Louima was born in Thomassin, Haiti. He immigrated to the United States after receiving a degree in electrical engineering. Like most Haitian immigrants, Louima was hoping to escape the brutality and insecurity of Haiti for a more prosperous and safe life in Brooklyn, but instead, he came face to face with the brutality he hoped to escape. The attack on Louima came on the heels of a narrative that depicted Haitian immigrants as worthless. The man who was the Mayor of New York City in 1997 (Rudolph Giuliani - as US Assistant Attorney General) had kept 2,000 Haitian immigrants boat people in detention. A few years earlier, the Food and Drug Administration had declared that Haitian immigrants were responsible for the spread of HIV. Certainly, factors such as social class, ethnicity, and Louima 's race played a role in the attack. Police officers knew Louima was Haitian and an immigrant. Mayor Giuliani had created a situation that made such crime possible. His law and order approach to law enforcement turned the Police Department into a rogue organization against minority, black and immigrants. In New York City, crimes such as rape and assault are committed every day, but what makes this crime horrifying is the perpetrators. A random person did not commit this crime; it was perpetrated by a white police officer that had gone out of his way to humiliate an immigrant voiceless black person. Had Louima been a white man from Eastern Europe, it is highly unlikely that he would have been the victim of such crime.
The relationship between the victim and the offender was one of power. Justin Volpe was a police officer whom the victim had reason to believe he could trust and would protect him. Justin Volpe was upse...
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Police brutality is a daily reality in the lives of African-Americans, especially immigrants who may not speak English, and unable to communicate effectively. Louima was one of those immigrants. But, what happened to Louima was not simply a case of police brutality during an attempt to effectuate an arrest. It was a crime committed by the person with unquestionable authority, and whom Louima had reason to trust and obey his command. During an interview in 1999 with a local New York City Newspaper, Louima said: "If I become the symbol for change, then this will (sic) make me feel better." Whether, Louima himself, became the symbol of change is hard to confirm, but his case brought police crimes, brutality, and corruption to our collective consciousness. But it also confirmed our belief in the justice system that no one is above the law.
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