Six months ago today, skateboarder and graffiti artist Israel ‘Reefa’ Hernandez Llach died shortly after being tased in the chest by Miami Beach Police. He was tagging his name on an abandoned McDonald's around 5 a.m. on August 6, 2013 when confronted by police, according to the police report. A chase followed, Reefa was tased and died shortly after.
The sudden death of the 18-year-old left fellow artists and supporters around the world outraged. His tag ‘Reefa’ quickly gained international notoriety as a protest tag against excessive use of force perpetuated by police.
To this day, autopsy reports regarding the cause of death have still not been released. The Hernandez family has filed a lawsuit against the City of Miami Beach and the Miami Beach Police Department over the death. They've accused police of using excessive force and failing to give Hernandez medical attention. The case is also being independently reviewed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
“Pretty up the city” was a phrase Reefa often scribbled next to his signature flowers, hoping to add a touch of color to the often spotty areas that he frequented.
This week, I took to the streets to grab some glimpses of the legacy Reefa left behind for his adopted hometown.
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.