The Dead Are Not Equal
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 societys 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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