Little Attention Is Paid To Police Killings Of Latinos

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The killings of Latinos in encounters with the police do not generate the same level of scrutiny, outrage or discourse as the fatal shootings of blacks, Latino advocates tell the New York Times. “Why isn’t the community aggressively championing the victims of these crimes?” said Juan Cartagena, the president of LatinoJustice, a legal advocacy group, who sees parallels in the strained relationship many African-Americans and Latinos experience with law enforcement. There is no federal clearinghouse that tracks police-related killings, so it is difficult to quantify how many Latinos are killed in encounters with officers. That has left advocates to rely on anecdotal evidence. Even with jurisdictions that include Hispanic or Latino as an option in statistics, the numbers can be unreliable; it is not uncommon for people to be incorrectly classified as white or black. “You don’t know if the tick box is accurate or not,” said criminologist Geoffrey Alpert of the University of South Carolina who has called lack of a police-shootings database a “national embarrassment.”

Cases have roiled Hispanics in different parts of the nation. The fatal shooting of a 19-year-old man in Fullerton, Ca., by California Highway Patrol officers this month led to protests, and the killing of a 17-year-old Denver girl in January 2015 led to similar demonstrations. “There are plenty of high-profile incidents across the country that for one reason or another don’t seem to get the same attention,” said Eric Rodriguez of the National Council of La Raza. “There’s sufficient amount of concern and outrage about what’s happening,” he added. “This tension at the community level, it’s palpable.”

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