Bill Sarno CTLatinoNews.com
Those objecting to Monday’s ruling by the St. Louis County, Mo. grand jury included Jose Calderon, president of Hispanic Federation, a regional network of Latino nonprofit organizations that has built a strong presence in Connecticut.
“We’re outraged by the decision and stand in solidarity with our African-American brothers and sisters in decrying the injustice of what has transpired in Ferguson, and sadly continues to occur all too frequently in communities of color throughout America,” he said Tuesday afternoon.
Some called for working together in the future. Carmelo Rodriguez Jr., a Hispanic political leader in New Britain said, “It is important that communities continue to work together.”
Rodriquez said his “heart goes out” to both the Brown and Wilson families. As a longtime correctional officer and former police commissioner, Rodriquez said he understood the “struggle and danger law enforcers endure daily.”
Last summer, shortly after the unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, was fatally gunned down by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, Calderon had called for a “swift, just investigation.”
In a broader statement issued late Tuesday, the Hispanic Federation said the grand jury announcement Monday was “heartbreaking” and expressed the hope that an ongoing federal investigation will “yield a different, and ultimately, more just result.”
The Hispanic Federation also said the grand jury should have referred this case to trial. “Only there would we have had a full and rigorous examination of the facts of the case,” the press release said.
An expression of “sadness” with the Ferguson decision came from the National Council of La Raza, a national Hispanic civil rights organization, which is represented in the northeast by Yanil Teron, executive director of the Center for Latino Progress in Hartford.
“We stand with the Brown family who must continue to wait for justice for their son,” said Janet Murgula, president and chief executive officer, in a press statement.
“This case,” Murgula said, “is a stern reminder of how encounters between law enforcement and youth of color can result in excessive force and needless loss of life.”
The ongoing distrust between minorities and local police that erupted in disturbances Monday night in Ferguson, Mo. and several cities has a familiar ring to many of the state’s Hispanics.
Two prominent incidents underscored this tension in Connecticut. One involved the use of a stun gun in the arrest of an unarmed Hispanic man in Hartford, for which the officer was exonerated. The other resulted in the exposure and punishment of East Haven police officers for discrimination against Hispanics two years ago.
The NCLR president, as well as other Latino leaders, advocated a “real and honest dialogue” to address relations between police and minority groups.
“We need to recognize that restoring trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve — as so many cities and areas of our country have done — is essential for the safety and well-being of us all,” Murgula said.
The Hispanic Federation said the death of Michael Brown challenged the organization to redouble its work with its network of more than 100 nonprofits, including 11 in Connecticut, and with law enforcement “to make sure that no parent ever has to experience the loss suffered by the Brown family.”
Both the Federation and NCLR expressed condolences to the Brown family, and said they stood in solidarity with the people of Ferguson, Mo.”