Recent events of gangland violence among the city’s Latin American population have prompted city officials and the Indianapolis Police Department to promote awareness about attending to the problem. On Feb. 28, the Mayor’s Commission on Latino Affairs announced a public outreach campaign to help fight crime in the Latino community. Through a three-week television and grass-roots campaign, this initiative hopes to educate Latinos in how to report crimes in Marion County with tools such as special Spanish-speaking hotlines.
“The program has been in the works for several months now,” said spokesperson Jo Lynn Garing. “It is not that we have a problem in this city or one particular incident occurred that sparked this attention to the needs of the Latino people.”
IPD has also announced the appointing of a new Latino detective and a Latino outreach coordinator. Garing said that relationships between IPD and the Latino community are “OK” but could always be better.
IPD Chief Jerry Barker said, “These [initiatives] are prime examples of our policing efforts to address the needs of Latinos in Indianapolis.”
Some people have applauded the campaign’s birth but are skeptical about the intent of the mayor’s commission. Auto worker Carlos Gallardo asked, “What are they going to do about the violence between Anglos against Latinos?” Gallardo went on to say that although he is a legal resident, he knows several illegals who keep their mouths shut when it comes to prejudice and hate crimes because of fear of immigration troubles. And this is not just a problem between Anglos and Latinos but Latinos and blacks, and Chinese. “If someone is beating each other up in a building we don’t call the cops … with the cops brings la migra.”
The Indianapolis Star reported a gang shooting last week between the 18th Street gang and the Surenos, or the Sur-13, that resulted in the death of Jose L. Espinoza, 18, by gun fire. He was found dead on the concrete divider of Dr. Martin Luther King and St. Clair Street. According to IPD, his assailant, Carlos Ramirez, 17, was arrested on a preliminary murder charge.