Monday, March 31, 2014

Mexican Fiesta Should Be Kicked Out From The Summerfest Grounds For Profiling And Discriminating Its Own People

Ruben A. Burgos and Alexander C. Ayala


The Summerfest grounds are City of Milwaukee property, thus Mexican Fiesta, including the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation its sponsor should not be allowed to profile or discriminate its people for exhibiting body art (tattoos) and publicly labeling as gang members with the aid of the Milwaukee Police Department, while attending the festival endangering the lives of innocent victims.

By H. Nelson Goodson
March 31, 2014

Milwaukee, WI - Last August, the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation (WHSF), a non-profit organization who sponsors the annual three-day festival was exposed by Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA) after it learned that for at least the last four years, the Latino Peace Officers Association (LPOA) along with members of the Milwaukee Police Department used city resources and its department intelligence to profile and discriminate festivalgoers for having tattoos and clothing not in good taste, according to festival organizers. HNNUSA reported that two people at the festival were profiled and targeted by the LPOA and police for having tattoos or believed to be affiliated with a gang.
They were forced to vacate the festival or get cited and arrested for disorderly conduct when in fact the victims did nothing wrong at the event or violated any laws. Both of the victims were kicked out from Fiesta and no refunds were ever returned, including being barred from entering the event during the weekend long Mexican festival. HNNUSA confirmed, that both victims were not affiliated to gangs as police and the LPOA pretended to portray as the reason to violate their civil rights on city grounds.
Most members of the LPOA are in law enforcement and should know better then to profile people and accuse them of gang affiliation when in fact they were not. It was a clear violation of the victims civil rights, if in fact these members of the LPOA were in active duty, they wouldn't act the same. 
We believe countless victims were unjustly kicked out from Fiesta during prior years by the LPOA. Mexican Fiesta (WHSF) rents the Summerfest grounds from Milwaukee World Festival, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which they rent the Henry Mier Festival Park (Summerfest grounds) from the City of Milwaukee. 
Since the grounds where the WHSF holds its three-day Mexican Fiesta is city property, it shouldn't engage in blatant profiling and discrimination against its own people that it depends on generating revenue for its operation, staff salaries, funding projects and scholarships for students. This year, WHSF will include awarding scholarships to U.S. government registered DACA students (DREAMers) for the first time in decades, after HNNUSA criticized the organization for endorsing and advocating for immigration reform, but excluded DREAMers from getting any of the $2.5M of scholarships that it had previously awarded.
Mexican Fiesta was created by the Mexican community in the late 1960's to early 1970's to generate funds for scholarships and to include community involvement and not to exclude or discriminate its own people. 
Several WHSF Board members conceded that LPOA controls Fiesta security and they can't prevent the volunteer LPOA staff from discriminating. These two members and even the entire Board of Directors of WHSF do have the sole authority to change policy and to ensure accountability from LPOA, that no laws are violated by it members to prevent any lawsuits for violating the civil rights of festivalgoers at city property. The Board becomes liable, if a lawsuit is filed due LPOA's inappropriate actions at the festival.
Former LPOA president Ruben A. Burgos, a retired Lieutenant for Detectives even denied access to HNNUSA in September, during a press conference about the same issue of profiling that HNNUSA had reported on. They only allowed several media outlets that support Fiesta and are co-sponsors. It only showed that, WHSF and Burgos don't believe in free press and actual news reporting when it exposes their policy to profile and discriminate its own people and volunteers at Fiesta.
The WHSF Board should stop their practice to bar festivalgoers with tattoos at their event and stop using city police resources to profile Milwaukee residents as gang members when in fact they're not.
The City of Milwaukee Common Council, Mayor Tom Barrett and Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. should consider in revoking the WHSF contract to hold its Mexican Fiesta at the Summerfest grounds for their blatant policy to profile and discriminate against members of its own community it is suppose to serve.
WHSF should become more transparent concerning funds generated and expenditures, allow community input to assure profiling and discrimination is avoided during the festival, hold current LPOA president Alexander C. Ayala and Mexican Fiesta executive director, Teresa Mercado accountable for letting it happen.
If the Board fails to eliminate the profiling and discriminatory policy, the community should demand the removal of the entire Board of Directors. Mexican Fiesta is facing a boycott at the moment for the issues mentioned, according to Facebook users spreading the word throughout the Midwest.

Editorial note: An open records request to the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) requesting how many times did its intelligence center was used to provide information to police or Mexican Fiesta officials about victims alleged gang affiliation in 2013 and several years prior went unanswered. The open records department at MPD denied the request. Was Burgos as a Board member following the wishes of the entire WHSF Board to ban HNNUSA from the September press conference or was he acting alone? It seems HNNUSA is currently prevented from covering any public held activities at the WHSF warehouse office property. What do they have to hide from the community it self?

Milwaukee Police and LPOA profiling at Mexican Fiesta 2013 (Spanish version): News Video

The current Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation, Inc. (WHSF) Board of Directors who operate the annual Mexican Fiesta are;

● Antonio Guajardo Jr. (President)

● Gregorio Montoto (1st Vice President)

● Ricardo Ruiz (2nd Vice President)

● Arturo Martinez (Secretary)

● Ernesto Baca (Treasurer)

● Teresa Mercado (Executive Director)

● Ray Bacalzo

● Frank Gonzales

● Woody Welch

● Marjorie Cervera

● Oscar Cervera

● Julio Maldonado

● Luis Gonzalez

● Julio Guix

● Lupe Martinez

● Ruben Burgos

● Jason Hyland

● Diana Moreno

● Asael Ruiz

● Darryl Morin

These Board members can be contacted for information regarding Mexican Fiesta 2013 or WHSF.

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