No Puerto Ricans and spics were allowed to sit at that table and that the table is for white people only.
Kissimmee Police Department Initiates an Internal Investigation on a Hate Crime Cover-up
By the United Front of Central Florida (April 5, 2010)
Kissimmee, Florida --- On January 10th, 2010, Mr. Hector Negron, a resident and business owner of the City of Kissimmee walked in to Joanie's Diner in downtown Kissimmee at approximately 9:00-9:30 am to have breakfast. Mr. Negron then proceeded to sit at a back table, by the time he touched the chair to take a seat the waitress approached him and stated that he could not sit there because no Puerto Ricans and spics were allowed to sit at that table and that the table is for white people only. Mr. Negron could not believe what he heard, he responded by asking the waitress what she just said and she replied "you hear me!"
Immediately thereafter, the owner, Jim, approached the table and told Mr. Negron "Did you hear what she said? No Puerto Ricans and spics at the table! You people need to go back to wherever you came from and you people need to speak English when you come to my country!" Jim and the waitress once again told Negron "You cannot sit at that table!"
Mr. Negron, feeling intimidated and threatened, looked around for help and Jim states "These people in here are my friends they are not going to help you or say anything! I have friends in the Kissimmee Police Department!"
Mr. Negron then walked towards the front door to leave the restaurant but the owner would not allow him to leave through the front door and demanded that he leave through the back.
Mr. Negron, in fear went to the Kissimmee Police Department to report the incident in hopes of receiving some kind of help, Officer Jeff Hanna responded to the call. When Mr. Negron explained the account in detail to officer Hanna he responded by saying "Jim is right, that table is grand fathered in for whites." Mr. Negron, flabbergasted by what officer Hanna said, demanded to speak with Hanna's superiors and he was told that officer Hanna's superiors would be out for a number of days but they would contact him. Mr. Negron did not receive any sort of contact from the Police Department after that.
Mr. Negron then decided to take matters into his own hands, he went to the City Manager's office to explain his account of what happened at the Diner and the Police Department and he again hit a dead end with yet another City official.
With no other options and no one willing to help Mr. Negron contacted United Front of Central Florida, a non-profit organization that protects the rights of small businesses. The organization then contacted Commissioner Art Otero who then through witnesses stated that officer Hanna is in fact a regular at Joanie's and has been seen sitting and eating at that very table with the owner Jim and friends.
Officer Hanna has stated that Mr. Negron was not being truthful. At the request of United Front, Mr. Negron volunteered to a polygraph examination, which he convincingly passed (SEE ATTACHED).
The large Hispanic community and Commissioner Otero is demanding a Federal Investigation apart from the IA investigation. The Hispanic community is organizing a MASSIVE protest in downtown Kissimmee against the City of Kissimmee and the Kissimmee Police Department for covering up this Hate Crime.
English Media- Ruben De Jesus (407) 948-9066
Spanish Media- Barbara Hernandez (407) 802-9196
HISPANICS WILL REQUEST FULL INVESTIGATION AT KISSIMMEE CITY HALL MEETING!
TUESDAY, APRIL 6, 2010 - 5:30 PM
KISSIMMEE CITY HALL, 101 N. CHURCH STRETT, KISSIMMEE, FL 34741
BARBARA HERNANDEZ, 407-802-9196
RUBEN DE JESUS, 407-948-9066
Kissimmee group protests discrimination claim
by Víctor Manuel Ramos
Orlando Sentinel (April 5, 2010)
Latino activists in Kissimmee are calling a protest on behalf of a local business owner who alleges that he was discriminated at a local restaurant because he is Puerto Rican.
Hector Negron, a 47-year-old man who owns Carlito Brigante Fashion Boutique in Kissimmee, said he went to Joanie's Diner for breakfast on January 10 and was told by an unidentified waitress that he could not sit at a back table because it was reserved for white customers.
He said the woman told him that "no Puerto Ricans and [an offensive term for Hispanics] were allowed to sit at that table." Negron said he complained to owner James Peeples, but the man kicked him out of the restaurant. He also reported the incident to the City of Kissimmee and the Kissimmee Police Department, but said a police officer told him that the table was "grandfathered in for whites."
The incident allegedly happened in January, but activists from a group calling itself "United Front of Central Florida" revived the matter this past weekend, complaining to the City of Kissimmee and the Kissimmee Police Department about how the matter was handled.
"What we want is respect," Negron said. "I hope the county and the city will open up their eyes and say it's 2010 and this can't happen anymore. I don't want to do any damage to the restaurant because they have to live just like me, but I am just upset."
The restaurant owner denies the incident happened the way Negron describes it. He denies any discrimination at the restaurant, saying that Negron was asked to leave because he was arguing with a waitress.
"We have people of all races, colors, creeds sitting anywhere they want," said Peeples, who has owned the restaurant for about two years. "I asked him not to argue with the waitress and those were my only words to him... He has absolutely no witnesses at all that are going to stand up and say what happened."
The Kissimmee Police Department started an internal investigation, but spokeswoman Stacie Miller said the officer found there was no criminal case. "There was nothing criminal done that the police department could enforce," Miller said.
Members of the activist group, affiliated with an east Orlando organization known as United Front 436, are planning to gather at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Kissimmee City Hall to attend a city meeting and raise their concerns. The group is also planning a protest for Saturday at 12 p.m. at the Toho Square in downtown Kissimmee.
"What we are asking the city is that they should not be issuing an occupational license to a business that violates the rights of Puerto Ricans and Latinos," said Rubén de Jesús, who identified himself as a community leader.
City Commissioner Carlos Irizarry, who is Puerto Rican and has been to the restaurant as a customer, said that people can raise their concerns at the meeting, but there is little else he could do.
"I did my job as commissioner in telling the city manager and the city attorney about this complaint against the police officer... As a city commissioner, that's the most I could do," Irizarry said. "I was not there to know if there was or there wasn't discrimination."
Víctor Manuel Ramos can be reached at email@example.com. He is also on Twitter at http://twitter.com/vmramos. Blog subscribers can read and comment on the original post at http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1103275551801&s=13748&e=001h25GmUQRTcLFQOd5LtqXY9_dU3OTrnEwNsaCfJ5pfKMxXe-3C_DLcUIAPUlvflrulIj3mimIUfbjYJvgg0OCm0tJ3cyZ6qALgm5cBzrr4n0amGN4LLKeqbWa3_yw1Kta53qkbk8ONPI=.