Durham, N.C. — Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez put some of his frustrations in print Friday, blasting fellow members of the Latino community for inaction that he says allows violence and gangs to exist in his city.
In a letter printed in the Durham Herald-Sun and local Spanish-language publications, Lopez, who was born in the United States of Puerto Rican parents, begged Latino parents for cooperation in identifying criminals and solving crimes.
"I ask that you not only help me but, help yourselves to stop these tragedies. How? By identifying those who are in these gangs, where the firearms are stored and disarming your own children which are important in order to stop the violence," he wrote.
On Friday night, Lopez granted that his message may be hard to hear, but said he waited for others to step up, only to be disappointed.
"It is the Latino community hurting the Latino community and the only ones who can stop that are the Latino community," he said.
Katushka Olave, who works with the Latino community at the Immaculate Conception Church in Durham, found Lopez's letter hurtful and disappointing. She agrees that issues need to be addressed but felt the letter called out one specific group.
"We know there are probably some parents that need a little more guidance, but this is a responsibility of the whole community," she said.
Lopez said he addressed his letter to the Latino community because he is Latino. He said he hopes leaders in other ethnic groups will also speak out against crime.