The Pasco Shooting Of Antonio Zambrano-Montes Points To The Dangers That Minorities Face

PARK CITY, KS - FEBUARY 26: Police tape hangs across the street in front of the house that Dennis Rader lives in February 26, 2005 in Park City, Kansas. Rader is the suspect whom police have arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder in connection with the 10 deaths now tied to the serial killer known as BTK. (Photo by Larry W. Smith/Getty Images)
Source: Larry W. Smith/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Less than a year after the death of Michael Brown and the subsequent protests, a not dissimilar police shooting killed a man across the country last week. A 35-year-old Hispanic man, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, was shot dead by three police officers in Pasco, Washington after reportedly throwing rocks at cars and police officers. While the events in Ferguson brought attention to police officers' racial bias against blacks, Zambrano-Montes' death demonstrates that Hispanics often face the same inequalities.

A cellphone video of the shooting has been circulating on the Internet, showing the three police officers chasing Zambrano-Montes across the street before shooting him as his hands are in the air, clearly not holding a weapon. Investigations were opened by several agencies, including the local police, the county coroner, and the FBI and the three officers involved were placed on paid administrative leave for the duration of the investigations. 

Zambrano-Montes' family, originally from Mexico, has lived in the U.S. for three decades, working as apple pickers in nearby orchards. His widow and two daughters have filed a $25 million claim against the city alleging that the officers killed their husband and father "execution style." In Pasco, a town that's 56 percent Hispanic, hundreds gathered over the weekend to protest the fatal shooting, shouting "We want justice!" Like in Ferguson, the shooting has inflamed the existing racial tensions between the majority-minority residents and the dominantly white government and law enforcement. 

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The shooting bears similarities to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, all of which involved unarmed men of color in fatal encounters with police. Brown and Garner's deaths brought to light the rampant racial discrimination in law enforcement against black men and the Pasco shooting is doing the same for Hispanics. The racial discussions spreading across the country have been solely focused on the black community, with campaigns like #BlackLivesMatter, but Hispanics often face the same inequalities. 

FBI Director James Comey recently admitted that police officers act on racial biases, a fact that most of us already knew. However, it's important to recognize how widespread the discrimination is and the different groups it affects. Blacks are not the only people of color who get stereotyped by police and are affected by institutionalized racism. Unfortunately, it took yet another tragic shooting for America to realize this.


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