MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - The sister and parents of Israel Hernandez-Llach, the 18-year-old who died shortly after he was tasered by a police officer, were joined by more than 300 supporters -- many from South Florida's Colombian American and art communities -- at a vigil held Saturday afternoon.
They cried for justice for the up-and-coming Colombian-American artist who died Tuesday morning, after Miami Beach police tased him for running away from them after they say he sprayed graffiti on a wall on a vacant building.
This became the backdrop of this bereavement on the corner of Collins Avenue and 71st Street.
"We thank you from the bottom of our hearts that you came here today," said Offir Hernandez, Israel's sister. "Only united we can be strong."
"I've known him for a very long time," said one girl. "I don't think anybody should be punished for something that they love so much. Art is not a crime."
The Colombian-American group America's Community Center released a statement Saturday, saying police went too far.
"It is both beyond belief and completely unacceptable that such a tragic incident occurred," reads the statement. "The Hernandez family came to America from their native Colombia looking for a better and safer life. They were looking for the American dream. This is not supposed to happen in the United States."
"I'm an immigrant from Venezuela, an artist and poet, and Israel could have been me," said Juan Morales.
"I want to remind you guys this is a peaceful support, peaceful," said Offir Hernandez.
The vigil was held following Thursday's confrontational protest against a small number of police. The young demonstrators went as far as to tag the same wall while shouting expletives at officers, to do to them what was done to their friend, nicknamed "Reefa."
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