Police Harassment and Abuse Cause Hispanics to Leave CT Town

Longstanding, extensive police harassment of Hispanics and Latinos in East Haven, CT appears to have triumphed. The wheels of justice grind so slowly that despite a Justice Department civil rights investigation, the commencement of a criminal investigation by the FBI, and a federal civil rights lawsuit brought by students at Yale, Hispanics are unable and unwilling to continue being subjected to the abuse, selling their homes and moving.

Santiago Malave, a probation officer who works in New Haven, says the racial abuse is so bad that he crosses the town line into East Haven only to go home. He and his wife are now preparing to sell their house and move, joining an exodus of Hispanics who say police have hassled them with traffic stops, false arrests and even jailhouse beatings.

It's not just a few rogue officers. It's a blatant systemic problem. [More...]

From the federal complaint (available on PACER, case no. 10-cv-01692-JBA):

The Town of East Haven and its police department have engaged in a campaign of racial profiling against Latino men and women, singling them out for harassment and worse, and then retaliating against those who dared to oppose or even investigate their misconduct.

This is an action to enforce the rights of the targets of that campaign. As this complaint details, the profiling has included not only hundreds of traffic stops but also more aggressive and violent conduct such as beatings, use of Tasers, false and illegal arrests, conspicuous shows of force designed to disrupt commerce, and even raids of legitimate business, all for the purpose of intimidating the Latino community.

These practices have continued for years without the Town or Police Department acting to check them; just the reverse, the Town and Police Department have promoted continued profiling and have refused to adopt even basic policies - used by police departments large and small throughout the nation - necessary to assure evenhanded law enforcement. Plaintiffs are only a few of the many victims of this campaign. They seek damages for their individual injuries and injunctive relief to require the Town and the Police Department to stop the profiling campaign and to comply with basic principles of American law enforcement that they have systematically ignored for years.

The defendants include David Cari, Cheryl Conyers, John Does, Town of East Haven, East Haven Police Dept, Vincent Ferrara, Leonard Gallo, Edward Lennon, Frank Montagna, David Olson, Michael Sorbo, Dennis Spaulding, and Jason Zullo.

The New Haven Independent has been following the story for a few years.

Why isn't the abuse stopping? The police chief was put on unpaid leave a while ago. Following the Justice Department's preliminary findings, a few police procedures were modified.

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    Sounds like Connecticut... (none / 0) (#1)
    by kdog on Mon Dec 27, 2010 at 04:01:35 PM EST
    East Haven's loss, another community's gain...I can't blame latinos for moving out, it's a shame and shouldn't be necessary in America, in 2010, but at the end of the day your quality of life is what matters, doesn't sound like there is any in East Anti-Haven.  My heart bleeds for those stuck in such a place.

    I'd love to sit those defendants whose names end in vowels with their deceased forebearers, who were treated much the same 100 years ago as the latinos are today.  Wetback is the new wop.