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Even The Dead Are Not Equal

From Hoy
May 3, 2002

By Javier Castano

What do Jose Colon, Ricardo Carlon and Santiago Villanueva have in common? All three were killed by police in questionable situations.

Carlon, who is Puerto Rican, was "accidentally killed by three shots" in Suffolk county, Long Island. Colon, of Mexican origin, was riddled with bullets for "not detaining" when an ex-police officer in Staten Island ordered him to do so. And Villanueva, who was born in the Dominican Republic, suffered an epileptic seizure. He asked for an ambulance but the New Jersey police were sent instead, and he ended up handcuffed and beaten to death.

These three Latinos died during the last two weeks when they were in police custody. Either we have become accustomed to these types of deaths, or the Latino community has lost its orientation. Latino activists and public officials are keeping quiet about these incidents. They have held sporadic vigils and protests, but a leader has not come forward to guide the community and demand a response.

The police characteristically protect their own, but we cannot allow these types of crimes to go on as if those killed were simple criminals or people who do not deserve society’s attention. If these types of "accidents" had occurred in other communities, such as the Jewish or African-American communities, their leaders would already be calling for federal intervention and the arrest of the agents that pulled the trigger.

The only thing that we can do is present these facts before a public prosecutor. We must demand an investigation and wait for a jury to decide the degree to which these agents are guilty.

Translated from Spanish by Erica Pearson 

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