Salt Lake City, Utah – Two stories of youth were at the forefront of today’s LULAC Unity Luncheon at the 86th Annual National Convention.
Salt Lake City Interim Police Chief, Mike Brown, told a story about a man that grew up here. Jerry spent 32 years as a police officer with the Salt Lake City police department. He was officer of the year in 1982, and throughout his career as a detective, participated in 100 homicide investigations. Yet, when Jerry was just three days old, he and his mother were deported, tearing up the family. Several years later, his father an American citizen, was deported because he could not prove his citizenship.
Brown spoke about the role of the police and the relationship with the community it is meant to protect, racial profiling and excessive use of force, along with police officers role in enforcement of immigration laws.
“His mother was afraid of the police,” said Brown about Jerry.
“In a nation swelling with social unrest, this city isn’t as diverse as many. We work to minimize conflicts. We humanize policing and ensure officers do their job without bias. Criminal activity thrives on the weak, the scared, the marginalized. I believe we can only do our jobs effectively when we have the trust and respect of the community we serve. Immigration is not a criminal issue. Requiring police to enforce federal immigration law undermines (that trust). In police work, every second matters. Every relationship matters.”
“Jerry and I want to do it better,” he added. “We want to invest in a diverse police department. Our public service is to all publics. You have my word on that.”
The second story of a young Latino was told by Francisco de la Torre, executive director of the Institute for Mexicans Abroad. As a representative from the Mexican Government, Department of Education and the Mexican Embassy, de la Torre presented the Ohtli Award to Manuel Rendon, national vice president for young adults, the youngest ever to be an Ohtli honoree.
“Hispanic and immigrant youth continue to face challenges,” said de la Torre. “At only 17 years old, Manuel founded a LULAC council... working to expand opportunities for Latino youth...opening the way for Hispanic and other immigrants in this country.”
Born in Oklahoma City and currently living in Frisco, Texas, Rendon began working on immigration reform with LULAC in 2006. Rendon acknowledged, that “serving is a supreme art. I’m just a messenger.”
He humbly says his success is because he belongs to “a golden generation of Hispanic youth in America... a testament of the caliber of young Hispanic youth who have done much to transcend generational and cultural gaps. He believes “developing a culture of voting among Hispanic youth will be key. Recently, a lot of derogatory remarks have been made about our community, and even though we have shown our economic impact, if we truly want to make a difference we have to make it at the voting booth.”
The ‘Ohtli Award’ is bestowed upon Latino leaders who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to the advancement of Mexican communities abroad. In the Nahuatl language, the word Ohtli means “path” and it is presented to distinguished individuals who have worked to promote the prosperity and empowerment of Mexicans and Latinos in the United States.
All convention activities, except meal events, are free and open to the public. For more information on the concert call 877-LULAC-01 or log onto www.LULAC.Org/Convention.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.lulac.org.
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