Brutality Against Illegal Immigrants Is
Table of Contents:
Excerpted from "Riverside Drive West,"
The American Spectator
, June 1996. Copyright The
American Spectator. Reprinted by permission.
John Corry is a senior correspondent for the American Spectator, a conservative monthly
It was Rodney King all over again, with a reminder of O.J. Simpson. An 80-mile chase on
California freeways in April 1996 ended when a truck carrying twenty-one
finally stopped. Videotape shot by a helicopter news crew caught two sheriff's
deputies clubbing the driver of the truck and a passenger with nightsticks. The videotape was
shown over and over on CNN, and it made all the evening news programs. Cries of outrage
immediately followed. The Mexican government charged racism, while the White House
expressed concern, and civil rights and
groups held demonstrations. Hypocrisy lay
thick on the ground, along with intrusions into domestic politics. Republican rhetoric, apparently,
had led to the beating of the Mexican driver and his passenger. Actually, they were lucky they
only got clubbed.
Consider the provocations. The truck evaded a Border Patrol checkpoint. Various police units
then pursued it, reportedly at speeds up to 100 miles an hour. Passengers in the truck threw beer
cans at the pursuers. When the camper frame on the truck became loosened, they threw chunks
of that. Meanwhile, the driver of the truck sideswiped cars, presumably as a diversionary tactic.
When the truck stopped, the occupants bolted, except for the driver and two passengers. Two
sheriff's deputies from Riverside County then approached, while the news crew hovered
overhead. An international incident was born with the resulting fifteen seconds of videotape. It
showed that the Mexicans offered no resistance when the deputies hit them. The driver of the
truck, Enrique Nunez Flores, suffered a hairline fracture of an elbow. His companion and
perhaps common-law wife, Alicia Soltero Vasquez (or Leticia Gonzalez, depending on which
paper you read, and when you read it), required no immediate medical attention, although
apparently she suffered bruises. It was unclear what happened to the other passenger—he wasn't
on the videotape—although his lawyer said later that he also had been beaten.
Grant now that the deputies acted improperly. As the
Los Angeles Times
and virtually every
other California news organization reported, they had violated Riverside Sheriff's Department
noted that on the videotape, "neither deputy can be seen discharging
pepper spray, and neither appears to display his baton as a warning to the suspects before striking
also reported that one of the deputies "once was associated" with a group of