MALDEF SUIT STOPS EXCLUSION OF MEXICAN AMERICANS FROM "WHITES ONLY" CEMETERY
Normanna Cemetery Association Agrees that Refusal to Bury Latino Residents is Discriminatory and Violates Rights of Latino
July 25, 2016
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - A MALDEF lawsuit filed in April aimed at stopping the exclusion of Mexican Americans from being buried in a "Whites Only" Cemetery came to a swift end Friday when the Normanna Cemetery Association agreed in court that its policy is discriminatory and violates the rights of Latinos.
"Separation after death is one of the cruelest and most wholly inexplicable of all historical policies of racial exclusion," stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. "MALDEF is pleased to have placed one more of these anachronistic policies in the realm of antiquity, where they belong."
MALDEF and the Normanna Cemetery Association informed a federal court in Corpus Christi, Texas Friday that the Normanna Cemetery Association agreed to have judgment entered against it in the case and further agreed to a permanent injunction prohibiting the Cemetery Association from denying burial to individuals on the basis of race.
Located in the community of Normanna in Bee County, the San Domingo Cemetery has for decades maintained a policy of prohibiting Latinos and African Americans from being buried in the cemetery. Earlier this year, the racially exclusionary cemetery refused to bury Pedro Barrera, a Mexican American resident of Normanna. His wife Dorothy sought to have him buried at the cemetery, but in response to her request for burial services, the San Domingo Cemetery caretaker told her "absolutely not." He explained that the association had already voted against the request and directed Mrs. Barrera to bury her husband at a different cemetery.
"It is difficult for communities to heal from historic racial wounds when discriminatory policies such as segregation still exist," said Marisa Bono, MALDEF Southwest Regional Counsel and lead counsel for the plaintiff. "This case sends a clear message - these practices are against the law and lead to serious consequences."
MALDEF filed the lawsuit on behalf of the American G.I. Forum of Texas, a non-profit membership organization that serves and advocates on the behalf of Latino military veterans throughout the State of Texas.
"We were shocked to know this type of discrimination still exists," said John Martinez, Commander of the American G.I. Forum of Texas, Inc. "We warn other cemeteries engaging in similar practices that we will not tolerate it and stand ready to take you to court to ensure equal rights for all Americans, especially those who have served our country."
A copy of the original complaint in this case is available HERE.
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.