An activist who was put on trial for providing water and humanitarian aid to migrants in the American Southwest desert was acquitted Tuesday by a hung jury.
Scott Warren, a 36 year-old from Ajo, Arizona, who is a professor of geography at Arizona State University, worked with the humanitarian organization No More Deaths for years to save lives at the southern border. Those efforts, as Common Dreams reported, resulted in one felony count of conspiracy to transport undocumented immigrants and two felony counts of harboring undocumented immigrants.
Warren’s trial saw the jury in his case return to the courtroom deadlocked at eight to four in favor of acquittal. The judge in the case set a hearing to proceed on the status of the case for July 2.
In a statement, Amnesty International Americas director Erika Guevara-Rosas called for Warren’s charges to be dropped in light of the mistrial.
“The mistrial in the case of Dr. Scott Warren sends a clear message that there are people in the U.S.A. who refuse to acquiesce to the government’s attempts to criminalize compassion and humanitarian aid,” said Guevara-Rosas. “As long as the U.S.A. and Mexico fail to protect the lives of migrants and asylum seekers between the two countries, human rights defenders like Scott Warren must be allowed to continue their necessary and life-saving work, unhampered by politically motivated harassment and prosecution.”
Tuesday’s jury result, No More Deaths said on Twitter, shows that “there are Arizonans standing their ground for justice and kindness in a historic moment.”
In a statement read to reporters on Tuesday, Warren said that the lethal environment at the southern border continues to kill people.
“Since my arrest in January 2018, at least 88 bodies were recovered from the Ajo corridor of the Arizona desert,” said Warren. “We know that’s a minimum number and that many more are out there and have not been found.”
Warren was arrested on January 17, 2018, just hours after No More Deaths published video evidence of Border Patrol agents destroying water jugs left for migrants. According to The Intercept‘s Ryan Devereaux, the Border Patrol set up a sting operation outside of one of the facilities used by No More Deaths hours after the report was made public. That’s where they found Warren and two undocumented young men, José Sacaria-Goday and Kristian Perez-Villanueva.
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