RACINE - A local U.S. Census worker who said city police discriminated against him while he was working appeared in Racine Municipal Court today for tickets that he said he did not deserve.
He pleaded not guilty to three tickets and said he will go to trial if he needs to.
Alexander Avila, 22, of Racine, was out April 30 knocking on doors for the U.S. Census when police in an undercover car stopped him, allegedly harassed him and then gave him three tickets.
Avila claims that Racine police started harassing him about his brother, who police said had warrants out for his arrest. They also allegedly questioned if Avila was actually a Census worker, even though he had identificiation on him, Avila said.
When Avila couldn't tell police where his brother was, he said police, who had been following him while he was driving, gave him three tickets. The tickets were for failure to signal, inattentive driving and obstruction of vision because he had two small necklaces hanging from his rearview mirror.
He is fighting all three tickets.
"I want them to know they were wrong," he said. "I want it to be proven."
While Avila was in court, a group of about 10 supporters also gathered inside.
"I think it reads like injustice," said Jim Cusack, 73, of Lake Geneva, who is a member of Voces de la Frontera, a Wisconsin nonprofit that works to help low-wage and immigrant workers. He said he came to Racine to provide support.
Avila has also filed a complaint with the police department about the incident, which the police said they would investigate.
Avila is due in court again at 1:45 p.m. on June 10 for a pretrial conference, where he will meet with someone from the city attorney's office to decide if it will go to trial.