Local News

Despite Arrests, Hispanic Community Remains Fearful

Posted November 1, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— It may seem like a peacful place to live, but one Durham community is filled with turmoil. People there say they can no longer live in fear.

Across the Triangle, the Hispanic community is growing. Unfortunately, crimes against Spanish-speaking residents are also on the rise.

Friday, Durham Police arrested two suspects in connection with a recent rash of robberies involving Hispanics. While police are stepping up efforts to try and solve the problem, many people feel their safety and their lives are still in jeopardy.

Francisca Ocampo keeps a watchful eye on her children while they play. Like many in the Spanish-speaking community, she doesn't feel safe.

They take everything. My money. My I.D. Two times, they take everything.

In the last year, there have been more than 150 crimes against Hispanic residents in Durham. On Friday, officers arrested 17-year-old Taqiyy Coley and 22-year-old Romone Miles in connection with a series of recent robberies. Both are charged with 18 counts of robbery and kidnapping.

Durham Police are still looking for two other suspects and believe all four might be linked to other crimes against Hispanics.

"Now that we've established some means of communication," explains Detective Hector Borges, "we can solve some of these issues, some of these crimes."

Detective Borges acts as a liason between the police and the Spanish-speaking residents. It's his job to help solve crimes in their neighborhood.

"Thanks to the police, maybe they'll catch the other robbers," says Ocampo. "I like that."

Despite being robbed twice in one year, Ocampa says she's staying put. But many of her neighbors are packing up in search of a safer place to live, hoping that crime won't again be their newest next door neighbor.

Coley and Miles are both being held on $2 million dollars bond. Their first court appearance is scheduled for Monday.

Editor's Note:The Hispanic population is one of the fastest growing groups in the country. By the year 2050, the census bureau says 53% of America's population will be white.

The Hispanic population is expected to climb to 24%. African Americans will account for 13% of the population.