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Hector Jordan - Trail-blazing Hispanic Hero

By       Message Michael Leon       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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Aurora, Illinois --Amid the national mobilization of Mexican-Americans asserting their humanity, a Mexican-American hero was recognized today.

Officer Hector Jordan was honored today by the City of Aurora and the Aurora Police Department by the naming of a street, Hector Jordan Way, at a ceremony attended by some 120 people.

Jordan was the first Hispanic cop in the Aurora Police Department and was an acclaimed undercover federal narcotics officer for the precursor of today 's Drug Enforcement Agency.

At six-foot, three inches, well-muscled, and intense, Hector "Bobby " Jordan cut an imposing figure on the Aurora police force in the 1950s.

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But to the 1950s American mind, he had a serious issue --he was a Mexican-American, meaning the bigots didn 't like him.

In fact, in 1955, Jordan faced down bigotry or those who tolerated bigotry, from the top of the police force.

Before assuming duty, Jordan was told then by the powers that be how to behave and act around the "white" citizens he would encounter as the first Mexican-American officer on the force.

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Jordan, angry and insulted, would have none of it, and suggested that the police find someone more "pliable, " telling the powers that be to take him or leave him.

They took him. And Jordan went on to become the Aurora policeman of the year (1964), and rose to the top of his field in a career as an undercover federal narcotics agent (1965-1970) that officers in this dangerous line of work have described as legendary.

"Hector taught me that policing is the noblest of callings. He believed that police officers were the knights in shining armor. That we were the modern-day Don Quixotes. That we were the 'guardians' that Plato talked about. That if we failed to do our job, the democracy would crumble. Hector Jordan believed these beliefs in the depths of his soul," said Michael Nila, Aurora Police Captain (ret.) and Jordan's nephew.

Murdered

On September 20, 1970 outside a going-away party thrown for him as he was set to leave for Madrid, Spain to head an international narcotics team, Jordan was viciously attacked by a gang of thugs who bludgeoned him to death [Jordan lapsed into a coma and died weeks later] simply because Jordan was a cop.

At least they didn 't murder him for being a spic, as Mexican-Americans were approvingly known by white society around Aurora those days, but Jordan pierced through that bigotry like an angry, Latin chain saw cutting up the veil of bigotry that separates us in his own unique way --human kindness, concern and humor, traits he brought with him to his position as a federal narcotics agent.

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Celebrated

"Hector always had a way of getting things juiced up and firing up the [DEA] squad, sometimes somebody 's having a bad day, well, Hector would always be there to do something funny, taping up a desk, hiding car keys, taking someone out to lunch. He was there for everyone. Someone had a problem, or a financial problem, he would always loan him some bucks ...He was constantly the jokester, just having fun, " said John Peoples, former partner and close friend of Hector Jordan, and retired DEA agent.

One time, Peoples recalled, an agent, John Wagner, had an assignment in Turkey, so the agents threw a going-away party and Jordan snuck in a live turkey to the party, a rather loud and aggressive animal when put in an office setting. Another time in downtown Chicago in the late 1960s, an edgy time for the police, at a bar full of some 40 cops, Jordan surreptitiously lit off a firecracker sounding just like gun shots, setting off a frenzied quest of checking for weapons and diving to the floor, to Jordan 's very private amusement.

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Michael Leon is a writer living in Madison, Wisconsin. His writing has appeared nationally in The Progressive, In These Times, and CounterPunch. He can be reached at maleon64@yahoo.com.

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