LatinaLista — Here's a tale about two sheriffs with two very different views of the communities they serve. One saw the hurt and panic of his constituents and made a bold stand. The other sees the hurt and panic of his constituents and feeds it with callous and inflammatory remarks.
Some will argue that any comparison between the two is like comparing apples and oranges. But in highlighting the differences in how both of these men treat their constituents, it underscores the fact that there are times when humanity takes precedence over rule of law. And it's an official who can see the bigger picture that understands when that must happen.
Illinois Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart has taken the bold stand of refusing to evict anymore people from their homes in Cook County, which also includes the city of Chicago.
Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart
The people whose welfare Sheriff Dart is looking out for are tenants in buildings where the landlords have failed to keep up with their mortgages. But it's not just the landlord that suffers in these cases, it's the families who live in the buildings who have obediently paid their rents and bills only to find all their belongings sitting out by the curb when they get home from work.
Sheriff Dart had enough. He declared that he no longer was going to evict innocent people for the mortgage companies. That didn't go over very well with the Illinois Bankers Association who accused Dart of being in contempt of court for ignoring the eviction orders.
But Sheriff Dart doesn't care what the town's bankers say.
"When you're blindly sending me out to houses where I'm coming across innocent tenant after innocent tenant, I can't keep doing this and have a good conscience about it."
At least that's one sheriff with a conscience.
North Carolina's Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell doesn't hold any empathy for the Latino, or as he says, Mexican, residents of his community. In an interview with a local reporter last month, Sheriff Bizzell expressed his frustration with the local Latino community in no uncertain terms.
North Carolina Sheriff Steve Bizzell
In private conversations, Bizzell reveals that his deeper concerns, and those of his constituents, are as much about changing demographics as about crime.
"How long is it going to be until we're the minority?" he said one night in August, as he drove the darkened streets of Smithfield.
Because of this fear of change, Bizzell didn't mind being quoted in the same article saying "Mexicans are trashy," or that they are "breeding like rabbits."
He resents how some of the men get drunk and end up fighting with one another, never taking into consideration that anyone who is miles from home and family and whose days are spent working from dawn till dusk will take advantage of any outlet to ease their loneliness.
No, to Sheriff Bizzell Latinos disrespect him and his officers. How does he know this?
He demonstrated his point by waving, from inside his cruiser, to a man walking through a trailer park. When the man gave a blank stare, Bizzell said smugly, "See. They hardly ever wave back. It's like you're the enemy."
Ever since Sheriff Bizzell's comments were made public there has been an outcry by some for his resignation. It's reported that he apologized for his comments and has kept mum since then. The city leaders have largely stood behind him which has made local organizations take up the slack and organize prayer vigils and protests to denounce the sheriff's statements.
As a result, a new group formed that is forcing a question that many people will find uncomfortable to answer:
A new group, N.C. Religious Coalition for Justice for Immigrants, issued a call this week for greater tolerance of immigrants in America, legal or illegal. Have we, as a culture, become intolerant of illegals?
The answer may lie in the question itself.