My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Shocking story from Wisconsin: Census worker accuses police of profiling and harassing him while doing his job

H/t to Stephanie Jones and The Journal Times for the following scoop. I really could not believe my eyes when I read this story:

RACINE – A U.S. Census Bureau worker has accused Racine police of harassing him while he was working last week and said he has filed a complaint.

Alexander Avila, 21, of Racine, was out last Friday knocking on doors for the census when police in an undercover car stopped him to ask what he was doing, he said. They then started harassing him about his brother who has warrants out for his arrest, he said. They ended up giving him three tickets for traffic violations, which he said were not justified.

I felt scared, intimidated, threatened and racially profiled,” said the written complaint that Avila said he filed Monday with the police department.

Racine Police Chief Kurt Wahlen said his department will be fully investigating the complaint.

But Wahlen said, “We have a right to ask about his brother.”

His brother, Steve Avila II, has nine warrants out for his arrest for traffic violations, Wahlen said.

Avila said once he told police he didn’t know anything about his brother they should have let him continue with his job.

I was treated unfairly,” he said to The Journal Times Monday.

Representatives from the U.S. Census Bureau confirmed Alexander Avila works for the Census and Muriel Jackson, spokeswoman for the bureau, said “we will look into this.”

Avila’s grandmother, Maria Morales, coordinator for Voces de la Frontera in Racine, reported the incident to the Journal Times and Avila confirmed it. Both are U.S. citizens, they said.

Voces de la Frontera is a Wisconsin nonprofit that works to help low-wage and immigrant workers.

Morales has been involved with events to address racial profiling and police harassment and she couldn’t believe now it happened to her grandson.

Police stopped Avila when he started on his route on the 1100 block of Erie Street, he said.

When police stopped him they asked him what he was doing and he told them he was working going door to door trying to collect information for the 2010 Census and showed them his identification, he said. They then questioned the validity of his identification and then when they saw his name they started asking about his brother. He told them he did not know where his brother is and does not talk to him. But one of the officers accused him of lying , Avila said . Then the officer told him that he had seen him driving and said he failed to signal when he turned at State Street, Avila added. They also told him he was driving suspiciously, Avila said in his complaint. He told officers he has a binder full of addresses for people he has to contact and he said he was having trouble finding some of the addresses.

Then police accused him of reading the binder while he was driving, but he said he was not reading while he was driving.

I knew the address and street numbers but … I just had a difficult time finding them,” he said in the complaint.

He ended up receiving three tickets for failure to signal, inattentive driving and obstruction of vision because he had two small necklaces hanging from his rearview mirror, he said.

He said he filed the complaint because he was treated unfairly and didn’t want it to go unreported.

I just want them to know they cannot go around and harass someone for no reason,” Avila said. “I don’t want to be afraid.”

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6 Responses to “Shocking story from Wisconsin: Census worker accuses police of profiling and harassing him while doing his job”

  1. sg Says:

    Sounds like the kind of cop thuggery that’s becoming more and more prevalent in the so-called “Land of the Free”.

  2. nygen Says:

    In Gladstone, Missouri a black census worker was stop by a gladstone policeman and his drivers license and census badge taken from him and not returned. Trying to harass a worker?

  3. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    Hi, can you send me some more details about the incident in Gladstone, Misouri?

  4. sg Says:

    Not strictly relevant, but here’s video of what you can expect from law enforcement “professionals”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbwSwvUaRqc&feature=player_embedded

    Capsule summary: Cops (coincidentally, also from Missouri) bust into a home looking for the dreaded cannibis. Even though they’re layered in armor, apparently the family dog scares them — so they shoot it within seconds. In front of a seven year old.

    Remind me — who are “the terrorists”, exactly?

  5. Greg Says:

    All I can say is Alex should stay away from Las Vegas because this type of thing goes on around here ALL THE TIME. A few weeks ago I was stopped, harrased and searched – the reason? I had a crack in my windshield. Apparently if you have ‘crack’ in your windshield chances are you also have ‘crack’ in your car. Now, my friends refer to my car as “The Crack-mobile” and I’m “Crack-Man”.

  6. holly Says:

    I have had them endlessly harass me on the phone after I filled the form out 2xs and talked to someone they sent to my door…. anyway, i thought i would turn it into something funny. Please read…
    http://itsgrindingmygears.blogspot.com/2010/06/dear-mr-census-worker.html