Friday, September 13, 2013

Mexican Fiesta Organizers And WHSF Deny Access To HNNUSA During News Conference In Milwaukee

Ruben A. Burgos and Alexander C. Ayala

Hispanic News Network U.S.A. was denied access to the Mexican Fiesta and Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation's news conference about using the Milwaukee Police Intelligence Center to profile and identify alleged gang members in order to ban them from the three day event.

By H. Nelson Goodson
September 13, 2013

Milwaukee,  WI - On Friday, the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation, Inc. (WHSF) and Mexican Fiesta organizers denied access to Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA), but allowed access to three local Spanish media outlets and CBS 58/Telemundo 63 to their news conference at 2997 S. 20th St. 
Ruben Burgos, retired Milwaukee Police Lieutenant of Detectives, recently named the UMOS Hispanic Man of the Year and active Board member of WHSF said, that he was present at the Mexican Fiesta office to "deny access to HNNUSA."
Although, Burgos was kind enough to provide HNNUSA with a copy of their statement about allegations of violating festivalgoers First Amendment rights at the Summerfest grounds. During the last Mexican Fiesta event, Milwaukee Police Officer Alexander C. Ayala and president of the Latino Peace Officers Association (LPOA) claimed that they were using the Milwaukee Police Intelligence Center to profile and identify alleged gang members, to singled them out in front of the public, family, friends and then kick them out from the event. No prove of the allegations was ever provided to those that were identified and expelled from the Fiesta. None of those expelled were ever given a refund for the last three years.
Fiesta organizers just confirmed, that indeed they are working with the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) to actively identify potential gang members under a "zero tolerance" policy, which definitely violates the First Amendment rights of those accused or label as gang members, despite if inaccurate information is provided by MPD. 
Fiesta organizers and WHSF states, "Mexican Fiesta's policy is that known active gang members will not be allowed onto the grounds. The plan is to have the Anti-gang unit of the Milwaukee Police Department identify known, active gang members as they attempt to enter the Summerfest grounds. Mexican Fiesta security will then deny entry to these identified individuals." 
In fact for the last three years, Mexican Fiesta organizers and  under Burgos, who previously was the LPOA president have actually been profiling, discriminating and kicking out people from the three day event for the way they were dressed and who unfortunately looked differently like having tattoos not in good taste for Fiesta organizers.
Most of these Latino Fiesta organizers and Board members of the WHSF are highly educated people associated with educational institutions, law enforcement, financial businesses, and civil rights national groups like LULAC and NCLR. What good are their accomplishments today some might think?, when they themselves are encouraging discrimination and engaging in profiling of their own community members and treating them like outcasts. 
Since the end of August, Facebook users have been spreading their intent to boycott Mexican Fiesta in 2014.
Some Facebook users have even posted, will the Fiesta organizers keep undocumented immigrants that have violated federal civil laws from attending Fiesta? Fiesta depends on the revenue generated from undocumented immigrants to continue operating and to provide scholarships to certain students, but festivalgoers undocumented children are not accessible to WHSF scholarships! Why?
Only students who are U.S. Citizens or legal permanent residents can apply for WHSF scholarships, according to the scholarship application from WHSF/Mexican Fiesta and LULAC Councils 319 and 322.
Citing several First Amendment prior cases, in 1990, LULAC 9900 (later became WHSF) who managed Mexican Fiesta was sued for banning the distribution of Satélite, a bilingual variety newspaper that featured on its front page a photo of Miss Mexican Fiesta 1990 in a one piece polka-dot swim suit, calling it in "bad taste."
The staff of Satélite were "forcibly removed" kicked out by police for distributing the newspaper inside the grounds. Satélite later filed a lawsuit. They claimed that their First Amendment rights were violated when Mexican Fiesta organizers barred them from distributing the paper at the festival in 1990. They also claimed that Maier Festival Park, which hosts other ethnic festivals during the summer, is public in nature and an appropriate place for the exercise of First Amendment rights.
In June 1992, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge William D. Gardner ruled that the Summerfest grounds are a "public forum" where there is a First Amendment right to freedom of expression,  even when the grounds are occupied by an ethnic festival.
Gardner said, "City government created the grounds to be a place where the public could gather and experience the ethnic and cultural diversity of the community." The Mexican Fiesta attorney had argued that the organization was private and by leasing the grounds, it had discretion to decide what would be allowed on the grounds. Judge Gardner disagreed.
Mexican Fiesta paid Satélite $15,000 in an out-of-court settlement, after Judge Gardner's ruling. It was an important ruling because it was finally determined that the Summerfest grounds are a "public forum" where there is a First Amendment right to freedom of expression. 
In August 2003, three Milwaukee Outlaws filed a federal lawsuit against Summerfest claiming that they were arrested, cited for trespassing and kicked out of the grounds on July 2, 2003 by police for wearing their Outlaws motorcycle club colors. They claimed a First Amendment violation because they had paid their way in to the festival and once inside police cited them and then were kicked out for wearing their colors. The Summerfest grounds is city owned land and leased to the Milwaukee World Festival, Inc.
An attorney for the Outlaws and an attorney for Summerfest later agreed to allow the Outlaws dress how they like when attending events at Summerfest. Thus, eliminating the discrimination against wearing colors. 

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