Latinos cannot catch a break in America these days. Arpaio-like Racial Profiling abounds. We have to mind our P's and Q's, carry our passport, birth certificate, driver's license, et al, or suffer the possibility of arrest/Detention Centers, even though we are Citizens/here Legally. I thought we were living in Post-Racial America! Did someone forget to let the Police and the Judicial System know that Latinos were in the Post-Racial America equation?
Let me tell you the story of two cousins, Julio Maldonado and Denis Calderon. Julio and Denis came to the U.S. as toddlers. They were long-time Lawful, Permanent Residents. They were in the process of becoming American Citizens. Julio, a hard working construction worker from New York City, visited his cousin Denis and his wife/children in Philly. Julio and Denis were sitting on Denis' stoop as Denis' wife played with his children in their front yard. After a couple of hours of good conversation, Julio and Denis walked over to the neighborhood pub to visit other family members. As they walked around the corner and down the street, a young gang of juveniles, leaning against a wall, started calling them names. "Spic" "Go Back to Mexico" "You Don't Belong in our Neighborhood!"
Julio and Denis were understandably nervous and turned around to go back to Denis' house. They first backed away. Then it happened. Beyond the slurs, the juveniles started throwing bottles at them. Then they came running after them, chasing them, bringing out knives. Julio and Denis were almost back home when Denis fell to the ground. Julio was scared for his cousin's life. His car was in front of him and he grabbed the safety club from his steering wheel. He picked the club and swung it, to get the criminals away from his cousin. He hit the assailant. The assailant fell and passed out. Later, the assailant fell into a coma. The coma lasted 2 weeks. Ultimately the assailant died. (Years later, it was found he died due to natural causes).
Denis was able to get away from his attackers. He ran to his porch steps. His wife, who had just put their children to bed, asked what was wrong. Denis said, "Call 911. We are being attacked!" Denis' wife called 911. She pleaded for the police to come to save her family from this attack. Denis grabbed a baseball bat to try and save his cousin from the gang of juveniles.
The police came. Though it was clear Denis and his wife called the police and made the report, the police officer did not arrest the perpetrators of the crime. Even though neighbors corroborated what Denis and Julio said, the police initially never took their statements. Though knives and beer bottles were on the street, the police did not take them into evidence. Instead, the Anglo police officers arrested Latinos Denis and Julio.
This incident happened in 1996. Unbelievably, Denis and Julio were initially found guilty. However, years, later, the charges were reversed. Eventually, Denis and Julio were cleared of the charges. There are at least 2 prosecutors who have made their names off of this case and went on to higher office due to the notch on their prosecutorial belts.
I can imagine the ANTIs, reading this are saying, "Those pure innocent Anglo kids. Of course young people get drunk. How dare the Latinos walk in front of them while they are drinking. How dare those Latinos defend themselves against an attack. How dare they call the cops and expect not to be arrested."
Perhaps the weirdest news of this entire event: In 2005, Julio and Denis were charged and convicted with failing to sign their own Deportation Papers back to Peru, a country they had never visited since they were 3 years old. They have been in Federal Prison since 2005 for this technicality. There are NO OTHER CHARGES against them. Julio's release date was moved up a year due to his good behavior. DHS has expressed its intent to deport him once he is released on September 12, 2009. Now, after all of this harassment, Julio is scheduled to be deported on Sept. 12, just a few weeks away. That is, of course, unless some kindly DHS agent takes mercy on him, his children/his family. All he is guilty of is: Walking While Being Latino.
If you feel compelled, please join me and my friend Dave Bennion from Change.org in seeking justice for Julio and Denis. Visit their family website. Seek Justice for Julio and Denis!