For Immediate Release

December 9, 2011

Media Contact:  Chel Cendana

BAYAN-USA Pacific Northwest Regional Council

Seattle, WA – The members of the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of BAYAN-USA express our deepest condolences to the family of the late Danny Vega. On November 27, we lost a valuable member of our Filipino community to a senseless murder. “Our membership has been deeply impacted by this tragic event, and joins the community in its quest for justice for the death of a respected member,” states Chel Cendana, BAYAN-USA Pacific Northwest Regional Coordinator. 

Seattle’s 98118 has been identified as the most diverse zip code in these United States with almost 60 dialects spoken and even more ethnicities. Here in the Southside, where Vega’s salon was located, we’ve been hit with displacement of working class people of color and immigrants through gentrification, the razing of public housing, and one of the highest concentrations of home foreclosures in Martin Luther King County.

On 15 November 2011 Vega, an openly gay salon owner, was violently beaten by who he could only describe as three African American men before he fell into a coma he would never wake up from. “Uncle Danny’s salon did not flourish, but did survive through economically depressing times, and it’s disheartening that suspects of this act of brutality are other folks of color, whose families also struggle in these economically trying times” Freedom Siyam said. “It’s about to get real cold out here,” referring to the difficulties in the socio-economic climate “and we need inter-ethnic solidarity and support for each other; we have more in common than we do in difference.”

BAYAN-USA Pacific Northwest regional organizations seek justice for the death of Danny Vega but are cautious about the implications this may have in policing a predominately non-white and immigrant community. We call for improved and strengthened community ties in the 98118 and will help lead community education around queer issues, shared migrant stories, and perhaps more importantly, call for community action against the economic depression hitting Seattle’s south side.

“We don’t know if this was a hate crime; we don’t know if Danny Vega was targeted for being openly gay. What we do know is that he was a beloved member of our community. And what we do know is that this was part of a string of other violent robberies that can only be linked to the economy. We know that Danny Vega’s life and trials as an immigrant probably looked more like the private lives of his assailants, than they think,” says Cendana. “We know that crimes increase when people become desperate, but the real crime is that people, especially the poor and people of color are being forced into desperation. In addition to community education around queer issues and our histories as immigrant workers to this country, we need to find some real economic solutions real quick or we will see more Danny Vegas.” ###

Alay ng Kultura | AnakBayan Seattle | Philippine U.S. Solidarity Organization | Pinay sa Seattle

BAYAN-USA Pacific Northwest:

BAYAN-USA is an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the U.S. representing organizations of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth. As the only international chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a campaign center for anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S.