On Saturday afternoon hundreds of friends, family, and community members gathered together on the corner of 71st and Collins in Miami Beach to honor our dear friend Israel Hernandez taken from us way too soon at the age of 17. His crime? Doing what he loved most creating art. Despite the oppressive heat of a typical Miami day in August, legions of people came together to talk about and celebrate Israel and share memories, and tell how important how he was in their lives. It was unbelievable to hear how a 17 year old young man could have touched so many lives in such a short time. He was a very active participant in the Miami skateboard scene, art, and graffiti communities. We gathered peacefully despite our anger and outrage. One by one, friends and family spoke about Israel and his art and what an amazing person he was. At the family’s request there was no chanting—only a bit at the end of” no justice no peace.” Local residents spoke about what a blight the abandoned McDonalds building is and expressed outrage that such a tragedy could occur over a kid putting up a little bit of art. So many of the most well-known graffiti artists were there (although very uncomfortably since they don’t like to be anywhere near a large group of police officers).
Although the rally was thankfully very peaceful you could very much feel the tension in the air and how much everyone was suppressing their anger especially since we were surrounded by barricades and police as far as your eye could see. They were even posted on the rooftops of the buildings across the street which created a very eery and uncomfortable atmosphere.
I have been spearheading an effort to help HONOR Israel aka Reefa (his tag name) by making #RIPREEFA STICKERS. This effort has been supported 100% by DONATIONS and I cannot believe how massive the response has been WORLDWIDE for these stickers. People all over the world are outraged that a kid could be tased and die for graffiti. This should never ever have happened for writing on a wall!