Filmmaker Shelley Weiss moved from Los Angeles to Oakley, Utah, nine years ago. An avid swimmer, she quickly became a regular at the Park City Racquet Club. Over the past few years, she has heard racist comments there about the growing number of Mexican workers in town.
Weiss: "The people at the racquet club would get complaints from
the tennis players that the Mexican guys were staring at the women
in their tennis skirts - stuff like that. Or there's a horror
story: A little girl couldn't speak English, so her teacher lost it
with her. She said, "If you can't speak English maybe you should
quit school and get a job."
"So I got together with the
police department, the Catholic Church, people from the racquet
club, citizens trying to address the situation. At the same time,
Abelardo Rea was meeting with some of the Mexican people, laborers,
figuring out how to improve their image in town. Because there is a
criminal element - drug dealers - in the Mexican community. It
wasn't a big number, but the perception was that the whole
community was gangs and drug
"So we merged our
groups. It's called Conexiùn Amigo. We meet daily. It goes all
the way from working closely with the police department, to trying
to get the Mexican community to patrol itself for drug dealers, to
having fiestas, so the Anglos can start to get to know them. So
they can put a face on each other. We did a Cinco de Mayo party;
some of it sounds trivial, but it's not.
"I spoke to one of our police
detectives the other night. A Spanish guy had come up to her and
asked, "What are you doing here? They didn't know what she was
doing; she was in an unmarked car. She said, "This is cool, they're
starting to police themselves."
"One of the reasons I do this
is I don't want to live in a community of rich white people. It's