Monday, October 24, 2005

The Morning Retch: Racial Profiling in Katrina's aftermath

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According to Janet Murguia, of the National Council of La Raza in an oped in today's Washington Post: "The Wall Street Journal reported early this month that 'police and the U.S. Marshals Service swept into a Red Cross shelter for hurricane refugees [in Long Beach, Miss.]. They blocked the parking lot and exits and demanded identification from about 60 people who looked Hispanic, including some pulled out of the shower and bathroom, according to witnesses.'" They aimed to deport "illegal" hurricane evacuees.

What in the world is "looked Hispanic?" That's a category in the Marshals' fevered brains. Maybe they thought they'd find folks lazing around under broad brim hats?

In fact, among others, they found "at least one shelter manager, a former Marine and a Vietnam veteran who happened to be Hispanic. …[He] was also temporarily detained and screened."

The U.S. Keystone Cops would be funny, if they weren't messing with people whose lives had already been blown to bits. Murguia makes a point for all of us:

If there were an outbreak of communicable disease in Katrina's wake -- which is not unthinkable under the circumstances -- the last thing you want to do is convince a segment of the nation's largest minority that the government is not a safe source of preventive care and treatment. If, God forbid, the next crisis involves a biological weapon or an influenza outbreak, the government has just undermined its ability to keep us all safe. Lives are on the line, and not just the lives of the immigrants we too often find expendable.

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