Puerto Rican Flag in Police Photos of Drug Raid Haul Called Offensive

Photos of troopers from the New Jersey State Police posing by a cache of drugs, with one officer waving the Puerto Rican flag, have upset the Puerto Rican community and prompted an investigation, El Diario La Prensa reported last week. To view the photos, visit NJ.com. Below are some translated excerpts from El Diario’s article:

Despite the fact that the images are from a raid in 2009 carried out during a search and seizure operation in Camden, the controversial photos were made public last Thursday. They depict a group of five police officers behind a table displaying drugs and weapons confiscated during a search and seizure operation, and one of the police officers is holding the Puerto Rican flag in one of his hands.

Community leaders voiced their indignation.

Wilfredo Caraballo, a law professor at Seton Hall University, considered the images a “slap in the face” to the Puerto Rican community, “an insult from any point of view,” and explained that whether the photos are official or personal in nature, “there isn’t any justification for them.”

Caraballo said that rules should exist for police officers to prohibit them from suggesting any kind of ethnicity, especially when considering “the context in which police officers are waving the Puerto Rican flag, for which we hope they will be punished.”

Lidia Valencia, president of the Puerto Rican Congress, called the photos “a mockery and offensive,” El Diario reported, and said that she had been assured that the State Police Department will hold the officers accountable.

“There isn’t any reason for it. Even if the flag had been found at the site of the raid, why not leave it on the table as evidence, instead of holding it up in your hands?” said Valencia.

She added, “For now, we are waiting until the investigations are complete, and we’ll see what measures the department takes to punish the officers.”

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