The Hispanic Access Foundation, a coalition of Latino organizations and lawmakers, held a press conference on April 28 to advocate a variety of changes for public lands (video below).
One of the group's demands is to change the "threatening" uniforms of National Park Service rangers because they look too much like Border Patrol uniforms, noted CNSNews.com.
Maite Arce of the Hispanic Access Foundation said:
Change is difficult, and for our federal government, change is really difficult. And I think that there is going to be a need and what we’re calling for is drastic, very scary change. And one example I can give you is with the Latino community, especially among the border cities, but even nationwide, just the simple color of the uniforms that rangers wear.
And I work with rangers and I work park staff, and they are such passionate, wonderful people who love to share their knowledge of science, their knowledge of these beautiful places with everyone who is interested in listening and it makes the whole park experience so much better.
And it’s such a shame that something as simple as the uniform, and it’s similarity to the Border Patrol's uniform, in the coloring, could be very threatening for certain segments of the Latino population. And so a discussion about that is going to be really tough.
The Hispanic Access Foundation is calling for President Obama to sign an executive order that would make the Department of Interior and Department of Agriculture provide greater inclusion on federal lands, reports the Washington Times.
According to its position paper, the organization is calling upon the federal government to "[a]ssess the cultural implications of existing agency uniforms, offices, signage, and other facilities. For example, the Park Service law-enforcement vehicles look like those used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and uniforms have law enforcement connotations, both of which present a significant impediment to engaging all Americans."
The coalition also calls on the government to "[i]dentify strategies to partner with faith groups and local organizations to facilitate events and outreach efforts that leverage parks and other public lands as a forum for critical conversations and atonement – allowing for community restoration and reconnection in a meaningful way."
The coalition wants the feds to "[r]eview names of sites throughout system for cultural bias. Some sites may require comprehensive name changes to reflect a broader and more inclusive history. In particular, to honor American Indian Tribal, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian heritage."