Book Launch of Graphic Novel: The Death of Local 18-Year-Old Graffiti Artist
By Lisa Palley
It’s been two years since the death of Israel Hernandez-Llach, the 18-year-old graffiti artist who was accidentally tasered to death on Aug. 6, 2013 by City of Miami Beach police. Honoring the life of Israel is a new graphic novel by Venezuelan-born, Miami-resident filmmaker and documentarian Stan Jakubowicz.
“If I don’t see a film out there that deals with important social issues, I try to make it myself. That has led me to make movies and documentaries dealing with broad ranging issues, such as homosexuality in Latin America, the tragedies of World War II, police brutality against blacks and browns and how racism in America manifests itself in pools. Yes. Pools,” said filmmaker turned author Stan Jakubowicz.
Former Fusion documentarian Stan Jakubowicz and Venezuela-based illustrator Jefferson Quintana established a framework — the graphic novel — to discuss these feelings and to bring those feelings into a community conversation.
Isra & Lito is about a boy who says “that everyone adds [his/her] own color to the world” and that “each color is special;” a boy who loved many things — painting, skateboarding, and the night — “because it is calm, quiet and mysterious.” It is at night that Isra expresses himself, and brings joy to the night, and joy to the “sad” streets. Isra is a graffiti artist, and the story by Stan is based on the true life story of Israel Hernandez, who was caught paintinggraffiti on a Miami Beach wall, and tasered by police.
Today, tasers are still legal, and are widely used.
Stan first heard about the story when he worked in the Univision newsroom as a producer of a daily show about the intersection of artistry and technology. He felt this story would be perfect for the show (https://vimeo.com/126540852). More than that, Israel’s story touched Stan in other ways: they had shared experiences as an immigrant, an artist, a son.
“When I got deeper and deeper into the story I became fascinated with how authorities made an extremely racist assumption. Israel Hernandez-Llach was born in Barranquilla, Colombia. For months medical examiners looked for one thing in his system. Cocaine. Of course, Colombia, Cocaine. You get the picture,” said Stan. The police ultimately found no cocaine in Israel’s body, and it was a year later they admitted that the taser shock had caused his death. “It was not cocaine. And even today, nobody has apologized to Israel’s family.”
The book launch of Isra & Lito will take place on Sun., Aug. 28, 5:00 p.m. at Books & Books + Bikes & Lebo in Wynwood; 2602 N.W. 5th Ave., Miami. Following the reading by Stan and illustrator Quintana, there will be a book signing and a reception in Israel Hernandez-Llach’s honor. Free. For more information contact Stan Jakubowicz at firstname.lastname@example.org.