By Tara Thompson
Recently on April 8th, a student at Liberty High School, Z and their partner Aly were terrorized by a group of teenagers in a truck that drove up to them. Z says they used Racial slurs and fired ice pellets at them and Aly just outside of Double Rainbow after an innocent ice cream date. “It was something I had to live through for every second. 40 minutes where me and my partner Aly were terrorized, shot at, called slurs, and chased.” This isn’t the first time this has happened. Apparently this behavior is that of a game they called “La migra” that has been a “tradition” here in Benicia for decades which has led to multiple students being harassed and injured. La Migra is a slang term for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) where older teens pretend to be the ICE agents and go around town trying to catch younger students, such as freshmen and sophomores, who pretend to be immigrants trying to run away.
In a town hall meeting on April 28th, Benicia Police Chief Mike Greene said it causes problems every time it’s played. “You have a bunch of kids running around hopping fences, running in and out of traffic, doing dangerous things.” Hakeem Bown with the NAACP (The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Chapter of Vallejo and Benicia said “there should be no tolerance for this type of behavior. This has been going on for a very long time and if you don’t address it, it will be going on either further.”
Just around four years ago NBC Bay Area shot a video of Benicia police and School Officials alerting the community that the game was happening and that it was a problem. When asked what their initial reaction was, Z responded “At the time of the incident it was happening so fast that it was difficult to process right away. If anything I was hit with shock, then with anger, then with fear. I was suddenly put in a situation where I felt as if I had to look out for the life of both my significant other and myself and that if I didn’t think or act quick we might have been seriously injured or worse.”
When their partner Aly was asked the same question they stated, “I get catcalled a lot, and I’ve been in many situations where it has even escalated—directly threatening my safety, even in public. So even when it isn’t at that degree, I have to always be wary that it might get there; it’s unpredictable. So when I heard the barking and saw a truck full of men, I was terrified. It sealed the deal for me when I was called a slut and the N word, and we were shot at. I had no idea what was going on and frankly was in shock. Throughout those 40ish minutes of hiding, I was truthfully afraid I would be raped; I didn’t know what was happening, and I didn’t know if Z and I would make it out. I was very scared for us, and all we wanted that night was ice cream.”
Sadly though, this isn’t the first time Z or Aly has experienced something like this, though Z explained, “this is the most extreme case I’ve been in but unfortunately not the first act of aggression I’ve faced here in Benicia. I often face microaggressions, usually from older people, who cross the street or get off of the sidewalk when they see me walking. However more recognizable events are from middleschool where I would get into fights because another student called me or my friends homophobic slurs for being openly apart of the LGBTQ.”
Thank You to Aly and Z both for being brave enough to bring this out and put their story’s out there for others support and knowledge.