#JusticeforNicolas Vigil Media Roundup

Friends and family of Nicolas Morales, who was brutally killed by Collier County Sheriff’s Deputy Corporal Pierre Jean in September of last year, are joined by Immokalee community members and Southwest Florida allies at last Sunday’s vigil calling for justice for Nicolas and meaningful reforms to prevent police violence in the future in Collier County.

Brent Probinsky, attorney for Nicolas Morales’s brother: “It’s one of the most horrible things I’ve ever seen in 30 years of being a lawyer. It’s absolutely brutal and I would even say sadistic.”  

Last Sunday’s vigil in Immokalee in honor of Nicolas Morales was covered by a broad swath of Southwest Florida’s leading media outlets, and even attracted the attention of the national Pacifica radio network, with in-depth coverage from Pacifica’s flagship station out of New York City, WBAI.  Read on for a collection of media highlights from Sunday’s vigil:




“…At the vigil Sunday, Morales Besanilla’s family members described him as a diligent farmworker, a provider and a peaceful man.

Jesus Andrade said Morales Besanilla, his stepfather, took great care of his mom, Olga Olvera Andrade, before she died in 2015. Andrade said his mom had diabetes and used a wheelchair, and his stepfather would cook and clean for them.

“After my mom’s death, he was never the same,” Andrade said.

Andrade said one of the things that hurts him the most about his stepfather’s death is the fact that Morales Besanilla’s son, Nicolas Morales Jr., 12, will grow up without his parents.

In a handwritten letter by the younger Nicolas and read at the vigil by one of the speakers, the child expressed that he wants the Collier County Sheriff’s Office to be accountable for what happened to his father.

Lupe Gonzalo, organizer with CIW, said police must be prepared to respond to mental health emergencies with officers who speak multiple languages. Gonzalo said Nicolas Morales Besanilla spoke Spanish and Náhuatl, a language of the Uto-Aztecan family that is spoken in central and western Mexico, according to Brittanica.

“What worries me is that instead of dialogue or using other less-lethal methods, they went straight to violence,” Gonzalo said.

Immokalee residents didn’t stand alone at the vigil. James Muwakkil, chairman of the Fort Myers Coalition for Justice and a 50-year Southwest Florida resident, held a sign calling for better police accountability.

“I believe what happened here was murder,” he said. “His actions didn’t condemn him to being shot four times.”

Read the full story by Omar Rodríguez Ortiz and Thaddeus Mast at Naples Daily News






“…People of all ages stood at the intersection of Main and 1st St., shouting chants as live music played. Community members held signs saying, “Justice for Nicholas,” and, “No more police violence.”

Karen Dwyer has been a resident of Collier County for more than 50 years. She said she has always been concerned about the farmworker community and the need for justice.“We need to all remember, in Naples, that Immokalee is a part of Collier County,” Dwyer said. “And we have an obligation and duty to help our farmworker community.”

Dwyer added, “this is just another instance of people of color being targeted and being killed by police.” She says that when she saw the actual dashcam footage, she was stunned.“When I looked at it, I was just horrified— I’m still horrified that there hasn’t been a federal investigation yet, that nothing has been done, and I think they need to work with the community to heal the community.”

Read and listen to the story by Michelle Alvarez at WGCU






WBAI’s Paul DeRienzo covered the vigil and spoke with the family’s attorney Brent Probinksy

The radio story includes quotes from allies at the vigil, and then goes into audio from the dashcam video including the fatal moments of Nicolas’s death at the hands of the deputy. 

Probinsky walked DeRienzo through the analysis of the events that fateful night, and laid out the legal options ahead. “It’s one of the most horrible things I’ve ever seen in 30 years of being a lawyer. It’s absolutely brutal and I would even say sadistic.”  

“We are very concerned about the excessive use of force that occurred, we’re concerned about the horrible decisions they made to confront this man.  They could have used a taser, they could have done a lot of other things other than kill him.” 

Listen to the segment:

The next day, DeRienzo continued the story with an interview with CIW’s Gerardo Reyes. Listen to the segment below:





“… Jonathan Escobedo was at Sunday’s rally. “I had always thought it would never happen here,” Escobedo said. “I am absolutely sickened of having to see another brown body, another person who looks like me being murdered by the police.” 

… The crowd on Sunday says that Morales’ killing was far from justified and they are demanding accountability and transparency from the sheriff’s office.

Banessa Perez is with the Student Farmworkers Alliance at FGCU. “This is a human life that was lost and we just want justice. That video was so difficult to see and we’re just here demanding action and justice for Nicolas,” Perez said.

Now, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers is demanding a federal investigation, that CCSO implement a mental health crisis response team and an Immokalee citizen’s review panel. All in an effort to prevent more deaths at the hands of deputies.

Gerardo Reyes Chaves is with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. “We are not going to tolerate any of this any longer,” he said. “Because beating one of us is beating us all.”

See the WINK story by Andryanna Sheppard and Drew Hill below or read on WINK

Check back soon for the latest news on the Immokalee community’s fight for justice for Nicolas, as well as updates from the front in the Wendy’s Boycott and the CIW’s ongoing COVID response efforts in Florida.