Pittsfield remembers Miguel Estrella six months after his death
Matt Martinez is reporting for The Berkshire Eagle that members of the Pittsfield, Mass., community gathered September 25, to remember Miguel Estrella, six months after he was killed by police. Attendees of the March for Miguel were encouraged to bring their ideas for keeping the community safe and for changing the way mental health crises are handled in the Berkshires. The march was organized by Manos Unidas, Roots and Dreams and Mustard Seeds, Westside Legends, the Berkshires Democratic Socialists of America, and the Maggie Sadoway Immigrant Cooperative. Gonzalo Bermudez, a member of Manos Unidas, said that Estrella’s death resulted in a loss of trust between police and community members. Bermudez said many people are now hesitant to contact police. “That’s a tragedy for the community,” Bermudez said. “They might have a crisis, but they won’t call the police because they know someone might end up dead.” He said many in the Latino community are fearful that it could happen to them, and called for “urgent and necessary change” in the way that mental health crises are handled by first responders. Estrella, in the midst of a mental health crisis in March, was shot and killed by police after responding officers felt he was a threat. Estrella had a knife at the time he was shot. September 30, would have been his 23rd birthday. The police officer who shot him, Nicholas Sondrini, was found to be acting in self-defense by investigations from the Pittsfield Police Department and Berkshire District Attorney’s Office. “I’ve lost a sibling, but I’ve gained a community that sees exactly what I see: A need for change,” said Elina Estrella, Miguel’s sister. “A change Miguel deserved and a change that we all deserved. This march may not mean much to many, but it means so much for us.” Read the full story in The Berkshire Eagle.