August 21, 2008

Residents Protest Police Department

HOUSTON -- Residents protested at the Pasadena Police Department on Thursday, demanding change, KPRC Local 2 reported.

The demonstrators accuse Pasadena police officers of unfairly targeting Hispanics in the community.

The group includes Rosa Perez, who said she was pulled over and thrown in jail after making a right turn at a red light.

"I'm not crying. I don't want to cry, but I feel nervous," Perez said.

When she refused to sign the ticket, Perez said the officer arrested her and told her he was going to search her car for drugs.

She claimed the officer harassed her and then tried to get her to tell him which bar she was at the night before.

"I have a family. I have my husband. I have everything," Perez said.

"And you weren't in the bar?" KPRC Local 2 reporter Carl Willis asked.

"Exactly. What bar?" she said.

Members of the civil rights group, The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, said this is just one of many instances of unfair treatment.

So, they held their protest in the lobby of the police department, demanding to talk to Police Chief Mike Jackson and share their stories.

"The more people tell it from one person to another, the stories get bigger and scarier," said Jose Nino, with ACORN.

The protesters have a list of questions for the chief, including which forms of identification are acceptable, how undocumented residents can report crime and how the ethnic makeup of the police force compares to the city.

"More than 60 percent are Latinos and the police department needs to see the same," said Alain Cisneros with ACORN.

Despite the demonstration, the chief's office passed along the message that the group would have to make an appointment for a meeting, which was a frustrating end to the rally, protesters said.

"We want to have equal rights as everyone else and that's what we're trying to achieve," Nino said.

"I want to see everything change, especially the police," Perez said.

ACORN members held a meeting last month with more than 100 in attendance. They said the police chief did not attend.

The chief said he would be more than willing to meet with representatives if he is given more notice.

He said he was unaware that protesters were at the station because he was out of the office at a meeting.

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