Though headlines refer to the "shocking" details of those killed by law enforcement in the past year, the sad reality is that these events aren't shocking to the millions of Americans living in communities full of distrust for local police. Due to the extremely complicated history between minorities and authorities in this country, many Latinos in the United States share a fear and suspicion of the figures meant to protect them.
This tense dynamic of distrusting those relied on for safety comes through in poll data from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Latino Decisions. Results show that though 84% of Latinos believe police are there to protect them, 68% also worry law enforcement is willing to use excessive force against Latinos; 18% report having friends or family members who have experienced police brutality.
So far this year, 125 Latinos have been killed by police, according to The Guardian. Of those 125, 57% of them were not carrying a firearm and 20% were completely unarmed. With the prevalence of smartphones and new media, recordings of questionable police practices are publicizing problems that are centuries old. People have taken to Twitter and Facebook to share their stories of mistreatment from authorities, illuminating what is common knowledge in some communities, but previously unheard of in others.
As more people speak up, more will take note of the prevalence of these issues. This is why NCLR is launching "And Justice for All," a blog series profiling Latino relations with local police. By lifting Latino experiences to the national level, otherwise untold stories can contribute to these long-overdue conversations. The overwhelming interest in our workshop "An Untold Story: Abusive Policing and Lost Latino Lives" at the NCLR Annual Conference in July underscored the need to raise more Latino voices now.
In the series, you'll hear from an Affiliate who sees injustice in the community every day and has engaged local police about it. A police officer will share an insider's perspective of current law enforcement practices. Youth who otherwise felt silenced will finally be able to speak.
As we've all seen, talking about these issues can lead to uncomfortable -- and sometimes intense -- discussions. These stories are not always easy to tell or hear, but change cannot happen unless we agree that it must.
This was first posted to the NCLR Blog.