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Police Brutality Toward Latinos Is Up but Fails to Get Coverage, Undocummented Immigrants Have 'Fear' of Contacting Authorities

First Posted: Jun 10, 2015 04:03 PM EDT
Police Brutality

Photo : Getty/Mark Wilson

National news and protests barely notice the police brutality against Latinos in America, though there have been 67 recorded fatal incidents in 2015 alone, according to The Guardian.

Twenty-year-old unarmed Guatemalan national and undocumented immigrant Amilcar Perez-Lopez was fatally shot by police officers in San Francisco, just a couple blocks away from murals of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Bystanders who witnessed the shooting have not talked to officials because they are undocumented immigrants as well.

"For the immigrant community, there is always a serious fear of having contact with authorities," said Arnoldo Casillas, lead attorney for the Perez-Lopez family. "Especially for eyewitnesses when they see somebody, like in Amilcar's case, shot in cold blood. It drives them underground."

Police brutality has been making headlines in the media especially when white police officers kill unarmed black people. Yet, the voices of Latinos are barely heard among the outcry for police reform.

"I've always been surprised that when there are Latino deaths at the hands of police officers, that the groundswell of concern, of anger, of frustration doesn't rise to the level that it does in some other shootings," Casillas said.

There is a long list of Latinos who have been killed at the hands of police including 31-year-old Mexican national Ruben Garcia Villalpando, 17-year-old Jessica Hernandez and 35-year-old Mexican migrant worker Antonio Zambrano-Montes.

None of the above shootings have gained national coverage, forcing CNN to ask if Latino lives matter. Reports from last year show that the number of Latinos being killed by police officers is up by 30 percent.

CNN also points out that while unarmed black people, such as Freddy Gray from South Carolina, become national symbols of police brutality, unarmed Latino people like Zambrano-Montes, who was killed before Gray, do not.

"People tend to think that anything that has to do with immigrants is related to immigration reform. They stop thinking about us otherwise," said Eric Rodriguez, vice-president for the National Council of La Raza.

The VP of the largest Latino civil rights group added that immigrants are constantly harassed by police as well.

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