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Case of Nico Gaete: How Social Media Policing is Criminalizing and Framing Our Youth

Rodrigo Starz of Rebel Diaz  |  Issue: July | August 2016

Nico Gaete


CHICAGO, IL — On the weekend of June 10, Nico, the son of my cousin, Carolina Gaete, was kidnapped by Chicago Police and is being held on $750,000 bond on trumped up and false charges. He’s charged with shooting another young man three times over some weed.

I’ve known Nico his whole life, and this young man wouldn’t hurt a fly. He’s not in a gang, he doesn’t have access or own a gun. He’s just not about that life. He’s all about peace and meditation and not into violence at all. If anything, he’s the type to stay in his room all day and write raps.

Nico’s case is not an isolated case as the way he was identified is a new wave of social media policing that is going on that as an awake community we need to be aware of and start adapting to. The Chicago Police seem to have gathered a data base of pictures of young men from the neighborhood from Facebook and other social media and are using these pics instead of police line ups to show victims for identifying suspects.

Think about it — this young man has no criminal history — yet his picture was used as being a possible criminal?! And it just happens that he was falsely identified!! The picture used was two years old. This is a mother’s worst nightmare — her only baby taken away by police and held for a 3/4 Million Dollar ransom for a crime he obviously didn’t commit.

The craziness of it is alarming because we are clear this is happening all over the country. In New York City, 120 young men were arrested in the Bronx’s Eastchester Houses with RICO Law charges and conspiracy charges on cases mostly built off of social media surveillance. Basically a whole community was under military siege and all the young people in the area criminalized instead of the police doing their actual job and investigating who was really doing the crimes.

Nothing on Nico’s social media pages is even about violence or drugs or gang affiliations, but he was caught up as a result of this new type of policing. His mother, Carolina, has been a tireless social justice organizer in Chicago. Their family, like mine, is here as Chilean exiles who were forced to leave their homeland because of a CIA-funded military coup that overthrew the socialist government of democratically elected Salvador Allende.

Nico grew up with values of loving your community and organizing in it. His mother was one of the hunger strikers whose action led to the building of the Little Village High School. For us this hits close to home because he is one of ours, a member of our extended, exiled family. He’s a seed of a struggle for a better tomorrow. He can’t remain behind bars, as he doesn’t belong there!! His mom and us have supported many struggles and shown international solidarity, today, we need your help.


As we go to press, Nico’s bond was reduced to $300,000. The family and supporting community made bail, and he returned home to await trial. Defense contributions can be sent by PayPal to:


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