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Follow our coverage of immigration and related issues affecting Latinos in the Charlotte area.

Protesters In Charlotte Join Others Nationwide Demanding Justice For Vanessa Guillén

Protests ramped up again in Charlotte over the weekend. One group, called Unity-In-Diversity, gathered Sunday afternoon at Romare Bearden Park demanding justice for Vanessa Guillén, a 20-year-old U.S. Army soldier who disappeared in April from Fort Hood in Texas and was found dead near the military base earlier this month.

Protestor at Romare Bearden Park
Credit Laura Brache / WFAE
A protester holds her sign at Romare Bearden Park in uptown Charlotte at a peaceful protest for Vanessa Guillen on Sunday, July 12.

One of the protest organizers, 21-year-0ld Carolina Peralta, said they are joining hundreds of protestors across country demanding a more thorough investigation into Guillén's slaying and accountability from the U.S. Army for sexual harassment in the military.

"Even though it didn’t happen here in Charlotte, it still affects all of us, especially us as Latinx," she said.

Organizer Ixzelt Mina, 20, said she takes Guillén's death personally.

"It hits home a lot because, I as well, I’m a woman, and I’m Latina and I’m in the same age group as her, and I have friends in the military,” Mina said.

The group marched from Romare Bearden Park to First Ward Park and back again, chanting in English and Spanish, "Say her name - Vanessa Guillén" or "Dí su nombre -- Vanessa Guillén." 

When passing through a blocked off portion of South Tryon Street where a Black Lives Matter mural was painted, they also chanted in solidarity for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Through social media, Unity-In-Diversity invited interested members of the community to participate in the “peaceful protest” for Guillén. Organizers asked participants to wear masks or face coverings. They also asked that there be no violence but welcomed banners and signs.


Guillén, who was of Mexican descent, disappeared on April 22 from Fort Hood. Her remains were found on June 30 within 10 miles in Killeen, Texas. Her remains weren't identified until July 5.

Her family shared with the media that she was sexually harassed by a sergeant at the base. They also say that the young soldier did not report the abuse for fear of any retaliation against her. Authorities report that the suspect, Aaron David Robinson, committed suicide a few hours after Guillén's body was identified.

“I’ve seen a lot of women and a lot of people over social media, their posts going viral, about them speaking up and how they now have the courage to speak up because they want to prevent another death, another case like Vanessa," Mina said.

Laura Brache is a Report for America corps member and covers immigration and the Latino community in Charlotte for WFAE and La Noticia.