One of the most noticed problems among Bedford County's wave of illegal and legal Hispanics -- but one not talked about enough by officials -- is obvious alcoholism.
Note these excerpts from last weekend's police reports involving Hispanics. See Brian Mosely's column elsewhere on this page for one example of where some of these problems may be originating. Here's where many of those at the Wartrace Pike soccer fields may end up after their day of partying.
Two reports of people passing out:
- "A Hispanic male was lying on his back ... unconscious ... on the front porch of (a West Jackson Street) residence. The owner of the residence did not know the subject." The officer woke the man, who was drunk.
- "While on patrol I saw a Hispanic male passed out in the driveway" at a Couch Lane home. The resident didn't know him. He was awakened, found to be drunk and gave false information to the arresting officer after initially refusing to answer questions.
And four drunken drivers:
- "He drove his pickup into his other vehicle, damaging both." (To clarify, the man wrecked both his own cars.) "He then got into his brother's vehicle and prepared to leave. He stated he had consumed five beers ... he became loud and belligerent" and, later, "intentionally obstructed the (Intoximeter) test."
- "I was on routine patrol (at 5:05 a.m.) on Madison Street when I observed a vehicle coming toward me in my lane of travel. I had to steer into another lane to prevent myself from being hit."
The man, who was charged with DUI, allegedly said, "No way, Amigo!" when asked to submit to a blood-alcohol test.
- "I observed (a man) walking on Barksdale Lane (at 3:07 a.m.) and staggering along the edge of the road. I could smell ... alcohol." The man, who said his destination was three miles away, was charged with public drunkenness "for his own safety."
- "I received many calls of a possible drunk driver on North Main Street. I made contact with the vehicle on the 82 Bypass. The vehicle made U-turns in the roadway as I turned around on it."
Over the past few weeks I've made reference to possible vision problems and a unusually-high incidence of infant deaths among Bedford County's Hispanic population.
I don't want to come across as if I'm picking on one ethnic group. But the number of Hispanics being arrested, mostly for drinking violations, is far out of proportion in terms of their overall percentage of Bedford County's population.
It's reached the point where at least once a week drunken Hispanics have accidents, often crashing into innocent drivers. Many, if able, jump out and run from their wrecks. I've actually seen one occasion where one's car simply stopped running at an intersection and he ran.
Few, if any, are licensed or have insurance.
Police are doing the best they can. Many, if not most, of the drunks they catch are being stopped at night -- when officers can't see inside the cars -- so no one can claim racial profiling.
I'd like to see more efforts to fight alcoholism from those involved in attracting Hispanics here to begin with.
Because some of those firms and people -- they, and you, know who they are -- who make huge profits at Hispanics' expenses, both in terms of employing and selling to them, can find one big source of these problems by simply taking a look in the mirror. They, too, bear responsibility, even if indirectly, in solving the problem they helped initiate.
David Melson is a Times-Gazette copy editor/staff writer. Comments welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org .