hydroponic, indoor-grown produce in North America, and owner of at least six such facilities across the United States”; While Wendy’s says Green Empire is not in its supply chain, Mastronardi is known supplier to Wendy’s; The Nation: “The outbreak at Green Empire, critics say, was the inevitable outcome of a legal structure that allows companies like Green Empire, Mastronardi, […]

Collier County Sheriff’s changing version of events that led to police shooting of Nicolas Morales undermines public trust in the investigation and demands immediate transparency…

October 2, 2020

Collier County Sheriff’s Office issues conflicting statements on last month’s fatal shooting of Nicolas Morales;  Multiple discrepancies cast doubt on several key elements of the events leading up to Nicolas’ death at the hands of Collier County deputies; Immokalee community demands answers, transparency, including release of Nicolas Morales’ autopsy report, any dashboard camera footage of the incident, transcript of any communications among the three deputies involved… Shortly after 1:00 am on September 17th, on a quiet street in a housing development located just south of Immokalee called Farm Worker Village, Corporal Pierre Richard Jean of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office […]

“The world has lost a giant, one who happily forsook Goliath for a life well-spent in David’s army.”

September 29, 2020

Steve Hitov, Pioneering Human Rights Strategist and General Counsel, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, dies at 72 As many readers of this site already know, Steve Hitov, the CIW’s longtime General Counsel — an essential member of the CIW’s strategic core and co-author of many of the CIW’s most important structural successes — passed away three weeks ago after living, and thriving, with multiple cancers for the final decade of his life.  He was 72 years old.  Steve was a fierce fighter for universal human rights, a brilliant legal thinker, and an inveterate sucker for a bad pun. There are not […]

BREAKING: Immokalee farmworker Nicholas Morales shot and killed by Collier County Sheriff’s Office

September 19, 2020

“They didn’t kill an animal; they killed a human being… I want justice for this man and this young child that is left without a dad,” said Yola Martinez, close friend of Nicholas Morales, Immokalee farmworker shot and killed by Collier County Sheriff deputies… CIW: “We must have a full investigation and justice for Nicholas and his family, as well as for the broader Immokalee community as a whole.  And so that justice may be done, we demand to know the truth.” Today, we are heart-broken to bring you what we know of a still-developing story from right here in Immokalee […]

Gov. DeSantis, Collier County: Take action NOW to protect Immokalee’s farmworkers from COVID-19 ahead of the harvest!

September 3, 2020

The clock is ticking: Farmworkers returning to Florida for the fall harvest season, students returning to school in Immokalee for in-person classes, combine to create fertile ground for a new COVID-19 outbreak; State and county health officials must take immediate action, work with internationally-acclaimed Partners In Health to protect the Sunshine State’s essential workers! Over the past several months, Florida became a global hotspot of the coronavirus pandemic, reaching record-breaking infection levels in early July that would have ranked the state 4th in the world for new coronavirus cases in a day if it were a country.  The rural farmworker community […]

A quote by the late Congressman John Lewis resurfaces, and not a moment too soon…

August 28, 2020

Civil Rights hero cites CIW in introduction to his final book on his life in the fight for social justice… Congressman John Lewis: “Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society.” To quote, or perhaps to paraphrase, Thomas Paine, “These are the times that try (our) souls.” Paine was of course talking about a particularly dark and difficult moment in the history of the American Revolution, but he might as well have been talking about America today, 244 years later.   This week […]