Friday, September 1, 2006

Cuban-born Smithville police chief resigns, cites slurs by officials

Smithville joins growing roster of TN city governments whose officials show disrespect to Hispanics and immigrants

The Tennessean reports in this story that Cuban-born Smithville police chief Agustin Clemente Jr. resigned on August 23, citing prejudicial behavior by city officials as one of the reasons for his departure after only a few months on the job (story here). Clemente was the first Hispanic police chief in Middle Tennessee.

One of the comments cited in Clemente's resignation letter was, "I am going to buy that Cuban a boat and send him back to where he came from." The Tennessean has the full text of his resignation letter here.

Smithville officials are not the only members of local governments to speak and act with disrespect for Hispanics and immigrants. The mayor of Coopertown, Tennessee is said to have ordered officers to target Hispanic drivers for tickets, on the theory that they would not complain (story here). One Nashville councilman recently described immigrants as belonging to a "foreign race" (story here). And two Springfield, Tennessee officials recently suggested that Hispanics do not belong in city parks and other public spaces (story here).

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