Moral Low Ground

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Racist Slurs, Death Threats, False Arrests & Police Brutality Drive Hispanics from Connecticut Town

Santiago Malave says racial abuse by police against Hispanics in the idyllic town of East Haven, Connecticut is so bad that he cannot drive through his own town without fearing harassment.

Malave is planning on packing up his belongings, selling his house and moving his family out of town. They wouldn’t be the only ones– more than half the town’s Hispanic population of 1,900 has already left. What makes Mr. Malave different, and some would argue more credible, when it comes to allegations of police misconduct and brutality is that he is himself a law enforcement officer.

“We can’t tolerate the town anymore,” the 64-year-old  parole officer told the Associated Press. “For us to leave our beautiful home is something that hurts, but we can’t deal with these people.”

When Malave, who has lived in East Haven since 1977, tried to talk to a police sergeant about the blatant discrimination, he was told point-blank that “you Spics don’t have rights here.”

Allegations of racial profiling are old news in this predominantly Italian-American town of 28,000. Many Latino immigrants have moved to East Haven in recent years and the local police have proven themselves to be highly hostile to their presence. Now the US Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation and nine Hispanic immigrants have filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court against the East Haven Police Department. And racial profiling is just the tip of the iceberg.

Yadanny Garcia alleges that he was stopped and ordered to the ground by officers who shocked him three times with a Taser gun, beat him, and told him to “go back to [his] country.”

Jose Luis Albaraccin was arrested after he questioned a police officer, hauled off to the police station, sprayed with pepper gas and beaten.

When Edgar Torres told police officers he would complain that he’d been Tasered four times for no reason, one of them threatened to kill him.

These are but a few of the allegations against the East Haven Police Department. Officers have also harassed out-of-town patrons of local Hispanic businesses, ticketing and towing cars, removing license plates and harassing Latinos for no other reason than their ethnicity. “They destroyed our future here,” lamented Mario Marin, who owns a once-busy restaurant.

The injustice isn’t just directed against Hispanics. When Reverend James Manship, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in New Haven, tried to videotape police harassment of Latinos last year, police arrested him.

The problem isn’t limited to just a handful of police officers, either. “It isn’t that it’s a bunch of bad apples,” said David Rosen, a lawyer from next-door New Haven who is filing the lawsuit along with the Worker and Immigrant Right Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School, also located in New Haven. “The problem is structural,” Rosen told the New York Times. Yale law students analyzed eight months of traffic tickets in East Haven. Almost 60% were issued to Latinos, who make up only about 7% of the town’s population.

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7 Comments

  1. ellieDecember 26, 2010 at 5:22 pmReply

    I was raised in this town and couldn’t leave fast enough once grown. Many racists in East Haven.

    • BrettDecember 26, 2010 at 7:30 pmReplyAuthor

      Always nice to hear from people who live in places we write about. Shame about East Haven, though; it looks like such a nice place to live until you start hearing stories like this.

  2. SpenglerMay 24, 2011 at 12:14 amReply

    Replace spic with gringo and it sounds like something a mexican cop would say after you ask why you have to pay him.

    • Brett WilkinsMay 24, 2011 at 12:24 amReplyAuthor

      And your stereotypical Mexican cop is the standard to which you would hold us here?

      • SpenglerSeptember 3, 2011 at 12:00 amReply

        If I did or didnt what would change that reality?

  3. SpenglerSeptember 3, 2011 at 12:02 amReply

    This “study” is just like prison populations. All I can say about this particular instance is there are far too many illegal mexicans driving without insurance or papers and causing accidents and killing people. This is the systems fault for allowing this situation to persist.

  4. EsmeMarch 4, 2012 at 5:22 pmReply

    Spengler, and you continue with your stereotypes?

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