Last October, a reporter approached The Investigative Fund with disturbing video he had obtained. That grainy footage captured a handcuffed man, prone on the ground, being tased and beaten to death by US Border Patrol agents.
The victim was Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, a San Diego construction worker, father of five, and undocumented immigrant. Local police ruled his 2010 death a homicide, but then closed their investigation without charging a single agent. Earlier this month, the impunity came to an end — with 16 members of Congress demanding a full investigation by the Department of Justice.
It was The Investigative Fund that made the difference. We sent the reporter, John Carlos Frey, to the border to investigate Anastasio's death, and we met with producers at the PBS show Need to Know. The result was an April 20 broadcast that sparked a massive national petition drive and an explosion of activism by community groups such as the Southern Border Communities Coalition. Anastasio's mother even flew to Washington, DC, to demand accountability.
Every year, The Investigative Fund produces dozens of hard-hitting investigations like this one. Our probe into racial violence in the wake of Hurricane Katrina triggered federal indictments — as did our investigation into human trafficking by a Los Angeles labor recruiting firm, Global Horizons. And our series about veterans with PTSD sparked federal legislation ending the practice of denying them benefits. We work with journalists as they do muckraking reporting and we cover the costs of their travel. Then we partner with such outlets as theNation, Mother Jones, the New York Review of Books, NPR, PBS, and Salon to publish our investigations.
But we can’t do this important work without your help. Today marks the launch of our annual summer email fund drive. Please help by donating here, and by spreading the word through Facebook and Twitter. We can't do this without you!
Since the Need to Know segment aired, John's reporting has gone viral: He wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times and the story was covered in outlets ranging from ABC News and MSNBC to Univision, La Opinion, and the London Daily Mail. Now The Investigative Fund is working with John to expose more abuse by the Border Patrol.
We only come to our readers once a year to ask for your support. Please support groundbreaking journalism by donating to The Investigative Fund now.