Hispanic and residents of the largely Italian-American town of east Haven are leaving, fleeing what they say is incessant police harassment. The United States Department of Justice has subsequently opened a civil rights investigation into some of the officers, though complainants state the entire force has a problem.
According to this Associated Press report, claims of profiling by the police began a few years back when the Hispanic population in the small town started growing. Currently, only about 7% of the population is Hispanic, coming from Mexico and Ecuador.
Hispanic business owners state that officers made a habit of parking outside of their store fronts and harassing their customers, threatening them with calls to immigration enforcement. One business owner is facing charges of child neglect for letting his son play right out in front of his grocery store that caters to the immigrant population.
That business owner has placed his store, Los Amigos Grocery, up for sale stating he can’t keep it afloat amid the harassment. He invested $120,000 in his business, something he states he wouldn’t do again knowing how the police would treat his customers.
The East Haven Police Chief denies that any of his officers are guilty of racial profiling or harassment. The Mayor has revealed, however, that the FBI was investigating and there were potential criminal cases in the works on some of the officers. Although the residents have said problems have declined slightly since the federal investigation, they continue to move to different towns and some even back to their native countries.
It’s against the law for law enforcement to harass someone solely based on their race or nationality. When there are allegations of officers not only targeting certain individuals and businesses but also using racial slurs when addressing foreign-born residents, there is a definite problem.
There’s a lot of doubt in my mind that an officer can fairly and justly enforce the law when they view a certain population (Hispanics in this case) in a negative light before they even clock in. If they see ridding the town of immigrants as part of their job, they are certainly in the wrong profession.
Although profiling can be difficult to prove, if you are facing charges and believe you were unfairly targeted, it’s something you should look at when discussing the case with your Connecticut defense lawyer.
A criminal defense attorney can objectively evaluate your case and give you a good idea of your options and potential solutions. They will also be there to ensure your Constitutional rights are protected as you journey through the Connecticut criminal justice system.