Culture

A Police Department In California Is Suiting Up Its Officers In Charro Uniforms

With efforts to better connect with it’s largely Latino community, the Salinas Police Department is trying on a new look in the form of a charro suit. Robert Hernandez was one of several police officers that donned the traditional Mexican outfit at the California Rodeo Salinas back on July 16-19. But if Salinas police are looking for any signs that the outfits were a success, their Facebook page has since been flooded with community support and appreciation for the gesture. 

The charro outfits represent pride, tradition, and chivalry in Mexican culture. So for many in the Latino community, the suit went a long way in bridging a relationship with local law enforcement. 

Credit: @KRON4News / Twitter

This is the first year that police officers wore the charro outfit and helped patrol the rodeo, which is the largest event in the mostly agricultural city. Police Chief Adele Fresé said that by having officers put on the charro suit she hopes many in the community see themselves when they interact with authorities. 

These efforts are emboldened by recent tensions between police and communities of color across the United States and President Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. 

Salinas, where more than three-quarters of residents are Latino, has had its share of tensions between residents and police. Back in 2014, major demonstrations erupted when police shot and killed four Latino men. All of the officers involved in the incident would eventually be cleared of any crime. The shootings proved to be a sour moment between community and police officers as many pointed to the case as an example of the excessive force and prejudice in the department.    

“We’re going to recognize, by wearing this charro suit, we’re validating our community’s heritage and culture,” Fresé told the Californian. And we’re going to demonstrate that we value the rich history of the people we’re sworn to protect and serve.”

One officer wasn’t too sure how to feel about putting on the outfit at first. But after seeing a positive reaction from the community, he knew it was the right choice. 

Credit: @mentalammo / Twitter

When Officer Hernandez’s parents went to see their son on duty at the rodeo, they were shocked. He didn’t have his usual black police outfit on and a giant sombrero had replaced his regular cap. Hernandez’s parents were in tears after seeing him in the charro outfit. 

“When they came here, that was for me and my siblings to have a better future and have a better success than they were in Mexico,” Hernandez told the Californian in regards to his parents. “For me to represent that, it was an honor not only for them but me as well.”

But for Hernandez, donning the traditional outfit wasn’t an easy choice. He told the LA Times he was a bit worried at first at what some people’s reaction might be to the new look. 

“I’m not going to lie, I was nervous,” Hernandez said about putting the charro outfit on at the rodeo. “We didn’t want to offend anybody.”

When he saw men, women, and children lining up to take photos with him, he knew how special the gesture meant to the community. Hernandez also realized that many community members aren’t able to return to their birthplaces and families because of their legal status. So the charro outfit in many ways reminded them of home. 

“Our main goal is to get involved and build a relationship with the community,” Hernandez said. “This is so they feel right at home more finally, and go right from there.”

The Salinas Police Department already has plans to have officers don the outfit at another event in September. 

Credit: @mmcphate / Twitter

With the positive reaction the police department has received in the community and on social media, there is plans to bring back the charro suit in September. Hernandez is expected to wear the blue outfit once more at a Mexican Independence Day event called “El Grito” on Sept 16.

While the charro suit was donated to Salinas resident Ricky Cabrera’s late father, Alfonso, who was a charro himself, the department plans to return it. The plan is to hopefully receive donations for two new outfits, one for both male and female officers for next year’s rodeo. 

The police department feels that the outfit is the first step in the right direction when it comes to rebuilding community trust. Fresé hopes people see these efforts for what they are and can start a longer conversation between police and local residents. 

“Pretty much most of my life has been in the Hispanic community, and I have a good grasp of our culture and what people appreciate,” Fresé told the LA Times. “I do believe there’s a hunger for validation. I hoped the community would understand this is not a novelty.”

READ: An Autopsy Reveals Harrowing New Details About A Guatemalan Teen Who Died In Border Patrol Custody

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A 1-Year-Old Was Shot In The Head By Houston Police, Now He’s Fighting For His Life

Things That Matter

A 1-Year-Old Was Shot In The Head By Houston Police, Now He’s Fighting For His Life

Updated March 24, 2021.

The police of Houston are under fire again after it was revealed that a 1-year-old boy was shot in the head by an officer earlier this month. The tragic incident happened on March 3.

At the time Daisha Smalls was at a gas station filling up her car when she saw police cars and sirens.

According to Smalls, she was sitting inside of her car when a man approached her and told her to get out of her car.

At the time of the attempted hijacking, Smalls’ son Legend, was in the backseat.

“I wouldn’t give him my car because I let him know that I have a child in my car and that I would not leave my car without my son,” Smalls explained. The man then pushed his way into the car and attempted to hijack the vehicle.  

Police shot into Smalls’ car and killed the suspect who’d forced his way onto her lap. The police also injured her son Legend.

The 1-year-old was struck in the head with a bullet.

“I was just scared for my son’s life,” Smalls explained in a recent interview. Smalls went onto share that her son “didn’t deserve to be shot, especially not by the police.” According to reports, doctors removed part of Legend’s skull to make space for brain swelling. They were able to remove the bullet but small fragments from the bullet remain.

“He’s had multiple seizures, over 10 seizures, he’s still fighting for his life,” he explained.

Antonio Romanucci, co-counsel to Smalls’ lawyer said they are still investigating the incident but that the Houston police “can anticipate a lawsuit being filed shortly.”

Earlier this month, Houston Police Department Executive Assistant Chief Troy Finner claimed that Smalls was not in the car at the time of the hijacking. The hijacker was 30 and the suspect of two armed robberies. Police told him to drop his weapon and when he refused an officer fired several shots at him. The man died at the scene.

Finner claimed that the police officer was unaware that Legend was in the car. 

“Fearing for the mother’s safety, one of our officers discharged his duty weapon, fatally striking the suspect,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said in a statement shared to Twitter. “Sadly, baby Legend was also struck. Officers at the scene immediately rendered first aid to Legend… We are hoping and praying for the full and speedy recovery of little one-year-old Legend Smalls.”

Small’s attorney, Ben Crump explained that the clerk at the gas station told ABC13 that there is a surveillance video of the shooting.

“Why would they shoot knowing she was in the car? Not knowing who else was in the car. There could have been children, there could’ve been others in the car, but they shot,” Crump explained. “Regrettably and tragically, little Legend will live the rest of his life with the consequences of their decision to shoot into his mama’s car even though they knew she was in there.”

The attorney to Smalls, who has disputed police accounts that she was out of the car when the shooting began, has said that they expect to file a lawsuit in regards to the incident.

“Were the actions of the Houston Police Department both objective and reasonable under the circumstances?”Romanucci commented at a recent news conference according to The New York Times. “Clearly the answer is no.”

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Turns Out The First Owner Of Beverly Hills Was An Impressive Afro-Mexican Woman

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Turns Out The First Owner Of Beverly Hills Was An Impressive Afro-Mexican Woman

Beverly Hills, one of the most well-known destinations in the country and world has long been a thriving and prime area for real-estate. Long before it was colonized by the Spanish, and was largely populated by rich white elites, the Indigenous people of California known as the Tongva, thrived there.

Hundreds of years later, in the 1830s, when the area was colonized, Maria Rita Valdez Villa, the granddaughter of Spanish colonists Luis and Maria Quintero and the great-granddaughter of an African slave was granted the original 4,500-acre of Beverly Hills, then known as El Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas.

Yes, as it turns out the foremother of Beverly Hills was a Black Latina!

During her ownership, Maria Rita oversaw cattle ranching and farming.

According to LA Magazine, Rita “was well known for holding a yearly celebratory rodeo under a famous eucalyptus tree at what is now Pico and Robertson boulevards.”

Sadly, after working the land for so much time, three Indigenous Californian outlaws attacked the ranch in 1852. The attack led to a shootout amongst “a grove of walnut trees at what is now Benedict Canyon and Chevy Chase drives” and eventually in 1854 Maria Rita decided to sell the area to investors Henry Hancock and Benjamin D. Wilson for $4,000.

Perhaps there’s a chance for justice for Maria Rita in the end.

Recently, Los Angeles County officials revealed that they were contemplating returning a beachfront property that was seized from a Black family nearly a century ago.

According to the Guardian, Manhattan Beach used “eminent domain” in 1924 to force Willa and Charles Bruce, the city’s first Black landowners, of the land where they lived. “The Bruces also ran a resort for Black families during a time when beaches in the strand were segregated,” explained the Guardian in a recent report. “Part of the land was developed into a city park. It is now owned by Los Angeles county and houses lifeguard headquarters and a training center.”

Manhattan Beach county Supervisor Janice Hahn announced that she was looking into ways to restore justice for Bruce family. Options include delivering the land back to the family, paying for losses, or potentially leasing the property from them

“I wanted the county of Los Angeles to be a part of righting this terrible wrong,” Hahn explained in a recent interview with KABC-TV.

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