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Cross-Border Cops Arrest Father Jim

by Thomas MacMillan | Mar 3, 2009 12:58 pm

(75) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Immigrants, Legal Writes

022709_027.jpgA city priest crossed into East Haven to document what he called systematic and sometimes violent police harassment of Latinos — only to find himself arrested and his camera confiscated.

The priest is Father James Manship, pastor of the Saint Rose of Lima church in Fair Haven. He is scheduled to appear in New Haven’s State Superior Court Wednesday morning in connection with his arrest by East Haven police.

As the head of a parish with a growing population of newcomers from Latin America, Manship has been an outspoken advocate for Ecuadorians and other immigrants.

The priest’s advocacy work has recently extended across the nearby border into East Haven, where Latino business owners say that East Haven police have been targeting their customers for harassment. The business owners said that Latino customers are afraid to come to their shops, for fear of being threatened and ticketed by police officers.

East Haven police adamantly denied targeted or harassing Latino businesses or customers.

On the evening of his arrest, at around 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 19, Father Manship walked into My Country Store, a convenience store in East Haven run by Ecuadorians. Inside, the police were removing over 60 expired license plates that had been hung as decorations in the store. The license plates were government property, the officers had said, and they were confiscating them.

Manship entered the shop, took out a digital camera, and began videotaping the East Haven police officers who were removing license plates from a wall in the rear of the store.

The officers immediately ordered Manship to stop videotaping, seized his camera and put him under arrest, according to Manship. Within minutes of his arrival, everyone in the store fell silent as Father Manship was led out in handcuffs. He was charged with interfering with a police officer and creating a public disturbance.

Click the play arrow to see Manship escorted in handcuffs from My Country Store. The shop’s security cameras recorded Manship entering as an officer was leaving, carrying license plates. The arrest occurred off camera.

As of Tuesday, 12 days after Manship’s arrest, a police report had not yet been filed, according to East Haven Police Department spokesman Lt. Joseph Slane. Slane confirmed that Father Manship had been arrested but said that he couldn’t provided any details.

Security Cameras

022709_020.jpg“The police have always come in, to buy ice creams and snacks. They never said anything about the license plates,” said Wilfred Matute, the owner of My Country Store, taking a break from stocking the shelves on a recent evening. Matute (at left in photo, with his wife, Marcia Chacon, next to him) said that some officers had even admired the license plates, until one officer suddenly ordered them taken down.

“He said, ‘This is illegal. This is for the government. You rent the plates from the government. You have to give these to me right now,’” Matute recalled.

Matute said that he had showed the officer the price tags still on some of the plates from when he had bought them at tag sales. But the officer was unmoved, and Matute took down the license plates one by one with a screwdriver.

After the police arrested the priest, they noticed that the store was equipped with security cameras. Elio Cruz, a leader in New Haven’s Virgen Del Cisne Ecuadorian community, was in the store that night. “When [the police officers] realized there was videotaping from My Country Store, they went crazy,” Cruz recalled later. “They said it was illegal and they tried to grab the computer.”

Matute said that three officers entered the back room without his permission and searched the shelves in his storeroom. When they found the hard drive containing the store’s digital security camera footage, they wanted to take it, but Matute wouldn’t let them, he said. Matute said that the officers then called a detective to bring a video camera to record the security footage off of the computer screen, but the detective’s camera didn’t work.

Click the play arrow to see three East Haven police officers searching the back room and talking to Matute about his security camera computer and monitor, in the back left, behind the brown bookcase.

022709_018.jpgAfter 45 minutes, the police left, with most of Matute’s license plate collection. They let him keep a few antique plates, including two from Matute’s native Ecuador.

Asked why the police would have searched the backroom for the security camera footage, Slane said, “I have no answer for that.”

“A Toxic Iceberg”

“My arrest is the tip of a toxic iceberg,” said Father Manship, during a recent visit back to My Country Store. Manship said that there has been an ongoing campaign of racial profiling, threats, and discrimination perpetrated by the East Haven police department against Latinos and Latino businesses in East Haven.

022709_035.jpgAccording to Father Manship, and Latino business owners interviewed, members of the East Haven police department make a practice of parking their cruisers outside of businesses like My Country Store, Guti’z Bakery, La Bamba restaurant, and Los Amigos grocery, waiting for Latino customers to exit and then pulling them over as soon as they drive out of the parking lot. The police then allegedly shout and swear at the drivers and passengers, demanding identification, car registration, and insurance. Latino drivers have been issued exorbitant tickets, had their cars towed, and been told to get out of town, the business owners said.

The owners said police officers punch holes in licenses and throw out-of-state licenses to the ground, saying that they are worthless. Two store owners said that the police ripped in half the license of one out of state driver.

In the most egregious example of alleged police action against Latinos, Father Manship and Elio Cruz said that the East Haven police department recently arrested four Latino men, and beat two of them up in the police station, splitting their lips and bruising their faces. One of these men was sprayed with pepper spray while handcuffed in the back of a cruiser, on the way to the station.

“That’s the kind of thing that’s happening here. They’re torturing people,” said Manship.

Four different Latino business owners said that although the police harassment has come from several officers, there is one officer in particular responsible for the majority of the harassment. But Manship thinks that the problem is greater than any single individual.

“One has to ask about policy and procedures in the East Haven police department,” Manship said. “Officers aren’t supervised and given training on how to deal with a diverse community.”

“There’s a breakdown of internal control,” he said.

“Terrorized”

Father Manship said that police harassment in East Haven has been going on since June of last year. Before that, racial profiling had begun on Route 80, where East Haven police were pulling Latino drivers over for harassment.

“They’re stopped for nothing,” Manship said. “They’re singled out because they’re Latino over and over and over again.”

Since the harassment moved to East Haven, Latino businesses have suffered. Customers are afraid to come to the stores.

022809_003.jpgMatute, who has owned My Country Store (pictured) for 10 years, said that the police patrol his parking lot and confiscate out-of-state license plates from cars parked in front of his store.

He said his customers are stopped when they drive out of the parking lot. They are ordered out of the car and told, “You need to go to New Haven, where the garbage is.” and “I don’t want to see you in this town.”

Matute’s brother-in-law, Fernando Chacon (at right in group photo above), said he was handcuffed for driving a car with tinted windows. Chacon demonstrated how the officer had threatened him with a ballpoint pen, holding it at his neck. Chacon was given a $250 ticket.

As a result of the harassment, “the customers don’t come,” Matute said. “Everybody calls me and says ‘I can’t come to the store.’”

Matute said that he has started giving out PINs for international calling cards over the phone to his customers, because they are afraid to come to the store to buy them. He has a box full of calling cards in use that his customers have promised to pay him for.

With no customers coming in, Matute is worried about paying his bills. “I need to pay the rent, to pay for the lights,” said Matute. He has an $800 electricity bill due next week.

“These people are on the point of losing their businesses,” said Father Manship. “People are terrorized. That’s the word they use.”

Asked about police harassment of Latinos, Slane, the police spokesman, said that cars are towed for a variety of reasons and “people are going to get tickets if their cars aren’t registered.”

Are Latinos being targeted specifically? “I don’t believe so,” he said, declining to comment further.

“People Are Afraid”

022809_006.jpgDown Main Street, Guti’z Bakery storeowner Pedro Gutierrez said that he calls it “the show.” It starts at 6 p.m. when the police cruisers park outside and wait for Latino customers to emerge from the bakery so that they can pull them over as they pull away from the bakery.

“When someone leaves of our color, the police come.” Gutierrez said recently, sitting in his brightly-lit bakery.

“But when the people are white, they’re not bothered.”

022709_004.jpgGutierrez (pictured with his son, Adrien Gutierrez, and an employee, Tania Chacon), originally from Ecuador, has lived in the U.S. for 22 years. He became a citizen a year and a half ago.

Now, he said, his customers don’t want to come to pick up their fig bread, Colombian pastries, and roasted chicken. Gutierrez said his customers tell him that his bread has become “the most expensive in the world” at “three dollars for a loaf plus three hundred dollars in tickets.”

Guti’z has been open for only six weeks. Gutierrez said that he talked to the East Haven construction department and the zoning board and got approval and encouragement for his business. “Then the police come from the other side, trying to push the businesses out,” Gutierrez said. “It’s not just.”

022809_005.jpg“It is a bitter experience,” said Louis Rodriguez, owner of Los Amigos Grocery (pictured), further down Main Street. Rodriguez said that police cars regularly park at a nearby gas station, where the officers can keep an eye on Los Amigos as well as La Bamba restaurant, across the street, and be ready to pull over Latino drivers.

On Friday night, Rodriguez was standing in the front of his store, surrounded by racks of Latin music CDs. In addition to groceries and CDs, Los Amigos also does money orders and ships packages internationally. Rodriguez also has a small cyber-cafe and a video-conferencing room, where customers can have video conversations with loved ones in other countries.

Rodriguez carried his toddler, Edward, into the video-conferencing lounge, a small room with couch and a large, flat-screen TV with a video camera. On the wall was a mural of a tropical beach. Before the police harassment began, Rodriguez said, the room was always booked. Now, “it’s been two months without a client.”

“We considered the economy, but it’s not the economy. The problem is the people are afraid,” Rodriguez said. The storeowner has called his customers, who told him that they were too afraid to go to his store.

Rodriguez and Nardo Marin, the owner of the La Bamba restaurant across the street, both said that East Haven police have punched holes in drivers’ licenses after pulling people over. A friend of theirs, driving with an out of state license, had his license torn in half by a police officer after performing a U-turn on Main Street.

Narcisa Ortiz, a New Haven resident, said that she was given a $158 ticket last week for driving with a Wisconsin license. She said the officer told her that he would arrest her if he saw her in East Haven again.

On Saturday night, Ortiz was at Los Amigos to send a package of clothes and shoes to her nine-year-old daughter in Ecuador. To avoid the police, Ortiz had gotten a friend to drive her to the store and had chosen to come at night.

Ortiz is fighting her ticket, but Rodriguez and Father Manship said that most Latinos stopped by East Haven police don’t have the resources to do so. They can’t lose a day of work to go to court.

Police Respond

022809_015.jpgAt 8 p.m. on Saturday night, East Haven police cruiser number 27 was parked at the shuttered gas station near Los Amigos Grocery and La Bamba. A young, dark-haired police officer was shuffling through traffic tickets. Asked about the charges that police officers park outside of Latino businesses waiting to pull over customers, the officer said, “We park all over East Haven.”

He declined to comment further, saying only, “We target high-crime areas, that’s it.”

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Comments

posted by: out of state plates on March 3, 2009  1:18pm

One of the problems with these out of state license plates is that individuals to avoid properly registering their vehicles in CT keep these expired out of state license plates. I myself was hit by a driver (Latino) with an out of state license plate who sped away and left me with a baby and a pregnant wife in the car. This is also true for many immigrants who drive with PA plates…the same story. This is not only directed to Latinos but to anybody how thinks they are smarter than the rest of us. The police should stop everyone to see how long they have been in the city no matter what nationality and to reminfd them they need to get CT plates.

posted by: Two Good Hands on March 3, 2009  1:51pm

Anyone who goes to tag sales, junk shops or flea markets knows that old license plates will almost always be part of the stock in trade.  I have never heard of police confiscating license plates from any of these establishments in any city or town.  Sounds to me like a case of “breathing while brown.”

posted by: Hmmm... on March 3, 2009  2:32pm

I tried to return an old set of CT plates to the DMV when I switch to “Save the Sound” plates a couple years ago and they told me they didn’t want them. When I moved to CT from Jersey I asked what to do with the Jersey plates and the Jersey DMV said throw them away. CT wouldn’t take them either. I put them in a recycle bin and Public Works left them in there.

I know this story is only one sided (the police wouldn’t talk) but if it happened anywhere close to how it is portrayed here then I see East Haven in a law suit. I agree that if you really live here you should pay to register here but if driving with out of state plates is illegal and just cause to stop a car then I guess we’ll see a lot of Yalies going to jail.

posted by: Bill on March 3, 2009  2:45pm

Arresting illegals is not harassment, it’s just doing their job, unlike the New Haven police.

posted by: Darnell on March 3, 2009  2:46pm

If a person lives in CT, they should have a CT license and registration. That being said, legitimate business people should not be harassed by the very folks who salaries (through taxes) they pay. As a show of support, I will at my earliest shop at each and every one of these establishments. It may not make a huge difference in their bottom line, but it is something.

posted by: DingDong on March 3, 2009  3:28pm

out of state plates,

I’m sorry to hear that.  Your story is yet another reason why Connecticut and other states should go back to allowing individuals to get a driver’s license and insurance without checking their immigration status. It will ensure that all drivers can get insurance and that they won’t have an incentive to flee the scene of a crash. It’s for our safety too…

posted by: Pedro on March 3, 2009  3:29pm

Have any of these police officers been to Rudy’s, or just about every Bar or restaurant with decorations on the walls? Old license plates are everywhere!!!
This guy wasn’t selling them, he had them as decorations on his wall. Maybe the East Haven police should go to every bar and restaurant in the area to sweep up these dangerous plates. Watch out Chilis!!

I’m very glad that this act of harassment went recorded and is being publicized.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very much against illegal immegration, and think that our flawed policies only exacerbate problems such as illegal aliens driving around unregistered and uninsured, but this situation seems much more a case of targeting ethnic businesses and then having a severe overreaction when they realized that they were being watched.

If a police officer is so defensive as to have to confiscate all record of his conduct, then perhaps he should not be conducting himself in that manner in the first place.

posted by: Guess What on March 3, 2009  3:35pm

The reason that the cars are registered in those states is that the requirements for identification, SS# and or immigration status is less stringent.  MA, PA, WI, NC,etc etc, get all the registration money, all the property taxes.  Why not just adjust the requirements to permit them to register the car in CT?  Remind me, was it the Ecuadorians who blew up the world trade center, twice?

posted by: Dee on March 3, 2009  3:43pm

I’m with you, Darnell. A road trip to East Haven this weekend is in order, I think. Fig bread sounds delicious!

posted by: K on March 3, 2009  3:44pm

Bill, who said anything about illegals?  Your assumption that all Latinos are ‘illegal’ is offensive and thoughtless.  The article talks a lot about Latino residents being harrassed.  It doesn’t mention, nor did the police say that they were looking out for only those without documentation.
Also, not that you care too much about facts, but it is outside the jurisdiction of local police to enforce immigration law - which (did you read the article?) they aren’t doing.  They’re targeting a group of people for infractions much of the population commits.  This is illegal.  And since you’re so worried about legality, maybe you should rethink this issue.  Or did we all of a sudden get the right to choose which laws we want to have followed and which ones to ignore?

posted by: lance on March 3, 2009  4:07pm

most of ‘em are breaking MV laws…...and furthermore they’re wiring money back to their native land, earned working as illegals, dealing drugs, or both in some if not most cases.  good for the ehpd.

REGISTER and INSURE your cars amigos, and don’t drive without a VALID license. If you can’t do that, don’t drive.

posted by: Mark on March 3, 2009  4:28pm

Great reporting! Thanks for bringing all this out.

posted by: SendHimToJail on March 3, 2009  4:30pm

That priest should spend sometime in jail for supporting criminal activity.  Being here and undocumented is a criminal act.  He should share his cell with the Mayor.

posted by: jackie on March 3, 2009  4:40pm

Dude,

Has anyone ever been into a Chili’s? Or heck, even Rudy’s? There’s always a ton of license plates on the walls that act as “flair” or whatever.

Go get ‘em!

There are other groups in this city, anyway, who deserve far more attention from the PD. And they were born here and speak English—or something like it.

posted by: robn on March 3, 2009  5:36pm

Last time I heard, it not illegal to videotape the police…I think the East Haven Police just made a very expensive Boo-Boo.

posted by: grey on March 3, 2009  6:02pm

It seems that organized crime is alive and well in the form the East Haven PD.

posted by: fedupwithliberals on March 3, 2009  6:17pm

Couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear on the Manship arrest. About time someone enforced the law in this state! Almost wants to make you move to ‘staven where sanity rules the day.

Joe Arpaia would be proud. Keep it up, officers!

posted by: Alex on March 3, 2009  6:28pm

For years East and West Haven police have been stopping blacks for “driving while black.” Now they have turned to Latinos because they are more defenseless and more blacks know how to defend themselves legally.

This kind of behavior must stop. This was an illegal search on so many levels and seizing the Father’s camera was a violation of free speech and the charges of “interfering with a police officer and creating a public disturbance” are way out of line.

This is gestapo-like behavior and must be stopped and taken to the courts at the highest levels and to Blumenthal.

Let’s all take our video and cell cameras over to East Haven and document all this E. Haven police harassment and put it up on YouTube. I know I am going to do this. This security camera footage needs to go there too. Also, be sure to report ALL license plates hung on walls in E. Haven so the police must go take them down no matter where this vile crime is being committed be it Chile’s or any other establishment or even in a home or garage.

This has got to stop and the E. Haven police need to be reprimanded and charged in state and federal courts for harassment and gross breach of rights!

posted by: Hey Anti-Immigrant Idiots on March 3, 2009  7:41pm

This article has NOTHING to do with people driving around with license plates from other states.  The license plates are being used as decoration by a taxpaying job-creating resident of East Haven.

You bigots come flying to this website from wherever it is you live (mostly nowhere near here no doubt) whenever your magic online hate machines inform you that there is a story about immigrants.  And from those same hate sites that send you here, you heard this story was about license plates.

So you dust off your license plate lies and throw those up—my family was run off the road by illegal immigrants for instance.

Pay attention you nuts—this article does not even involve an automobile.  It’s about police harassment of a small business owner, the arrest of a Catholic priest on made up charges, and the attempt by the EHPD to STEAL property of the shop owner (the videotape/hard drive).  And moreover, it is about a history of a police department which engages in racist behavior and a mayor’s office which tolerates it.

So go climb back into your hole.  The constitution has been violated, US citizens’ rights have been violated, police officers are breaking the law, and decent people are outraged.  None of this concerns or interests you.

posted by: GEORGE on March 3, 2009  8:51pm

I THINK THE YOUNG COP AT THE END FLIPPLING THROUGH THE TICKETS SHOULD EITHER QUIT THE FORCE OR GET THROWN OUT AND SPEND MORE TIME DOING WHAT HE KNOWS BEST…DISHWASHING!!! WHICH WAS HIS LAST JOB

posted by: give cop metal on March 3, 2009  9:10pm

So some laws might have been broken on both side. Illegal immigrants already broke federal law by being here. Plates are known to be sold and distributed in the for law breaking and for illegal activities. I would love to give the officers a cup of joe. For their effort in disrupting the posible wrong doings. The store might have been selling more then ice cream into the community.  It promotes tempations of selling plates for illegal activies. These plates could have been involved in murders, robberies, some other unsolved crimes.

posted by: ......ppppppp..... on March 3, 2009  9:26pm

“ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL…and have the right to life and persuit happiness…... no matter relegion, race, sex or immigration status…

posted by: Empanada on March 3, 2009  9:34pm

Rev. Mansell was defending children of God against acts by men doing the work of the devil.  Jail him if you will, it won’t hurt him.  What, I must ask, did Latinos think would happen once they populated ‘Staven?  I won’t go there, stop there, shop there, but if you have a rally in protest of this police state and misconduct, I’ll bring my white ass there with you, camera in hand!

posted by: Empanada Dolce on March 3, 2009  9:47pm

Representative Lawlor is a progressive Democrat.  Don’t hold him accountable for the conduct of his townspeople, but ask him to comment, ask him to help.
The other representative and the senator are GOP ‘Staveners, so far as I can tell.Lawlor’s committee assignments are JUDICIARY, GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION AND ELECTIONS and TRANSPORTATION.
Representative Michael Lawlor, CT 099
Legislative Office Building, Room 2500
Hartford, CT 06106-1591
(860) 240-0530
1-800-842-8267
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
From the legality of seizing license plates (were they all from Connecticut?, were they even of the currently active styles?) to the acts of arresting a priest and attempting to seize a security system, this Legislator is highly qualified to weigh in.

posted by: SinceWhen on March 3, 2009  10:19pm

I’ve got a question.  Since when has the Church been soooooo concerned with whats fair and just?  This is truly an anomoly.  If you listen to Catholic and Christian programing on Radio and tv these guys always assume they have some civil authority that they were granted through democratic means.  From Manship to Kimber to the Pope to Pat Robertson, you guys need to go out and get a real job - and not one given to you through political connections or donations.  Go out and compete like the rest of us.  I have a feeling that if you guys knew what it was like to have to go out develop and apply marketable skills other than guile, your views on a lot of issues would change.

posted by: Bruce on March 3, 2009  10:19pm

Bill, who said these people are illegals, or even immigrants?  All that was said is that they are Hispanic.  Would you jump to this conclusion if they were Canadians?

posted by: To Give Cop Metal on March 3, 2009  11:26pm

Don’t sell the illegal license plate metal in your head, take the Metal from your head, make a Medal out of it, pin it on cop to wear at his trial for doing wrong!  I just don’t understand why you want to seize all out of state guns, Metal, isn’t it the 22nd amendment, to assault foreign made rifles freely living or die?  Did you know ice cream is one of the most addictive baby foods?  Drugs in your freeeezer!  Commies love ice cream.  Addictive ice cream to turn your baby Commie, delivered by a funny looking license plate owner.

posted by: Justice Being Denied on March 4, 2009  7:59am

This article and some of the responses posted are clear evidence that we are going backwards as a society. When IGNORANCE and BIGOTRY are being spewed so proudly by FedUpwithLiberals, Lance, SendHimToJail and other MORONS, it tells us that we are in a sad state indeed. The priest, Father Jim, is doing what many Catholic Priests failed to do in Germany at the start of Hitler’s reign of terror, and what many whites of conscience failed to do during the vicious days of racism against, and lynching of Black Americans in the USA.  More people should join the priest; overwhelm the EH PD with people who care about justice.  It is because there were Catholic Priests and Nuns and other white people who had the courage of their conscience in the 60s and 70s to march against injustice why we have come this far.

DO NOT ALLOW HATRED to flourish. The behavior of the police as described is simply vicious; it needs to be deplored! IT NEEDS TO STOP! It MUST BE STOPPED!  We are supposed to be a civilized society. This is the 21st Century. PLEASE! Let us demonstrate that we are a JUST Society of human beings; let us rise above the barbaric. In this report the EHPD are behaving like the Gestapo! Do the people of EH approve of this type of behavior?  Is this to be the face of their town? Where are the people of Good Will in EH?

East Haven Police Dept. has a history of racist behaviors and practices.  Let us NOT forget Malik Jones. How many of these white people would settle for being harassed in a majority Black or Latino town? These police officers who are behaving in this way are no more than common racist thugs who are able to hide behind a badge. These police officers are not decent, law-abiding citizens; they are PUNKS!

The police are supposed to uphold the law and earn the respect of citizens. They demanded the hard drive to the man’s video-recording system?  On what grounds?  If what they were doing was within the law, why would they not want it seen by others? The DMV does not accept old licenses plate; what are the police going to do with them? Since when is it legal for the police to use their badges to harass, intimidate and brutalize citizens? I thought those days were over.  Clearly they are not.  Unless we all stand up for justice, we are going to be in deep trouble.

Hitler did not start with the Jews in 1936; he started years before with those who were handicapped; he convinced parents to put their children away because they were a burden on society. Those of us who can read know the rest of that story.

Being a RACIST & a BIGOT are not attributes to be proud of. Racism and Bigotry are born of ignorance, insecurity, and moral ineptitude. For the rest of us - the Hottest Places In Hell Are Reserved for Those Who In Times Of Moral Crisis Do NOTHING!  We all need to start going to East Haven to visit these Latino owned businesses. PLEASE, LET US STAND UP AGAINST INJUSTICE EVERYWHERE!

These people are working and contributing to the community; they are not out in our community committing crimes.  Sadly, that is what the EH police officers are doing; they are committing crimes.  Many of these are thugs who could not make it as business owners.  Maybe they are jealous of these enterprising people. Where are the police chief, the mayor, other elected officials and the decent people who live in EH? Where are those with the courage to step forward and say:  NOT IN OUR NAME?

posted by: Put Simply on March 4, 2009  8:31am

Watched the videos, read the piece, my impression:

Bunch of racist East Haven cops harassed a hard working US citizen for no reason other than that he is a Latino.  No word yet from the police chief or mayor.  Silence speaks volumes about what is acceptable in their book.

Do everything by the book, learn English, become a citizen, open a business, pay your taxes and get harassed by the East Haven police.

Wonder how these bigots talk to their kids every night?

posted by: William Kurtz on March 4, 2009  9:21am

The East Have police have long had a reputation—deserved or otherwise; I don’t have first-hand experience—for racial profiling and harassment of non-white people.  If East Haven’s mayor or chief of police wants to dispel this perception, they might start by addressing what is a clearly ridiculous action in seizing Mr. Matute’s license plates.  I’m sorry, but confiscating them because they’re illegal to possess just doesn’t pass the smell test; there are garages, bars, restaurants, and convenience stores across the country decorated in exactly the same way. 

If My Country Store is in fact a hive of illegal activity, then document it.  Let’s have some numbers on how many unregistered vehicles, uninsured drivers, or drug transactions the EHPD has busted in their parking lot. 

Finally, it’s more than little disturbing how much anger and hatred is on display in this conversation.

posted by: Esteban on March 4, 2009  9:37am

Has a defense fund been established for Father Jim?  I"ll be the first to contribute.  I would very much like to see Staven’s cops dragged through a high profile maximum publicity court case.

posted by: Stavener on March 4, 2009  9:51am

I live in East Haven, and I think the cops are right in doing what they did.

The DMV Sends a letter to return old Plates to your local police station. Maybe the cops thought the plates could of been used by illegals(Which is probably true)

The majority of illegals in the USA are of Hispanic descent. They drive cars registered in other states like MI or Penn because its easier to get a license there. They don’t pay insurance or taxes, and East Haven is not a sanctuary city. Thank you East Haven Police for doing ICE should be doing. If your here illegally leave.

posted by: Rose on March 4, 2009  10:05am

Tiempo de parar la discriminacion, pobres de espirito,lo que mas me duele es que cuando un Norte Americano, llega a uno de nuestros pueblos, Ecuatorianos, son recibidos y tratados como reyes,el planeta es de todos, nadie es dueno del mundo, ya quisiera que un Norte Americano, sienta y viva en carne propia la discriminacion,me da mucho dolor que mi gente este sufriendo y con temor de salir, muchas veces yo misma me he sentido como una criminal, asustada, huida, traumada, al instante reflexiono y digo, Dios mio si no he echo nada malo, porque me siento asi?....daria cualquier cosa para que el Presidente actual, nos tomara en cuenta y sepa que solo somos iguales que los Norte Americanos, con muchas ganas de trabajar y sacar adelante nuestras familias y colaborar con esta sociedad y esta tierra que nos abrio las puertas, lastima que por gente que tiene un poco mas de poder, tengamos que ser abusados…........DIOS BENDIGA ESTE PAIS Y SU GENTE,a pesar de las injusticias

posted by: Wicked Lester on March 4, 2009  10:17am

“It’s more than little disturbing how much anger and hatred is on display in this conversation”.

This one was particularly disturbing:

Posted by: Ellis Copeland
“EVERY cop involved in this travesty should be sentenced to death. I will volunteer to do the job!”

But when you try to post something like that regarding violent criminals, the NHI edits or doesn’t post them.

posted by: joe mama on March 4, 2009  11:49am

Is Dustin Gold behind this?

posted by: Alphonse Credenza on March 4, 2009  1:23pm

Arresting a priest for videotaping non-covert police activity sounds like an extremely dumb decision.  And I think using the word “dumb” is being kind.

posted by: Sure Stavener on March 4, 2009  1:54pm

Stavener said:

“The DMV Sends a letter to return old Plates to your local police station. Maybe the cops thought the plates could of been used by illegals(Which is probably true)”

What in the world are you talking about?  Let’s extend your brainstorm to the rest of nutty world:

- “He has frying pans in his store.  Those could be used to cook crack (which is probably true).”

- “Matute is a US citizen, Jeffrey Dahmer is a US citizen, Matute might eat people (which is probably true).

- “Len Gallo is police chief of East Haven. Bull Connor was police chief of Birmingham so EHPD might beat up people because of their ethnicity (which is probably true).

How about you start treating a Latino US citizen like he is a US citizen and business owner, entitled to the same basic civil rights as you and everyone else in this great country.  And this does not include the police coming into your business, taking decorations off the wall, trying to steal your hard drive and treating your customers like trash.

posted by: Shouldtellyousomething on March 4, 2009  2:17pm

Does it peak the curiousity of anyone that the East Haven PD has as their lawyer the BEST CRIMINAL LAWYER in the state, HUGH KEFFE?

I love the irony!

posted by: calamazoolou on March 4, 2009  2:18pm

I don’t think this Priest should have been arrested for videotaping since it is not illegal.

I’m friends with the Chacon/Matute family who are a very hard working family.  Mr. Matute has been collecting plates for a long time, paid alot of hard earned $ for them & like he said they have been on display for a long time.  If there was 1 illegal plate then the EHPD should have said that & taken the 1 plate. I know he would have gladly cooperated.  Now Mr. Matute will have to fight to get his possessions back.  That’s not right.

Why would the EHPD need to search the back of the store and take the surveillance video.  I don’t see it stated anywhere that they went in with a warrant to remove the plates, search the store or take the surveillance tapes.  I believe that’s illegal.

My Country Store has a wide variety of items and I’d recommend anyone to shop there. 

Gutierrez Bakery is another great place to shop.  I live in Branford and look forward to driving to their bakery on the weekend just for some fresh baked goods.  There has been a good crowd in there, especially for a new business and I’d hate to see that change.

posted by: calamazoolou on March 4, 2009  2:29pm

FYI: 
Welcome to ALPCA Online!
This is the official web site of ALPCA, the biggest and most respected club for license plate collectors and aficionados all over the world.
http://www.alpaca.org

The Automobile License Plate Collectors Association, founded 1954, is an organization dedicated to the promotion of license plate collecting and research, the exchange of information and plates, as well as all fraternal benefits of sharing a common hobby interest with others throughout the world.

posted by: Oops Calamazoolou on March 4, 2009  4:05pm

I think you meant:


http://www.alpca.org

that’s the site for collectors of license plates.

posted by: anon on March 4, 2009  4:22pm

The EHPD’s overtly racist behavior, not to mention the fact that East Haven opposes the presence of an airport that is vital to the success of all of Connecticut, is grounds for the State of CT to officially dissolve the Town of East Haven. 

Annex the coastal parts of the town to New Haven or Branford (if they even want it), and turn the remainder into a state-run Tweed International Airport or into a state park.

posted by: MTB on March 4, 2009  5:52pm

While Police Officers do face many dangerous situations, it does not reduce the face that they are public servants and not Judge, Jury, and God himself.

I recently was harassed by the New Haven Police simply because I got lost not being familiar with the area.  I am a professional white male with no accent in a Registered Car with up to date insurance and I was wearing a suit.  However the officer thought I was latino when he pulled me over.  He originally addressed me in very poor spanish and when he realized I wasn’t who he was looking for, threw my license down on the street and walked away. He didn’t hand it back to me, instead he dropped it to the ground and told me to get my f…. little as. out of here. 

One month prior my house was broken into, when I called police they took more than 2 hours to show up and when I called back to find out if someone was coming, they told me “We couldn’t find the house”, never called me back, got directions, just acted like it was not a big deal.  They told me they would investigate and it took them 2 weeks to come back and dust for prints.

I was told to check the pawn shops for my things, and to call them if I found them.  I work three jobs right now in this economy, pay my taxes and they want me track my own stolen items. 

I grew up with the respecting the Policemen and Women, always felt they were there to help, but I can honestly say now that I do all I can to avoid them, and have stopped donating to all their charities, I’ll give that money to the firefighters at least they try.

posted by: to jo mama on March 4, 2009  6:27pm

Dustin and his group are not involed in this one.  Sorry to inform you. Let him enjoy today.

posted by: Fedupwithliberals on March 4, 2009  8:00pm

JUSTICE BEING DENIED

“The priest, Father Jim, is doing what many Catholic Priests failed to do in Germany at the start of Hitler’s reign of terror, and what many whites of conscience failed to do during the vicious days of racism against, and lynching of Black Americans in the USA.”

C’mon! I don’t think that enforcing immigration laws rises to the same level as gassing jews and lynching blacks. Just where do you make that moral equivalence? Are you on diet Kool Aid? Artificial sweeteners cause insanity instead of blind obedience to doctrine. Go for the real thing chock full of sugar and make an intellectually honest argument!

posted by: Jim Blunt on March 4, 2009  8:06pm

I am from the South and am shocked at the racism, racial tension and racial segregation that dominates New England culture. In all my years living in the south I have never seen the level of racial animosity that thrives here from and towards all ethnic groups, especially in the greater New Haven area. If you don’t see it, it’s probably because you are part of the problem.

posted by: Jim Blunt on March 4, 2009  8:15pm

Also, I have never been in a city where many, many people complain (ALL OF THE TIME) and only a handful actually do something. You’ll notice the handful if you look for those whose hands are working harder than their mouths. I also find it quite ironic that those who are actually doing rather than talking are often the ones who become the targets of the complainers.

You know the old saying… “if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.” In other words, stop bitching and try to make a positive difference in your community.

posted by: Fedupwithliberals on March 4, 2009  8:32pm

JIM BLUNT

“I am from the South and am shocked at the racism, racial tension and racial segregation that dominates New England culture.”

This article has to do with Hispanics and illegal immigration. Last time I looked, Hispanics were not classed as a race unto their own. Save your rant and credibility for an appropriate story.

And BTW, when you defend a group of people by holding them to a different standard and excusing criminal behavior, you are basically lowering them to the status of a child or incompetant who is incapable of following the rules. How compassionate is that?

posted by: ct law on March 4, 2009  9:19pm

Ct law states when you enter premise that you the business owner need to post a sign that video taping is being done and needs to be in plain site of people. If not it may not be used in court.

posted by: oldswede on March 4, 2009  9:52pm

As usual, FUWL is so blinded by his ignorant hatreds that he can’t see straight.
He says: “This article has to do with Hispanics and illegal immigration. Last time I looked, Hispanics were not classed as a race unto their own. Save your rant and credibility for an appropriate story.”

No, this article is about police harassment and profiling. Immigration issues belong to the federal government, not the EHPD. There is nothing here about the EHPD notifying ICE, which they would have to do if immigration was the issue. It is just racism by the EHPD and the town authorities that permit it. SOP for East Haven.
Have you ever filled out a job application and not seen the check-off box for race that says “Hispanic - not-Caucasian”? Another of your blind spots, I guess.
oldswede

posted by: maggie mae on March 4, 2009  10:13pm

Rose:  You live in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA where the language is ENGLISH.  Please speak the language of the land you live in.  If you want to speak Spanish don’t post

posted by: East Haven on March 4, 2009  11:23pm

I live in East Haven, im a young latino male with a hardworking single mother and a sibling. Not every latino is illegal and we all deserve to be treated as humans. I think that the police should be stopping people that dont have a valid license plate or a drivers license but not just latinos. If there is harrassment agaisnt any ethnic group people should stand up and make sure that everyone is being treated fairly. In my opinion we need the stores in our community to better our economy but it sucks to feel harrassed when i want to go out and buy something i want.

posted by: norton street on March 5, 2009  1:10am

yeah rose, this is america, speak american, like it says in the constitution! im sick of all these got dang foreigners talkin all their native languages, like the cosa notras talkin italian and the canadaians speakin french and playing hockey. i want my old country back!

oh wait, thats right we destroyed a lot of our farmland and forests with suburban sprawl and made our country into a joke that relies on other country’s resources to even run.

posted by: Jim Blunt on March 5, 2009  1:12am

FedUpWithLiberals,
You seem to fit the profile of “the many” I spoke of in my second post. A lot of complaining and no action. Regarding my comments on racial tension, I   was responding to the sentiments that emerge in the community comments following this article and many, many others. Like I said, If you can see it, you are most likely part of the problem.

And how did you come to the conclusion from my comments that I am defending any group or excusing anyone of criminal behavior? Did I take a side?

Do you have anything positive to say… any positive thoughts at all?? You’ve even identified yourself by what you hate… liberals. Our city needs people who know who they are and what they are for. Not people who have defined themselves by what they dislike and what they are against.

Rather than going back an forth in the forum, feel free to contact me directly if you would like to have a real dialog over the issues. My email address is: jimblunt_AT_gmail.com

posted by: East Haven Is Time 4 A Change on March 5, 2009  2:44am

Wow, this story is very interesting. I do not even know where to start. First, I will like to start my giving “THANKS” to all the individuals who have supported this incident in East Haven and Second, I will like to ask all of my Latino/a and Hispanic friends to PLEASE forgive ALL the ignorant individuals who commented on this story. Let us NOT lower ourselves to their IGNORANCE and HATE!
I am a professional, doctoral level Latina woman who has lived in East Haven for 18 years, in my time here every SINGLE one of my family, friends and colleagues that look like me have been HARRASS at some point or another while in town visiting me.
I have HORRIBLE PERSONAL STORIES about “RACISM” in East Haven. I have been asked to leave town in more than one occasion, but I have not and WILL NOT give in for I have the right to be here just as much as everyone else does. It is sad that we have forgotten that more than 80% of East Haven residents are also IMMIGRANTS from; Italy (the biggest portion), Portugal, Greece, Germany, Ireland, Poland and NOW a very small number of Latino/a and Hispanics coming in.
While it is very sad to see the kind of hate talk that has happened here, and I am ENCOURAGED by all the supporters. For it is only by talking that we can actually know how people truly feel about others and their mishaps.
I have personally reported this incident to all of the agencies mentioned above and have been getting enormous amounts of support from other organizations and agencies that want to be involved to help out our Priest and our East Haven community; including the Latino/as, Hispanics, Whites and all others who live in this beautiful town, because it is with events like this that HATE is perpetuated. The ramifications of this incident will eventually affect all us human beings and as tax payers.
PS By the way “HUGH KEFFE” has nothing on the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, the National Council of La Raza, Hay Market People’s Institute, the Urban Alliance, Hartford Diesis and other National Groups working to end HATE CRIMES, RACISM and Discrimination and to promote EQUITY and PEACE. You have not seeing a good lawyer until you see theirs in ACTION first. The NAACP has sued East Haven and WON 3 Times in the last 15 years, and am sure would love to do it AGAIN :)

posted by: KAMB on March 5, 2009  8:51am

THANK GOD this priest got arrested !!!!!  Separation of church and state! This guy thinks because he is a priest he can override the law. I’ve seen him out in Fair Haven and his parish members are constantly, not only double parking,. triple parking at his church on Blatchley Ave and the cops dont ticket them because they catch heat when he complains to the majors office.

posted by: Bruce on March 5, 2009  9:12am

FEDUP:  “This article has to do with Hispanics and illegal immigration. ” 

Are we reading the same article?  It has NOTHING to do with illegal immigration.  ZERO.  People see a person of Hispanic descent and assume that he is an illegal immigrant.  This is a big problem, is it not?  Maybe I would not call this racism, but it is certainly racial stereotyping. When these beliefs are held by policemen, hiring managers, loan officers,teachers, etc., then people start getting unequal treatment. This makes life more difficult for one race of people than it is for others and that is what we call oppression.

posted by: ACR on March 5, 2009  9:51am

I began reading this article with a `oh yeah here we go another “Bad Cop” story..’ but wound up appalled instead.

What’s with the cops in East Haven?

Even in our worst moments; did we collectively treat any other wave of immigrants this way?

Most of us are aware of the “Oh no, not you guys…” welcome that both the Irish and shortly later the Italians received upon their arrival; but did the police systematically harass their businesses?
Was there ever government sanctioned bigotry of immigrants?
Maybe there was - did I miss something in History?

Seems the store owner was already keeping his end of the unwritten How to be a new American rules:

Speak English
Pay your own way
Speak English
Pay your own taxes
Speak English
Leave everyone else alone
Speak English Dammit!

I thought that was The Deal and once a new American did all of the above they were supposed to be all set.

[I cross posted this comment at CT News Junkie as well]

posted by: OldsVistaCruiser on March 5, 2009  12:16pm

I was linked to this story by a newsgroup catering to license plate collectors.

First off, my home state of Pennsylvania is an inspection state, and has one of the most-rigorous auto inspection programs in the nation.  I’m sure illegals aren’t driving PA-registered cars if they can’t get them insured or inspected.

Anyway, this story isn’t about illegals using out-of-state license plates - it’s about the clearly-illegal search and seizure from a store belonging to a U.S. citizen in violation of his 4th Amendment rights, as well as the illegal arrest of a priest and the illegal seizure of his video recorder, and the illegal stopping and harassment of customers of the shopkeeper’s store and other stores in the vicinity.

If this had happened in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, these police officers would face charges of theft of movable property, unlawful imprisonment, official oppression and harassment to say the least.  They would be spending at least a decade MAKING license plates, if they were that lucky enough to get a job like that in the state correctional system and were sentenced to SCI Fayette, south of Pittsburgh.

Bill
near Philly

posted by: anon on March 5, 2009  1:26pm

Excellent point, Oldsvistacruiser! 

Once they get to prison, maybe the EH cops can start by making plates to replace the ones they damaged.

posted by: colette on March 5, 2009  3:54pm

Thank you Father Manship.

posted by: Alex on March 5, 2009  9:28pm

Yeah it is amazing to see the bigotry and racism displayed here. Nice to see them come out so we can see how bad the situation still is and how many ignorant people are out there!

posted by: Fedupwithliberals on March 5, 2009  10:08pm

OLDSWEDE

I know you probably missed this in school, so straight from the Government Census Bureau:

http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/race/racefactcb.html

“How Should Hispanics or Latinos Answer the Race Question?

People of Hispanic origin may be of any race and should answer the question on race by marking one or more race categories shown on the questionnaire, including White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and Some Other Race. Hispanics are asked to indicate their origin in the question on Hispanic origin, not in the question on race, because in the federal statistical system ethnic origin is considered to be a separate concept from race.”

Facts can be inconvenient to people. As I’ve mentioned before, Hispanics are not a race unto themselves. This is not a racial issue, but one of law enforcement. So who’s the ignorant one now? And JIM BLUNT, you insinuated that all New Englanders are racist. Just because you have a different point of view, want the laws enforced or are fed up with morons, it doesn’t mean you hate. Favorite tactic of the left which is overplayed like the race card when you can’t win an argument in the arena of ideas.

posted by: robn on March 6, 2009  8:33am

In the 70’s and 80’s it was very common to see East Havener’s (which were primarily second and third generation Italian) drive cars with Florida license plates. This was because they spent some winter time in Florida and registered and insured their cars there because it was cheaper…and illegal becuase Florida wasn’t their primary residence. I don’t recall ever hearing about a crackdown on this behavior so I can only surmise that the recent actions of the EHPD are racially motivated. It bums me out becuase there are a lot of nice people in that town who respect hard working business people like Wilfred Matute.

posted by: William Kurtz on March 6, 2009  9:26am

FUWL,

I hope you’re kidding although I suspect you’re not.  ‘Race’ is as much a cultural construction as it is a product of federal statistical guidelines.  I don’t know why the federal statisticians fail to recognize Latinos as a race since by any useful definition of the word, it certainly qualifies.  Put another way: if you’re going to categorize people by race for any reason, you need to use the categories that people actually recognize and identify with.

Wouldn’t you agree that the typical derogatory terms used by bigots to describe people of Latino origin are racist epithets?

posted by: RM on March 6, 2009  10:49am

It is unfortunate that this story has been reported in such a one-sided fashion.  Although it is regrettable that EHPD may be unfairly targeting the latinos in the community, and their actions in seizing the license plates may or may not have been legal, we do have an obligation to support them in their work to curtail illegal activities of all kinds, even this priest.  While this story is about a specific incident of police harassment, it is obviously addressing the larger issue of illegal immigration, which is the source of most negative reaction against latinos, and the source of the rest of the comments in the article. 

We have a democratic system we must work within to effect change, not live outside of the laws established by that democracy.  It is unfortunate for all latinos that many illegal immigrants do reside in their communities and participate in or support illegal activities, which makes it difficult for police to act against only the perpetrators.  Driving an improperly registered car, with improper licensing and insurance (which yes, is usually accomplished by using out-of-state ID) needs to be stopped (and is the jurisdiction of local police, not ICE by the way). If the only way for the local police to do that is stopping every suspicious vehicle for minor infractions, then so be it.  I agree it shouldn’t be just latinos, but any vehicle.  I know plenty of people, both legal and illegal, hispanic, white, etc. that choose to circumvent the high costs of CT taxes, registration, and insurance by using out-of-state licenses and plates. 

This is part of living in CT, so either change it through the proper channels, or abide by the rules.  Don’t try to circumvent them.  If your business is built on a clientelle of people who aren’t willing to follow the laws and rules that are ostensibly to protect the entire community, then I am sorry, you will have to suffer in circumstances like this.

posted by: DingDong on March 6, 2009  11:21am

ACR,

Don’t two of your “rules” conflict?

1.Leave everyone else alone

2. Speak English Dammit!

If people don’t want to speak English and they leave you alone, why do you want to bother them about language they speak?

posted by: robn on March 6, 2009  1:48pm

Awesome!

DINGDONG rings the bell once again!

posted by: Fedupwithliberals on March 6, 2009  6:04pm

WILLIAM KURTZ

“Wouldn’t you agree that the typical derogatory terms used by bigots to describe people of Latino origin are racist epithets?”

No different than the derogatory terms people used against the Italians, Irish, Poles, etc. Might be an epithet, but it is not racial. They’ll get over it, as we did. Helps to legitimize yourself first in order to gain acceptance by those who went before you.

posted by: SUYORI on March 6, 2009  7:58pm

MAY GOD FORGIVE ALL THESE PEOPLE WHO THINK FOREING PEOPLE DON’T DESERVE TO LIVE IN THE UNITED STATES.  WE ALL LIVE IN ONE ISLAND CALLED PLANET EARTH.  DON’T BE STUPED.

posted by: latichever on March 7, 2009  9:49am

“Arresting illegals is not harassment, it’s just doing their job, unlike the New Haven police.”

Yeah, who cares about pesky little things like things like probable cause?

posted by: Brian on March 8, 2009  2:46pm

The police in East Haven are almost comically racist-when I was an apprentice my company did work on the shore in East Haven and we had one black kid working with us who whichever vehicle he was in got stopped almost every day he was on the job.

posted by: judistpriest on March 14, 2009  3:08pm

Unless the priest was buying condoms, I feel the priest was wrongly arrested.  My question is why was he shopping in the Latino store?  And what was he doing w/ a digital camera?

posted by: Joe Mendoza on March 28, 2009  1:15pm

These illegals give all of us Latinos a bad name. I live in East Haven, and the other day a Mexican family came into the Village Restaurant diner there, and behaved horribly with their toddlers the whole meal. They gave their 18-month old a lollipop(!) as soon as they came in and—surprise—he ran around the place screaming, while mom and dad sat their eating their eggs, allowing it. The waitress could barely take their order because of language. Then their 4 year old daughter started singing songs in spanish in a loud voice while the toddler banged his feet against the banquet—again the parents allowed it. The white patrons were all too P.C. to say anything, so it was left to me to go and scold them for their disgusting behavior in Spanish. They come here and have no interest in assimilating. They are rude and crude and loud and proud, and they embarrass me as a Mexican-American. They go to Hannah’s Dream and play loud music in their cars and their kids are brats. I am sick of it and understand why the East Haven cops don’t like them either.

posted by: venus on August 28, 2009  9:32am

este es el pueblo mas racista que he visto en mi vida maldita sea la hora que llegue a este maldito pueblo se lo dejo para que se lo traguen y vomiten
me voy no me bota me voyyyyyyy por los racista
pocilias y italiano racista bla, bla, bla

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