Featured illutration by Shepard Fairey
Injustice is all around us. It comes from every angle, and everyone is bound to feel it at least once in his or her lifetime. If you’re Latino, it’s almost guaranteed. Currently Latinos in Arizona are bombarded with racism and harassment; Chicago has a set of major injustice issues as well. I think everyone is well aware of all the political corruption and police brutality problems Chicago has had over the years. The injustice I’m talking about is much worse and completely unforgivable. Four families have lost their children to the ignorance and idiocy of two Chicago police officers. At the same time, the Chicago police stand by these men and protect them. While America continuously goes ape-shit over cases such as Natalee Halloway and Laci Peterson, these young Latinos’ cases go forgotten.
In case you have no idea what I’m talking about I’ll spin it for you quickly. On November 22, 2007, Erick Lagunas, 21, and Miguel Flores, 22, lost their lives to a drunk driver. This was by no means an ordinary drunk driver. The man behind the wheel was Chicago police officer John Ardelean. The accident happened early near Damen and Oakdale in the Roscoe Village neighborhood. Thanksgiving Day became a day of mourning and sadness for those two Cicero families. After the accident, Ardelean only received two tickets: misdemeanor DUI and a traffic violation. Earlier that night of the accident, surveillance cameras at the Martini Ranch clearly show him taking multiple shots of alcohol. According to the “reliable” bartender and John Ardelean, it was only shots of water!? Honestly in all my years of drinking and having friends who worked as bartenders, no person comes to a bar to drink shots of water! Clearly the Martini Ranch and the bartender are in cahoots with Chicago police and Mr. Ardelean. On June 4th, 2010, all charges were dropped against John Ardelean. Ardelean was cleared of aggravated DUI and reckless homicide charges in the deadly crash. Justice was raped by men who clearly have the power to bypass the law.
This would not be the last time a Chicago police officer would get behind the wheel drunk. On April 10, 2009, Joseph Frugoli was intoxicated three times the legal limit. He got behind the wheel and barreled southbound down the Dan Ryan expressway. At the same time Fausto Manzera, 21, and Andrew Cazares, 23, were sitting in their disabled vehicle in the emergency lane. A drunken Joseph Frugoli plowed into the boys, bursting their cars in flames. Soon after, Frugoli tried to flee the scene of the crime leaving the boys to die in their car. The detective was charged with two counts of aggravated driving under the influence, two counts of reckless homicide, and one count of leaving the scene of an accident. The cowardice of the man to leave the boys he condemned to death to die alone on the highway! Another human being with an ounce of character would have done something or at least checked on them. This man is a repeat offender when it comes to massive traffic accidents. Just a week before the Dan Ryan deaths he was ordered to pay $7,100 to his previous accident victim. Another officer with little regard for the law. His bail set off an outrage among the victims’ families and supporters when it was set at only $500,000. So that’s the price of two lives? Currently the Chicago police force has been holding fundraisers for Frugoli’s bail, so we know where they stand on the issue now. The case hasn’t come to a close, but I think we can guess the ending. A spoiler for all those who can’t guess, true justice won’t be served.
There should be consequences for erasing a life from existence. These men took an oath to protect and serve. It’s one thing if an ordinary man is drunk on the road. For these public servants to continuously go out and take lives due to their incompetence and blatant disregard for law and order is a disgrace. To protect these men is an even worse crime. That is even more disregard for law and justice itself. I can’t help but to believe if these boys were from higher income homes and Caucasian the outcome would be much different. The truth is minorities never see the same kind of justice white people do. We don’t get a major case squad like in Law and Order fighting for our cases. We get stomped under the boot of power and oppression. It never ends, even with the recent police beat down at the Columbia College residence hall. This is nothing new. The only reason this was a big deal is because they finally have it on tape. Everyday I can tell you a new tale of police abusing their power and Latinos not getting the same justice as others. The sad truth is if people don’t stand up and voice their disgust for this garbage, then it will never go away. The sooner we forget the crimes these vile men have committed, the sooner these boys’ deaths will be in vain. In the end, these men walk and breathe freely, while four young men with promise will never breathe again.