Racial tension remains after shooting | VailDaily.com

Racial tension remains after shooting

Nicole Frey

EAGLE COUNTY- Although Eliseo Madrid said he doesn’t think his wife’s murder by a white man was racially motivated, there’s no denying racial tension exists in the Eagle Valley, residents said.However, they also agreed Maria Madrid’s death hasn’t exacerbated the situation that some see as a more serious problem than others. “I think that there is a little bit of tension with the Mexicans,” said Leticia Harrison, who has campaigned for minority rights. “They still feel like there are a lot of prejudiced people in the area. That’s the perception, but I don’t know that it’s 100 percent correct.”Eagle County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Bill Kaufman said there’s more to the tension than just race. There is friction between Hispanics who have been here for generations and newcomers, he said. “There’s also a growing tension about construction workers and jobs over the years,” Kaufman said. “One side is saying, ‘They’re taking business away,’ but the other side is saying, ‘This is the land of opportunity.'”Harrison said while some of the perceived racism is blown out of proportion and sometimes it’s an easy scapegoat for difficult circumstances, she has seen racism in action. “I’m a Mexican, and when I have issues with people I don’t think it’s because I’m Hispanic,” she said. “But sometimes, even in the schools, you could see that the kids are being treated different because of the racial difference.” Harrison said she’s seen children harassed by teachers because of the color of their skin. “I know there is this friction,” she said. Jan Abbott, a counselor at Battle Mountain High School, said the school’s racial diversity creates language, social and economic barriers for students.”Their natural inclination is to group with those that they share something in common with, but I think they do coexist well,” Abbot said. She used the soccer team as a prime example of races coming together to work, play and build relationships. Downvalley at Eagle Valley High School, Gypsum resident and mother Marty Lich said the students segregate themselves.”It’s mutual, but it breeds animosity,” Lich said. “I see it much more in Gypsum than in Eagle – maybe because in Eagle, the parents and students are both very involved in the community, with their families and the school. When you have that, it tends to make a better emotional group. In Gypsum, a lot more kids are left unattended.”However, School Resource Officer Ted Eichholz said, “It’s very, very rare that we see racial issues at school.”Eagle Valley High School Principal Mark Strakbein said any problems that arise are studied and addressed. “We come up with solutions that are based on respect and honoring the common purpose that everyone is allowed the right to an equal education.” Strakbein said. “There are cases where people do not understand where people come from both figuratively or literally, but mutual understanding and respect can ultimately solve anything.”Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or nfrey@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado

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