ST. JOHN — Chanting “No justice, no peace. No racist police,” about a dozen people protested in front of the St. John Police Department Friday calling for an end to what they said was police profiling of Mexican-Americans.
Julie Contreras, of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said she had received copies of transcripts of a St. John officer’s statements about going “Mexican hunting” and references to “those beaners” getting to work early. Contreras denounced the officer’s actions and called for a full investigation.
“I’m tired of the Donald Trump Syndrome,” Contreras said, referring to Republican presidential candidate Trump’s demonizing Mexicans and promising to build a wall to keep them out.
“The contributions of Latin Americans are great, and police departments across the country are on alert that this will not be tolerated.”
The Rev. Cheryl Rivera said, “This is a fight for the rights of all people of color. The hunting of Mexicans is the hunting of anyone who is oppressed. This needs to be investigated and whoever needs to be removed, should be removed.”
Antonio Barreda, of Union Benefica Mexicana, said the protest is not just about the rights of Mexicans or Muslims or African-Americans or any other group being discriminated against.
“It’s about our country,” Barreda said, and asked that the officer and the police chief submit to lie detector tests.
“It can’t be used in court, but let us hear from them to see where they stand. It seems there is a coverup.”
Local radio personality Eve Gomez said, “Sometimes I don’t feel proud to be an American citizen when I see things like this going on. It’s a disgrace to the human race, and we are here so they can learn a lesson.”
Police Chief James Kveton told the media after the LULAC press conference that “any type of racism or discriminatory treatment by members of the St. John Police Department will not be tolerated by me or any staff or elected official of this town.”
Kveton said he is doing everything to make sure to uncover the accurate details and is having them investigated by a person not connected with the town.
That investigation is expected to be completed soon, he said, but he added there are people trying to steer the investigation, including someone in law enforcement, through social media and other statements.
“Those that do wrong should be held accountable, and those that are falsely accused should be exonerated,” Kveton said.
“It is extremely important that all the details and all leads are thoroughly and completely identified and investigated, which I believe is being done.”
The protesters had asked to meet with Kveton after their session with the media, but Kveton and Town Attorney David Austgen said the group had not returned calls to set up the details of the meeting. Austgen said the group would be contacted about a meeting at a later date.
Members of a St. John homeowners PAC also attended the protest to continue their call for the removal of Town Manager Stephen Kil, Council President Michael Forbes and Councilman Mark Barenie.