Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Dec. 11, 1997
issue of Workers World newspaper

‘Speak out against racism & they call you a gangster’

Interview with Latin Kings & Queens leader

By Carlos Rovira
New York

The street-youth organization known as the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation has been targeted for repression from the police and slander by the media. The most recent incident came Nov. 15 in Brooklyn, N.Y., when police arrested 24 members for "unlawful assembly."

They are despised by law-enforcement officials for their stance on racism and police brutality. In 1994, for instance, the ALKQN actively supported the family of Anthony Baez, a young Puerto Rican shot and killed by racist killer cop Francis Livoti as he played touch football on the street.

The ALKQN has been gradually developing a political perspective that poses a threat to the ruling class. They support many struggles, including those of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, the Puerto Rican and all political prisoners.

Workers World interviewed ALKQN leader King Tone.

WW: What do you believe is the reason for police harassment and arrests of your members?

KT: When anyone speaks out against the powers, they take the risk of being silenced. New York Mayor Giuliani calls us a gang because we speak out against his gangster policies. They hope to silence us with fear, by using the police to come down on us.

WW: How is this connected to the negative media the Latin Kings and Queens have received?

KT: The media is controlled by millionaires—men who all they care about is the almighty dollar and selling young people $125 sneakers. They control gangsters like Giuliani, [New York Gov.] Pataki and Clinton. If you attack their racist policies, the media will then attack you.

Does the media speak out against politicians who take money away from schools and use it for metal detectors, hollow-point bullets, police and jails? Does the media say anything about us having the right to a good-paying job and a decent home for our children?

Politicians are always doing media stunts. They try to brainwash people and make the police who kill us look good. I dare any news reporter who claims to have dignity and self-respect to fight for coverage of the truth.

WW: Why do you call yourselves kings and queens?

KT: We call ourselves kings and queens to promote a sense of worth and self-respect. Latinos are always made to feel that we are worthless. What we are saying is that Latinos are kings and queens of our lives. Just like Puerto Ricans are the true kings and queens of Puerto Rico—not the United States who invaded our land.

WW: What is your view of colonialism in Puerto Rico?

KT: The ALKQN did not know about colonialism in the beginning. But when we began to study our past we saw how the abuse of today is part of the past. We want what is rightfully ours—our right to have a free nation with our own government, our own army, our own economy and our right to elect Lolita Lebron president if we want.

WW: How do you view the struggle for women’s equality?

KT: Women must have equality to men. Putting up with job situations that pay less than men is unjust. They should not have to suffer cleaning streets for a miserable welfare check or see their children and husbands killed by the police. We want a world our mothers, sisters, daughters and wives can enjoy without oppression. They are the other half of our people.

WW: What is your view of the struggle for gay and lesbian rights?

KT: In the past we had rules against gay members. But as we came to a new level, we recognized that the rights gay people fight for are the same the ALKQN want. We cannot fight discrimination if we discriminate against anyone, including our gay and lesbian members.

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