Word Gets Out 

City's Hispanic community reacts

City's Hispanic community reacts

At markets and in restaurants, at video stores and on Spanish-language radio stations, Nashville’s Hispanic community is gathering steam.

“These stories of abuse reminded me of the Gestapo,” said Jose Maldonado, a native of Guanajuato, Mexico, as he rolled out a sheet of pastries at La Favorita bakery on Nolensville Road. “I was surprised. I moved here from Los Angeles because I thought it was quiet and relaxed here. But apparently Nashville has the same problems.”

Immediately after the Scene reported in a two-part series on abuse against the city’s Hispanic community by a now-defunct private security firm called Detection Services, Hispanic leaders—and local politicians—reacted swiftly to condemn what has happened. The mayor has formed a committee of Hispanic leaders and others to discuss ways to open up channels of communication. And many have promised corrective action in the future.

But now the story is reaching a wider audience of Hispanics, in part because it was translated and published in a Spanish-language weekly publication called El Crucero de Tennessee. That publication, and Nashville’s three Spanish-speaking radio stations, have brought the story to thousands more Hispanics, many of whom do not speak English and generally fly under the radar of traditional, English-speaking media.

David Bermudez, the editor of El Crucero de Tennessee, said that after the story appeared in his paper’s 5,000 issues, he noticed that reaction hit another level entirely.

“People are now very worried about it,” he said. “They have definitely reacted. How did this happen? How could it happen? This is what they want to know. A lot of people are talking about getting organized.”

One place where Hispanics have been voicing their opinions is on “La Ley,” a Spanish-speaking radio station. There, listeners have been encouraged to call in and talk about the stories.

It was on the radio, in fact, where Juan Cruz, an El Salvadoran who owns Las Americas Market on Nolensville Road, said he heard discussion about the abuse. Having lived in Nashville for 17 years, and having owned the market for three, Cruz said many of the city’s newer Hispanic residents often turn to him for advice and discussions about the city.

“Things have happened to me over the years with the police that I don’t like,” he said. “So I tell them of my own experiences. There needs to be something done so that Hispanics don’t have so much mistrust. I don’t trust a lot of things myself.”

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