"Deportees to El Salvador (a country many had fled during the civil war of the 1980s) encountered discrimination because of their accents, style of dress and California gang-themed tattoos. "[Deportation Nation, NYT, August 30, 2012, Emphasis added. ]Here's a photo of one of the victims of this prejudice, having his tattoos examined and recorded by El Salvador's UTO, the Unidad Tactica Operativa. This is Spanish for, roughly, SWAT Team. (They haven't made him take off his shirt. He was already not wearing a shirt.)
This is from the August 2005 S.W.A.T. Magazine, and there are more and scarier photos if you buy the electronic edition. These deportees are really scary people, and the "discrimination" against them is justified, based on the "content of their character. "
While it also is based, in a literal sense, on the "color of their skin"(the tattooing) it is absolutely not based on race and national origin, because the police and the gangsters are of the same race and national origin, something which is is no longer true in America.
In an article on policing and racism in 2010, I wrote.
After describing a field interview with a guy named Pee Wee, who had been a gangster in Arlington, Virginia, before being deported and becoming the Policia Nacional's problem, photojournalist Chris Barfield writes:
"[The tactical squad] photographs Pee-Wee and his various tattoos since he is unknown to the officers. They document his name and let him go. Surprisingly, the contact ends in a handshake, as do many of the others we would experience during our time with the police. While the UTO [Unidad Tactica Operativa] 'rolls big,' and carries enough ammunition for a prolonged firefight, they also show remarkable courtesy and respect to the citizens they come in contact with."[On The Front Lines Against MS-13: El Salvador's UTO, by Chris Barfield, SWAT Magazine, August 2005]Why does this sound so bizarre in today's America?
Why does sound like something that could only happen in a British detective story set in the Fifties—or possibly in a Robert B. Parker story about South Boston where both the police and the gangstersare Irish?
Well, that's the point—on that Central American street, both police and gangsters are members of the same nation. That means that they are friendlier as enemies than minorities in America are with police who are responding to their calls for help.