LULAC SAYS TEXAS EMPOWERMENT OF DPS TROOPERS IN AUSTIN HITS LATINOS HARD
Nation's Oldest and Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Says Data on Law Enforcement Actions Demands U.S. Justice Department Investigation
April 28, 2023
For more information, contact David Cruz at (818) 689-9991
Washington, DC - The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is expressing strong opposition to the recent actions of the State of Texas, which have empowered the Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers to conduct law enforcement actions on the streets of Austin. LULAC's General Counsel, Gloria Leal, emphasizes that while the organization supports the safety and well-being of all residents in all areas of the city, law enforcement must strike a fair and equitable balance when targeting neighborhoods for stepped-up patrols.
"LULAC categorically rejects and condemns any form of racial profiling that violates the civil rights of Latinos or any other community," says Leal. "It is with deep concern that we address the recently released data, which reveals a disturbing picture of the impact of the pact between the City of Austin's Police Department (APD) and DPS on communities of color. Shockingly, nine out of every ten individuals arrested or cited as a result of this new action are Latino or Black," says Leal.
Since March 30, 2023, Latinos accounted for 62% - 69% of those impacted by law enforcement actions, while Blacks represented 20% - 25% and Whites 7% -17%. This trend persists through April 22, 2023. Comparatively, Latinos make up only 34.5% of the population in Austin.
Cynthia Valadez, LULAC District VII Director, warns that "the combined law enforcement efforts of DPS and APD set a dangerous precedent." Her concerns echo those voiced by Texas LULAC State Director Rodolfo Rosales, who recently stated, "LULAC strongly opposes any law enforcement actions that profile Latinos, or any other community based on race, ethnicity, or skin color. Similarly, LULAC is against police or state trooper swarm tactics that target areas specifically because persons of color densely populate them. Governor Abbott's actions smack of using his cadre of brown-shirt stormtroopers to do his bidding."
LULAC will not remain silent as these troopers fan out across sections of Austin, potentially placing innocent, law-abiding people in harm's way. While LULAC supports the APD's efforts to address low-level crime in local neighborhoods and acknowledges the 58% drop in crime "hot spots," it also recognizes the need for fairness and justice in law enforcement practices.
LULAC's National President, Domingo Garcia, demanded that the U.S. Justice Department investigate and thoroughly review the data and practices of both the APD and DPS. "LULAC agrees that the well-being of our communities is of paramount concern. However, we will not tolerate a 'them-vs-us' mindset that stereotypes Latinos as criminals and racially profiles them for stops and arrests. LULAC seeks a meeting with the Texas Department of Public Safety director, Austin's Mayor, and APD Chief Joseph Chacon. We want to discuss concrete steps that can be taken to ensure that DPS troopers do not disproportionately target and apprehend individuals in our barrios for even minor infractions that are overlooked in other areas. Justice demands that enforcement be color-blind.
Further, LULAC urges the APD, DPS, and the City of Austin to acknowledge and appreciate the tremendous contributions of hard-working, law-abiding Latinos in this community. Regrettably, these contributions are often overlooked, which is shameful and a sham," says Garcia.