Pasadena Police, Hispanics Can't Get Together

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Fifty members of Pasadena’s Hispanic community paid a visit to Interim Police Chief M. P. Jackson this morning, hand-delivering invitations to attend an ACORN-sponsored community meeting.

Alain Cisneros, ACORN community organizer, talked to Hair Balls after the protest and said, “We’ve invited him several times and he hasn’t shown up, he hasn’t responded. We don’t know how else to ask him.”

Cisneros says Pasadena’s Latinos have several concerns which they would like to discuss with Jackson, including the department’s use of racial profiling, a lack of public access to the department’s Internal Affairs division, clarifications as to the department’s policy regarding the immigration status of crime victims and the lack of Spanish language translators in the department and city offices.

“The stories that we’ve heard are that the police department or city offices look for a janitor or maintenance man to translate in criminal and official cases. That’s ridiculous," he says.

“A different kind of community exists in Pasadena now and there should be some investment in providing that community with police officers and city workers that speak the same language as the people they serve,” says Cisneros.

The ACORN organizer says that the majority of Pasadena’s residents are now Hispanic, but that the city has made no attempt to improve services for or community relations with the group. (The 2000 census had Pasadena Hispanics making up 48 percent of the population, but that was eight years ago.)

“We’re talking about the city’s entire Hispanic community which includes people in all types of situations, including American citizens. They’re all suffering because of unjust treatment by the police department. If they’re criminals, they should be investigated. The police should follow the letter of the law. But people who aren’t doing anything wrong, to be treated like criminals simply because of their ethnic group, that can’t happen," he says.

“We just want him to agree to meet with the community and listen to their concerns and stories...We’ve had large meetings with 150 people, even with 400 people, but the police chief won’t address those either. We’re giving him the opportunity to come to the community and state his policies and procedures. Those were 400 people, representing 400 families, that want some answers."

And what was Jackson’s response to ACORN’s visit? He wasn’t there. An assistant received the invitations and said he would deliver them. He also said he had a message to the group from Jackson: Call the office and ask for an appointment.

Olivia Flores Alvarez

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