Tag Archives: latino

Proposed interstate expansion prompts federal civil rights investigation

The U.S. Department of Transportation will initiate an investigation of alleged civil rights violations related to the Colorado Department of Transportation’s proposal to expand I-70.

The state DOT wants to expand the interstate through the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods in North Denver.

The federal decision is a response to a complaint filed Nov. 15 by Earthjustice on behalf of the Colorado Latino Forum, Cross Community Coalition and Elyria and Swansea Neighborhood Association. The complaint alleges the plan to triple I-70’s width would result in “disparate and severe environmental and economic impacts” on the predominantly Latino communities.

CDOT committed to moving forward with the expansion plan in May, but has yet to issue its formal record of its decision.

The agency, which receives federal funding for the I-70 and other projects, is prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 from taking actions that have even an unintentional discriminatory impact on citizens on the basis of their race, color, or national origin.

“We are looking forward to making the case that CDOT’s proposal magnifies the already discriminatory impact that I-70 has had on these neighborhoods for decades, leading to reduced life expectancies and the highest rates of pollution-related illnesses in the city,” said Heidi McIntosh, an attorney at Earthjustice who represents the neighborhood advocates.

Interstate 70 was built through the area in the 1960s over the objections of neighborhood organizations and business owners.

Fifty years later, the neighborhood is the most polluted in Colorado.

Residents have significantly higher rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma and asthma-related emergency room visits than the rest of Denver, according to EarthJustice.

The expansion of I-70, adding toll lanes and eliminating access to the highway from the neighborhood, would worsen environmental and health consequences for this community, the EarthJustice complaint states.

It would result in:

• Increased exposure to freeway-related air pollution and expose residents to airborne dust from existing Superfund sites that are contaminated by lead and arsenic.

• Disruption to the social fabric of the neighborhood and its economic vitality by destroying at least 56 homes, 13 commercial buildings and the Swansea Elementary School playground. About 200 people would be displaced by the expansion.

Orlando to buy Pulse nightclub to create a memorial

The city of Orlando, Florida, has announced plans to purchase the Pulse nightclub and eventually convert the site of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history into a memorial.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told the Orlando Sentinel this week that the city has reached a deal to buy the LGBT nightclub for $2.25 million.

Dyer says the site should probably remain as-is for the next 12 to 18 months, as it has become a gathering place for mourners.

He says the city will reach out to the community for advice on how plans for the memorial should proceed.

The purchase price is $600,000 more than its appraised value.

The June 12 attack left 49 people dead and 53 wounded.

Gunman Omar Mateen was killed by SWAT team members.

Hispanic woman fired for reporting harassment by pro-Trump co-workers

A Hispanic woman says her white co-workers at an Iowa claims office used images of Donald Trump to racially harass her for months after they learned she was angered by his description of Mexican immigrants as rapists, according to a civil rights lawsuit she filed against her company.

Alexandra Avila’s co-workers at Sedgwick Claims Management Services — where they administered benefits for Wal-Mart employees — began calling her an “illegal immigrant” even though she’s a natural-born U.S. citizen, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Iowa district court. The suit claims her former co-workers placed a picture of an angry-looking Trump as Avila’s computer’s screensaver, signed her up to volunteer for his campaign and sent her racist memes, including one that read: “How’s Mr. Donald Trump going to deport all these illegals? Juan by Juan.”

The Republican presidential candidate’s promise to build a border wall to keep out Mexican immigrants has for months contributed to racial tensions nationwide. “Build a wall” chants have been used by high school students to taunt Latino opponents at sporting events in multiple states, including Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana. At Kent State University, Latinos marching in the Homecoming parade this month said they were taunted with the same chant.

Avila, a 32-year-old mother of one who worked at Sedgwick for three years, claims she faced similar heckling at her white-collar workplace in Coralville, Iowa, from the beginning of Trump’s campaign in June 2015 until after she was fired five months later.

“It’s been a weird political season where one candidate is taking public stances on things that, if the same words were said in the workplace, might constitute violations of our civil rights laws,” said Avila’s attorney, Paige Fiedler. “His candidacy has emboldened some people to feel like that doesn’t violate social norms anymore.”

Lesley Gudehus, spokeswoman for Memphis, Tennessee-based Sedgwick, declined comment on the lawsuit.

Avila, born in California to Mexican parents, told colleagues she was upset with Trump’s 2015 campaign launch when he said of Mexican immigrants: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

Soon after, the lawsuit claims, colleagues removed the photo Avila had of her young daughter as her computer screensaver and replaced it with a picture of Trump yelling and pointing his finger. When Avila removed the photo, they kept switching it back to Trump, the suit alleges.

An email arrived from the Trump campaign last fall thanking her for the support and asking how she wanted to help, according to the suit. Avila also claims her colleagues sent offensive memes, including one showing a brown-skinned man that read: “Found Jesus — he stabbed me twice.”

When her department was voting on a potluck menu, one co-worker said Avila was ineligible because she was an “illegal immigrant,” drawing laughter from Avila’s boss, the lawsuit claims. Avila contends that after she complained about the harassment, the company accused her of falsifying timecards by claiming she worked minutes more time than she actually did.

Avila was fired last November and escorted out, with Sedgwick saying it would send her personal property later. When her belongings arrived from FedEx, Avila says they contained a handwritten note that called her “La Trumpa” and added: “Illegal immigrants can’t vote or work. Good luck finding a job.”

“Getting that box in the mail was a horrific experience,” Fiedler says.

After her firing, a co-worker sent her an invitation to a Trump rally on Facebook, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit, which names Sedgwick and two supervisors, alleges Avila suffered discrimination based on national origin and that the company failed to pay wages she earned.

 

Orlando wants to keep Pulse assistance center open

An assistance center for victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre should remain open for several more years, according to Orlando officials.

The Orlando Sentinel reports the city council voted Aug. 29 to pay the Heart of Florida United Way over $123,000 to staff the Orlando United Assistance Center through early November. City officials said they’ll discuss a longer contract that would keep it open for several more years.

Survivors of the shooting can seek grief counseling, rent assistance and other services at the center, which was established in an unused Orange County government building shortly after the June 12 massacre at a packed gay nightclub.

Leydiana Puyarena, who was shot in the leg inside Pulse, said the center connected her with a psychologist and provided about $3,000 for rent and utilities.

“I have my counseling sessions and that’s helping me a lot, but once the (OneOrlando Fund) money is dispersed, I won’t need to ask them for any other help,” she said. “That money is really what is going to help me and the others and allow us to move forward with our lives.”

The OneOrlando Fund is preparing pay-outs later this month for the families of 49 people killed and dozens more people hurt or affected by the massacre.

Puyarena said she was glad the city plans to keep the center open.

“I know a lot of people will still be needing help as time goes on,” she said.

The city turned over management of the assistance center to the Heart of Florida United Way in July, with about $93,000 for about two months’ of services.

“We think that there is still going to be a lot of need for therapy, mental health counseling, support groups, things like that,” said Stephanie Husted, the center’s director.

The newspaper quoted a senior adviser to the city on social services, Lori Pampilo Harris, as saying the center will be needed for “no less than three years.”

From July 11 through Aug. 22, the center scheduled 235 appointments with victim advocates and helped 129 clients with basic needs such as rent, mortgage or car payments, Husted said.

“We want to make sure to really individualize each case and make sure that we’re trying to get them to some type of normalcy, rather than a one-time type of assistance,” she said.

 

 

 

Zamarripa applauds opening of Mexican Consulate, bemoans Walker’s insincerity

State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, issued this statement after attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the official opening of the new Consulate of Mexico office in Milwaukee:

An initial, gracious thanks to the consulate of Mexico for now providing the city of Milwaukee with public services that will provide an immediate, positive impact in our community. I am optimistic that their presence and services will benefit those who need it most.

While I appreciate the kind words Gov. Scott Walker spoke about the contribution of immigrants to this great state, it is important to remember that he has not been supportive or shown consistent leadership on a number of important issues relevant to the Latino community.

This also can be said about our state’s Legislative Republicans and their advancement of an anti-immigrant, anti-Latino agenda. They have placed unnecessary hurdles before local governments that seek to issue local ID cards to some immigrants (SB 533), harshly repealed tuition equity which allowed Wisconsin “Dreamers”—undocumented, young people brought here through no fault of their own—to pay in-state tuition rates at UW schools and technical colleges (AB 785), and ignored a common-sense, public safety bill on drivers’ cards for undocumented immigrants.

They have placed unnecessary hurdles before local governments that seek to issue local ID cards to some immigrants (SB 533), harshly repealed tuition equity which allowed Wisconsin “Dreamers” — undocumented, young people brought here through no fault of their own — to pay in-state tuition rates at UW schools and technical colleges (AB 785), and ignored a common-sense, public safety bill on drivers’ cards for undocumented immigrants.

Yesterday, the governor took the opportunity to boast about Wisconsin’s dairy farm industry, an industry reliant on a Latino workforce. Ironically, what he failed to mention is how he has inhibited that workforce from having access to local identification cards, a necessary part of being a

Ironically, what he failed to mention is how he has inhibited that workforce from having access to local identification cards, a necessary part of being a diary famer in Wisconsin. Here again we see the governor’s continued hypocrisy, enabled by the Republican-dominated legislature and at the expense of countless Wisconsinites.

As the first Latina, and the first and only Mexican-American elected to the Wisconsin state Legislature, one of my foremost legislative priorities has been and will continue to be to support pragmatic, pro-immigrant policy.

Through the consulate’s efforts, Milwaukeeans and beyond will have guidance and direction for receiving important documentation such as identification cards, birth certificates and passports.

The office expects to expand their community involvement, as well as extend their reach to the constituents all across this great state, a process I look forward to witnessing evolve over time.

Will Southwest go solid for Dems because of Donald Trump?

Once a swing state in presidential elections, Colorado has teetered on the brink of becoming solidly Democratic. Donald Trump may have pushed it over the edge.

Trump’s disparaging words about Mexicans, negative comments about women and weak campaign organization have punctuated the state’s shift from a nip-and-tuck battleground to one that’s Democrat-friendly.

For the first time in more than 20 years, there are now more registered Democrats in the state than Republicans.

“Trump is turning off as many key voter groups as we have in this state,” said former state Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams. “I would have to believe Trump’s having trouble.”

And it’s not just Colorado. Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric and weak campaign structure could ensure that perennially competitive Nevada and New Mexico are out of reach as well.

That matters for Trump. He can’t win the 270 electoral votes needed to capture the presidency without capturing some states that favored Barack Obama in the last two elections.

The three Southwestern states — which have a combined 21 electoral votes — might have offered some hope. All backed Republican George W. Bush 12 years ago.

But Trump isn’t making as much of a push for those states as is his likely Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. He made his first campaign appearance in Colorado just Friday, speaking at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver.

Clinton made her fifth trip on Wednesday, proposing college-loan deferment for graduates who start businesses. It was a tactical move aimed at swaying young voters, many of whom flocked to Sen. Bernie Sanders, who beat Clinton soundly in March’s Colorado caucuses.

“Hillary has some ground to make up,” said Craig Hughes, who ran Democratic President Barack Obama’s winning 2012 Colorado campaign. “But compared to Trump, Hillary is in a far, far better place.”

In Colorado, Clinton’s campaign is spending $2.4 million on television advertising this month through Election Day, while a group that supports Clinton, Priorities USA, is spending $13.6 million, according to Kantar Media’s campaign advertising tracker. In Nevada, Clinton is spending $2 million and Priorities USA is spending $10.4 million.

Neither Trump nor any super PACs supporting him have reserved advertising time in the two states. Super PACs are organizations that can spend unlimited funds on a candidate, but can’t coordinate with the campaign.

The National Rifle Association’s political arm is making small ad buys — $155,000 in Colorado and $98,000 in Nevada — to attack Clinton’s handling of the attacks on diplomatic compounds in Libya while she was secretary of state.

Clinton has had staff in Nevada for more than a year, ahead of the state’s early caucuses, and in Colorado for almost a year. Trump has a Colorado state campaign director and a Southwest regional director in Nevada.

If Colorado is a stretch for Trump, Nevada and New Mexico may be out of reach with their larger Hispanic populations and wider Democratic edge. The number of Hispanic voters has boomed in Nevada, more than doubling as a percentage of the state’s voters since 1980, to an estimated 22 percent this year. In New Mexico, nearly half the population is Hispanic.

Trump has alienated Hispanics with his call to build a wall on the Mexican border, his plans to deport the roughly 11 million immigrants who are in the United States illegally and by characterizing some Mexican immigrants as drug smugglers and rapists.

Still, Nevada Republican strategist Ryan Erwin says Trump could salve the wounds were he to make the effort himself.

“As that population changes, it’s harder for a Republican presidential candidate that isn’t here all the time,” said Erwin, 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s Nevada director.

But Trump is relying on the Republican National Committee for staffing, as he is in all competitive states, said Trump’s Colorado director, Patrick Davis.

“There’s only so much one presidential candidate can do,” Davis said. “You’ve got to use all of the means of communication to get it done.”

Trump’s statements, late organizational start and Clinton’s statewide organization have her Colorado director Emmy Ruiz cautiously optimistic.

“I think the odds are in our favor. But I don’t think that they are strong odds. I also don’t think they are high enough for us to sit back,” Ruiz said.

Part of Clinton’s tail wind: Democrats in April nosed ahead of Republicans in voter registration for the first time since 1994. Since 2012, Democratic voter registration in Colorado has grown 7.5 percent, compared to 5 percent for Republicans.

In Nevada, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 70,000, a gap that Democrats and Republicans say could top 120,000 by Election Day. It’s a small but significant chunk of the state’s 1.5 million voters.

“Unless and until Republicans can match the kind of funding Democrats have put into their voter registration here, Republicans are going to fall behind,” said Erwin, the Republican strategist.

Last week, 18-year-old Kevin Garcia knocked on doors in 100-plus degree heat, registering Las Vegas residents to vote. He then attended a Clinton campaign calling session at a pizza restaurant.

Garcia, whose family emigrated from Mexico, was among about a dozen callers sipping cold Pepsis and using cellphones to call Nevadans. His goal was to make 100 calls that night — some in Spanish.

He said he supports Clinton because of her support for allowing people in the United States illegally to stay under certain circumstances. And because of Trump’s rhetoric.

“And my whole family is naturalized,” he said. “We’re all citizens.”

On the Web

Keep track of how much Clinton and Trump are spending on television advertising, and where they’re spending it, via AP’s interactive ad tracker.

Terror in the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’

An act of terror.

An act of hate.

The world responded with love and compassion, fury and fight.

Early on the morning of June 12, a gunman armed with an assault rifle and a handgun went on a rampage at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida. He killed 49 people and wounded more than 50 others — some gravely.

The 29-year-old killer was an American who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, abused his wife, used slurs against blacks, Jewish people, women and gays — although he himself was a regular patron of Pulse. He went on to terrorize LGBT people in that place that existed to celebrate Pride and provide sanctuary.

Orlando — famously known as the “Happiest Place on Earth” — became the site of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, a massacre that left Americans mourning the many lost and struggling to address extremism, prejudice and gun access.

“I can’t stop crying. I can’t make any sense of it all,” said Henry Rivera of Orlando, a transgender man who works at a restaurant just outside Disney World. “Everything seems different now.”

Music, dancing, and terror

On June 11, more than 300 people crowded into the high-energy club on South Orange Avenue for Latin night, an evening that promised entertainment by two drag performers, as well as dancing and music — salsa, meringue, bachata.

Shortly after 2 a.m. on June 12, Omar Mateen, armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a Glock handgun, attacked the club, according to reports from the Orlando Police Department and FBI. As WiG to press, authorities were still compiling a detailed and complete timeline of what happened at Pulse.

Survivors described chaos as Mateen launched a barrage of bullets, striking people at the bar, on the dance floor, in the restrooms and elsewhere.

An off-duty Orlando police officer working as a security guard at the club responded to the gunfire. More officers arrived and Mateen retreated deeper into the club, then into a bathroom.

At 2:09 a.m. an alert was posted on Pulse’s Facebook page: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.”

Dozens of people ran from the club, and more than 100 police officers responded to what became a standoff.

Police believe Mateen killed most of his victims in the first 30 minutes. Those remaining in the bar were either hostages or in hiding.

At 2:39 a.m., Eddie Justice texted his mother from the bathroom in the club:

“Call them mommy”

“Now”

“I’m still in the bathroom”

“Hes coming”

“Im going to die.”

Justice did die. His last text from the club was at 2:50 a.m.

At about 5 a.m., police used a controlled explosion and an armored vehicle with a battering ram to clear a way for people inside the club to escape.

Mateen died in an exchange of gunfire with police shortly after that.

Violent, conflicted and radicalized

The killer talked with police three times during the standoff, FBI Director James B. Comey said in a televised news briefing from headquarters in Virginia on June 13. Comey said calls from the killer to law enforcement began about 2:30 a.m. During those calls, Mateen, who was born in New York, claimed allegiance to the leader of Islamic State, as well as to the perpetrators of the 2013 Boston Marathon attack and to a Florida man who died as a suicide bomber in Syria.

“These are strong indications of radicalization by this killer and of potential inspiration by foreign terrorism organizations,” Comey said.

He added that the bureau, along with state and local law enforcement, were trying to understand “every moment of the killer’s path” leading up to the shooting.

The FBI was already familiar with Mateen. In May 2013, the bureau began investigating him after co-workers said the contract security guard made inflammatory comments and claimed a family connection to al-Qaida. He was interviewed twice but the case was closed.

Two months later, Mateen’s name came up as a casual acquaintance of a Florida man who blew himself up in Syria.

“Our investigation turned up no ties of any consequence between the two of them,” Comey said. “We will continue to look forward in this investigation and backward. We will leave no stone unturned.”

According to AP, the investigation found that Mateen, the son of an Afghan immigrant, was a body builder who attended a mosque in Fort Pierce, Florida, and wanted to become a police officer.

AP also reported there were questions emerging about whether Mateen was conflicted about his sexuality. He allegedly cased Gay Days at Disney World about a week before the shooting and was seen regularly at Pulse. He apparently used gay dating apps as well.

Mateen’s first wife, from whom he was divorced, has said he was abusive and suffered from mental illness. The killer’s father said Mateen expressed a hatred of gays, recently expressing anger at seeing two men kiss.

Mateen’s father also made homophobic remarks to the press, saying that it was wrong for his son to shoot gay people because their punishment should come from God.

“While the motive behind this crime remains unclear, our resolve to live openly and proudly remains undiminished. Now is a time for the whole nation to stand together against violence,” Rea Carey, the executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, said June 12.

Chad Griffin, the president and CEO of the Human Rights Campaign, said, “This tragedy has occurred as our community celebrates Pride, and now more than ever we must come together as a nation to affirm that love conquers hate.”

Memorials and mobilizing

Vigils took place as early as June 12 and continued for days after the shooting.

Many of the observances included a moment of silence and a reading of the victims’ names (see “The slain, next page). Many vigils ended with candleholders singing “Over the Rainbow.”

Hundreds sang, “If happy little bluebirds fly/Beyond the rainbow why, oh, why can’t I?” at the end of a vigil June 13 in Sarasota, Florida, the hometown of Edward Sotomayor Jr., who recently helped to organize the first LGBT cruise from Florida to Cuba. Sotomayor was shot while trying to get his boyfriend to safety.

Many at the Sarasota vigil called the mass shooting a hate crime and, though there were demands for stricter gun control, the focus was on anti-LGBT violence.

“This attack was with guns, but our people have been killed with knives and bombs and fists, too,” said Patricia Callahan of Lakeland, Florida. “We can’t forget.”

Vigils took place across the country, at city halls and courthouses, plazas and parks, community centers and gay bars.

“This unimaginable atrocity has not only robbed countless people of their loved ones, it has also stolen a sense of safety within the LGBTQ community,” said GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.

In New York City, many gathered outside the Stonewall Inn, considered the birthplace of the modern LGBT civil rights movement. There, they chanted, “No hate, no hate! More love, more love.”

In Wisconsin, multiple vigils took place, including in Milwaukee, Madison, Racine and Appleton.

There also were many memorials outside the United States. In Paris, U.S. and gay Pride flags flew at city hall and the Eiffel Tower was lit up like a rainbow.

Heads of state sent letters of condolence and issued condemnations. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said his country stands “shoulder to shoulder with our American brothers and sisters,” and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah called the shooting a “senseless act of terror and hate.”

Afghanistan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah urged “collective actions to end such attacks.”

At the United Nations, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein decried insufficient gun control in the United States and criticized the irresponsible pro-gun propagandizing in the country.

‘America’s rifle’

Criticism also was leveled in the United States.

The massacre is “a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship or in a movie theater or in a nightclub,” President Barack Obama said June 12, in remarks from the White House. “And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be.”

Mateen was armed with the handgun and a Sig Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle — marketed in the U.S. as a “modern sporting rifle.” He purchased it at the St. Lucie Shooting Center in Florida. Semi-automatic rifles also were used in mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut; Aurora, Colorado; San Bernardino, California; and elsewhere. The NRA calls that weapon class “America’ rifle.”

After the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, the president dedicated the start of his second term to pushing legislation that would have banned certain assault-style weapons and capped the size of ammunition clips. The effort, however, failed in the U.S. Senate due to heavy opposition from Republicans who are backed by the National Rifle Association.

In the years since, some reforms have taken place at the state level. But GOP-headed states, including Wisconsin, have enacted measures to weaken gun control laws.

On June 13, Senate Democrats renewed calls for reform and Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ presumptive nominee for president, repeated her call to keep weapons of war off the streets and “out of the hands of terrorists or other violent criminals.”

Clinton and the president postponed a campaign visit to Green Bay scheduled for June 15, as the president made plans to visit Orlando on June 16 to “stand in solidarity with the community.”

 

The slain

As WiG went to press, these were the known dead in the Pulse terror attack:

Stanley Almodovar III, 23; Amanda Alvear, 25; Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26; Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33; Antonio Davon Brown, 29; Darryl Roman Burt II, 29; Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28; Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25; Luis Daniel Conde, 39; Cory James Connell, 21; Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25; Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32; Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31; Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25; Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26; Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22; Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22; Paul Terrell Henry, 41; Frank Hernandez, 27; Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40; Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19; Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30; Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25; Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32; Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21; Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49; Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25; Kimberly Morris, 37; Akyra Monet Murray, 18; Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20; Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25; Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36; Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32; Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35; Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25; Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27; Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35; Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24; Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24; Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34; Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33; Martin Benitez Torres, 33; Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24; Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37; Luis S. Vielma, 22; Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50; Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37; Jerald Arthur Wright, 31.

 

Donations and support

Equality Florida, the statewide LGBT civil rights group, established a GoFundMe page to raise money to support those injured and the families of those killed at Pulse. Donations are accepted at www.gofundme.com/pulsevictimsfund.

The Associated Press contributed to these reports.

For updates and continued coverage, go to www.wisconsingazette.com.

 

Trump protesters follow his California appearances

Hundreds of rowdy anti-Trump protesters broke through barricades and threw eggs at police Friday outside a hotel where the GOP frontrunner addressed the state’s Republican convention. Several Trump supporters said they were roughed up but no serious injuries were reported.

The protest just outside San Francisco occurred a day after anti-Trump protesters took to the streets in Southern California, blocking traffic and damaging five police cars in Costa Mesa following a speech by the leader in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Demonstrators at both locations waved Mexican flags, an action meant to counter Trump’s hard stance on immigration and disparaging remarks about Mexico.

Because of the protest, Trump was rerouted to a back entrance. In a surreal scene, news helicopters showed the billionaire businessman and his security detail walking between two concrete freeway barriers before hopping down onto a grass verge and walking across a service road.

“That was not the easiest entrance I ever made,” Trump quipped when he started speaking to the convention delegates. “It felt like I was crossing the border.”

Outside, crowds of anti-Trump protesters broke through steel barricades and pelted riot police with eggs as the officers stood shoulder-to-shoulder to keep the demonstrators from entering the hotel.

A man wearing a red hat bearing the Trump campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” was punched in the head from behind while being jostled by a group of shouting protesters. Another Trump supporter said he was punched and spit upon by demonstrators who also threw his phone to the ground.

“It went gangbusters. They attacked me,” said Chris Conway, a mortgage broker from San Mateo.

Burlingame is right outside San Francisco, a liberal bastion that became the focal point of the immigration debate last year when an immigrant in the country illegally, and who had been deported multiple times, shot and killed a woman walking with her father.

Immigration has been one of Trump’s main issues and he often has highlighted the San Francisco killing while touting his plan to build a wall along the entire Mexican border.

California’s primary is June 7, a date once seen as too late to influence the selection process. Now it is seen as the election that either gets Trump over the threshold needed for the nomination or leaves him just short.

He’ll likely make many visits to California in coming weeks. That and his hard stand on immigration in a state where millions of immigrants live and that’s run by Democrats who generally support more benefits, services and job opportunities for those in the country illegally raise the prospects of more raucous demonstrations.

In Orange County, once a Republican stronghold but now home to a surging Hispanic population, a vocal but peaceful demonstration before a rally and Trump speech turned violent afterward. At least 17 people were arrested, five police cars were damaged and an officer was hit in the head by a rock but not seriously hurt, authorities said.

One anti-Trump protester bloodied the face of a supporter in a scuffle.

Dozens of cars — including those of Trump supporters trying to leave — were stuck in the street as several hundred demonstrators blocked the road, waved Mexican flags and posed for selfies in front of lines of riot police.

There were no major injuries and police did not use any force.

Trump protesters have followed the candidate since he began his California trip Thursday with a rally at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, where he filled the Pacific Amphitheatre to its capacity of about 18,000. Many hundreds more were turned away.

Despite the show of support inside the fairgrounds, at least 17 people were arrested after a crowd of Trump protesters turned violent.

Trump protesters, mostly young Latinos according to the Los Angeles Times threw rocks and swarmed cars. A man wearing a Trump T-shirt One man was injured in the face.

Protesters punctured the tires of a police SUV, tried to flip over another and scrawled anti-Trump graffiti across several cars and venue’s marquee, according to the San Diego Tribune. One man was recorded jumping on top of a police cruiser as others smashed out the back window.

Delegate-rich state

It’s possible that California, home to the largest trove of delegates, could provide the margin to anoint nominees in both major parties.

California’s GOP platform  defies expectation in a state known as a Democratic fortress. There have been pushes toward moderation, but the group tends toward conservative leanings and favors calls for a strong national defense, free markets, tax cuts and shrinking the size of government. It’s also socially conservative: the state party’s platform defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and wants Roe v. Wade reversed.

Trump opposes abortion but has spoken favorably about Planned Parenthood. He has warned against cutting into Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, often targets for conservatives who want to slow government spending. When Trump earlier this month said transgender people should be able to use whichever bathroom they choose, Cruz’s campaign released a statement saying Trump was “no different from politically correct leftist elites.” The California platform endorses free markets; Trump has long criticized U.S. trade policy and advocated steep tariffs on Chinese goods.

How Trump fares this weekend could be an indicator of his fortunes on June 7. The event marks an unofficial kick-off for the California race, which will award 172 delegates — a rich trove in the race for the 1,237 required to clinch the GOP presidential nomination. Currently, Trump has 994 delegates, Cruz has 566 and Kasich has 153, according to the AP’s delegate count.

The contest in the nation’s most populous state — Los Angeles County alone has more people than Michigan — is vastly complicated, playing out in what amounts to 54 separate races on a single day — one in every congressional district and one statewide.

The winner in each district collects three delegates; then, the candidate who gets the largest number of votes statewide claims a bonus of 10 more, plus the state party chairman and Republican National Committee members for a total bonus of 13.

An independent Field Poll released earlier this month found Trump with a 7-point edge over Cruz, 39 percent to 32 percent, with Kasich trailing at 18 percent and the rest undecided.

“Donald Trump is not going to agree with every member of this audience on every issue but he remains the rock star of this presidential race,” said Thad Kousser, who teaches political science at the University of California, San Diego.

But inside the California GOP, Cruz has something of a home field advantage. He’s been organizing in the state since last summer, and is supported by four former state party chairmen, along with a host of elected officials and activists.

With Cruz’s organizational roots in the state, a challenge for Trump will be breaking into the party establishment to line up as many supporters as possible in congressional districts he needs to win in June.

Kasich, the holder of one primary victory, his home state of Ohio, is looking to make inroads in California districts that could be favorable to his more moderate credentials and bolster his bid to stay in the race.

 

Wisconsin needs to be welcoming place for immigrant workers

Thousands rallied on Feb. 18 in Madison to protest two pieces of legislation. The bills deal with restrictions on issuing local identification cards and a ban on “sanctuary cities,” where police and other public employees are not allowed to ask about someone’s citizenship status.

It’s critical that Wisconsin be a welcoming place for Latino and other immigrant workers who play such an important role in many parts of the economy.

Dairy farmers face significant struggles in finding and retaining workers because of the demands of the job. This is a very real problem and one that poses a major threat to our farms as well as the host of businesses and services connected to dairy.

Dairy accounts for $43.4 billion of Wisconsin’s annual economy, almost half of agriculture’s overall impact. Immigrants, particularly Latinos, are key.

A University of Wisconsin-Madison study in 2009, the most recent available, found that about 40 percent or 5,300 of all employees on dairy farms in the state were immigrants, with 90 percent of them from Mexico.

Ultimately, federal immigration reforms are needed to provide some avenue for those workers to remain in the country regardless of their status.

The state bills could have limited practical impact, but they signal that Wisconsin does not value immigrants’ contributions.

That’s not the sort of message we should be sending. Driving away immigrant workers is not the answer.

Editor’s note: The Dairy Business Association is a nonprofit organization of Wisconsin dairy farmers, milk processors, vendors and business partners.


Report finds wide health coverage gap for Hispanic kids in Wisconsin

About 9.3 percent of Hispanic children in Wisconsin in 2014 were uninsured, leaving nearly 14,000 kids without coverage according to a new report from Georgetown Center for Children and Families and the National Council of La Raza.

This is comparable to the national uninsured rate for Hispanic children, which reached a historic low of 9.7 percent.

However, the findings also show that Wisconsin has stagnated in making progress.

“While Wisconsin is on par with the national average, it did not reduce its rate of uninsured Hispanic children in 2014. There are still steps the state can take to move forward and be more of a leader in coverage,” said Sonya Schwartz, a research fellow at the Georgetown University Center.

The report highlights health inequities for Hispanic children when compared to all children. The uninsured rate for Wisconsin’s Hispanic children was more than double the percentage of all children in the state who were uninsured — 4.4 percent.

“We’re eager to move the needle in 2016, so Wisconsin can truly be a leader when it comes to health coverage for all our communities,” stated Sashikala Gregory, health care policy analyst for the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families.

In particular, the council urged state lawmakers to accept federal funding for Medicaid expansion, which would make health care more affordable for adults. When parents have access to health coverage, their children are also more likely to be covered.

“Every single child, no matter their background, deserves access to high-quality, affordable health care,” said Gregory. “Accepting federal Medicaid dollars helps all Wisconsinites, including Hispanic families. It’s time we close the health coverage gap and help kids get the health coverage that gives them a better chance to succeed in school and in life.”