Ignoring Police Abuse in the Latino Community

by Angelo Falcon on August 3, 2015

In the last few weeks there were a number of articles asking that question.

As the anniversaries of high profile police killings of unarmed Black men came to pass last week, the issue of why policy abuse in the Latino community is not receiving the same amount of attention by the media and Latino leaders. Why is there such little public attention to the police killings of Latinos like Omar Abrego, Manuel “Stomper” Diaz, Ricardo Diaz Zeferino, Oscar Ramirez, Jr., Antonio Zambrano-Montes or the fact that in Los Angeles County, for example, of the 23 people fatally shot by law enforcement this year, 14 were Latino?

There was the July 18th Los Angeles Times piece by Nicole Santa Cruz, Ruben Vives And Marisa Gerber, “Why the deaths of Latinos at the hands of police haven’t drawn as much attention”; this was followed up by NPR in their July 25th report, “Despite Spotlight On Police Shootings, Incidents With Latinos Often Forgotten”; a July 31st piece in Cosmopolitan, “Why Isn’t Anyone Talking About Police Brutality in the Latino Community?”; and an article in the July 22nd Final Call, “Outrage over police killings of Latinos – #JusticeOrElse.”

Explanations ranged from the Latino leadership’s focus on the immigration issue, to the fear many Latinos come to the US with about the police, to Americans seeing Latinos mostly as “foreigners” and not full American citizens. A point is made how well Latinos seem to be represented in the police forces of major cities like Los Angeles and New York City as another factor.

But given that this is not a new issue for Latinos, the reason why Latino political and civic leaders haven’t taken on this issue more seriously and why Latino community activists haven’t been more militant on this issue, except in isolated instances, is not at all clear.

This seems like the right time for Latino community leaders to convene a national summit on the problem of police killings and abuse in the Latino community.  If not, we will continue to be referred to as “. . . and Latinos” whenever the issue is discussed while justice is being denied daily in our communities.

This piece first appeared in the National Institute for Latino Policy Report

Filed under: National Politics