EAST HAVEN, Conn. — Santiago Malave has worked law enforcement jobs in Connecticut for more than four decades, but as a Puerto Rican, he says he cannot drive through his own town without worrying about police harassing him.
Malave, a probation officer who works in New Haven, says the racial abuse is so bad that he only crosses the town line into East Haven to go home. He and his wife are now preparing to sell their house and move, joining an exodus of Hispanics who say police have hassled them with traffic stops, false arrests and even jailhouse beatings.
The Justice Department has started a civil rights investigation, and the FBI recently opened a criminal probe. But that has not changed things on Main Street, where restaurants and stores that cater to Hispanics are going out of business.
If the goal of police was to ruin East Haven’s Hispanic community, some grudgingly say they have succeeded.
“We can’t tolerate the town anymore,” said Malave, 64. “For us to leave our beautiful home is something that hurts, but we can’t deal with these people.”