Interviewed by Barbara Tabach. Monserrath Hernández and Maribel Estrada Calderón also participate in the questioning. Born in Mexico, came to live in Las Vegas in 1985. Graduate of UNLV in Journalism and a reporter of Public Safety for the Las Vegas Sun. Ricardo covered the 1 October shooting, the killing of two police officers and other traumatic news of the community.
Torres-Cortez, Ricardo Interview, 2019 May 7. OH-03608. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada. http://n2t.net/ark:/62930/d13b6022c
Standardized Rights Statement
i AN INTERVIEW WITH RICARDO TORRES-CORTEZ An Oral History Conducted by Monserrath Hernández & Maribel Estrada Calderón Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2018 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcribers: Kristin Hicks, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Nathalie Martinez, Rodrigo Vazquez, Elsa Lopez Editors and Project Assistants: Laurents Bañuelos-Benitez, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Monserrath Hernández, Elsa Lopez, Nathalie Martinez, Marcela Rodriquez-Campo, Rodrigo Vazquez iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews with permission of the narrator. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas iv PREFACE In a time where journalism continues to be politicized and journalists constantly face accusations of reporting fake news or pushing a hidden agenda, it is becoming increasingly discouraging for aspiring journalists to join the profession. Yet, despite this, there are journalists like Ricardo Torres-Cortez whose professional mission is not to infuse his opinions into his stories, but instead strive to present just the facts, allowing readers to decide for themselves. Born in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, Torres spent most of his childhood living in cities along the border—Juárez, Tijuana, and El Paso, Texas. When Torres was eighteen, his mother moved their family from El Paso to Las Vegas where he completed his education, played in a band, and began his career as a journalist. As an award-winning journalist, Torres has worked for both the Las Vegas Review Journal and the Las Vegas Sun. During his journalism career, he has covered breaking news, crime stories and major Las Vegas events including the 1 October mass shooting. As one of the few Latino journalists in the newsroom, Torres endeavors to represent his community in a more robust and complex manner that he feels is not normally seen in traditional media coverage of Latinos. v TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with Ricardo Torres-Cortez May 7, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Monserrath Hernández and Maribel Estrada Calderón Preface…………………………………………………………………………………………..iv Describes his family’s journey from Ciudad Juárez to Las Vegas; Speaks about the Mexican border in the early 90’s; Describes his neighborhood around Valley High School; Recalls being part of a local band; Shares why he studied journalism……………………………….………………...1-5 Describes his mother and father; Explains the difference between El Paso, Texas and Juáarez; Explains family traditions including Dia de Los Muteros; Speaks about his first stories as a journalist at the Las Vegas Review Journal; Recalls covering a police shooting at Cici’s Pizza; Describes the differences between working at the Review Journal and Las Vegas Sun….…6-11 Speaks on the benefits of being a bilingual reporter; Elaborates on musical background; Talks about the story editing process in journalism; Describes his dream interviews; Explains how he met his circle of friends; Explains how conflict of interest impacts his writing; speaks on what graduation from UNLV meant for him and his family……………………….…………….12-17 Describes the his professional awards; Speaks about his mom’s food truck business; Explains the difference between genuine Mexican food and border food; Talks about the lack of Latinos in journalism in the United States; Speaks about his hobbies; Describes his experience as a translator for his mother…………………………………………………………………….………….18-24 Elaborates on his passion for futbol; Explains the impact social media platforms have on journalism; Speaks on the current status of newspaper industry; Explains how he navigates accusations of fake news; Describes his experiences during 1 October; describes the scene he witnessed on 1 October; Talks about Officer Charleston Hartfield; Elaborates on local press coverage vs national press conference of 1 October………………………………………..25-33 Talks about the conspiracy theories surrounding 1 October; Speaks about covering Officer Charleston Hartfield’s memorial; Explains how 1 October has affected his behavior in crowds; Shares his thoughts about the Latino community; Describes how he manages to keep his opinions out of his professional writing……………………………………………………………….34-40 vi vii 1 Today is May seventh, 2019. This is Barbara Tabach and sitting in the room with me today are… Monserrath Hernandez. Maribel Estrada Calderon. And our narrator today, Ricardo. Ricardo Torres-Cortez; R-I-C-A-R-D-O, T-O-R-R-E-S, hyphen, C-O-R-T-E-Z. Thank you. We like to start with a little bit about your background, your family background, your heritage. Can you talk to us about that? I was born in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, in Mexico, in 1985, September tenth. I lived there for a year. Then my mother moved my sister and I to Tijuana for three years. Then we crossed over to El Paso, Texas, and lived there until I was eighteen. I moved to Las Vegas the semester before graduating, because of financial circumstances, and then I’ve been here since; I’m thirty-three now, so fifteen years. Almost a native. Yes, definitely. I thought I would be here two years max and, I don’t know, I just don’t see myself leaving. Why? I don’t know. It’s a good town at first. When I got here I felt like there was no community; I’m not very social, so I don’t know where I was expecting to find it. I’m like, there’s no culture; there’s no community. That just changed as I grew older, I think. That’s great. I think all of us do that. I always describe myself as a reluctant resident, and that was twenty-five years ago almost now. It’s a great community. Talk about your family’s immigration story—what can you tell us about that? 2 Back in the day, early nineties, it was easy to cross over. I’m not sure exactly when the first time I came was, but we crossed over a lot. Back then at the border, at the checkpoint, it was just as easy as learning to say American citizen, sir, and they’ll let you through. A lot of times my mom would—I don’t know if it was her—but a few times we just kind of walked over. There is a park and we would just walk over. It wasn’t harsh or hard. I don’t remember it being a difficulty, I guess until I got to school and there was always a fear of, oh, are they going to ask for documentation now? when you register, but that never happened. Were you aware of that as a child that you needed… Yes, early on, maybe not pre-K and kinder, but later on it was always a small fear. Then my mom married a U.S. citizen. I must have been nine or so. Then documents were placed and that took a few years, but I don’t remember exactly how many. Yes, it was a fear when I was younger, but not too harsh. It was just kind of in the back of your head, like, oh, am I going to be able to go to school? What was it like to live in El Paso? It was great. It was like little Mexico. You feel like the majority of people speak Spanish. It’s mostly Hispanic. There are a lot of Juárez immigrants who opened their businesses there. It is like a cleaner Mexico, I think. It has grown exponentially since. It is a quiet, quiet place, friendly place. People are friendly. I think that’s what I didn’t find here initially, just the friendliness of the people. MONSERRATH: How do you identify yourself? As in… Do you identify yourself as Mexican American, Latino? Mexican, yes, Mexican or Latino. 3 When you came to Vegas, what neighborhood did you settle in? Near Valley High School, so it was on Karen and Maryland Parkway-ish. I was eighteen at the time and my mom was renting a room at the back of my aunt’s house and lived there for a while. When my mom moved here, it was a real struggle. In Texas she kind of signed me over for six months before I turned eighteen. I was trying to finish school; it must have been junior year. At first I was supposed to stay with family junior year to finish off the year. An uncle just kicked me out three weeks later. He didn’t want to help. Then I stayed with my sister to finish junior year. I was trying to get the scholarship over there and I needed to graduate over there, the standard ten thousand, Millennium Scholarship I think. We made a deal to stay at a friend’s house and my mom kind of signed me over to his dad until the time I turned eighteen, so six months or so, and that didn’t last either. I stayed there a semester and I ended up moving here. My mom was an on-call housekeeper, no money, so she was staying at this room behind my aunt’s house. I stayed there a couple of years. I forgot what the question was. What was that neighborhood like, the Valley neighborhood? It was ghetto, I guess. It was unlike anything I’ve experienced. In Texas I lived in probably a nicer part of town, not super nice, but I had never seen that kind of gang activity until I moved to Vegas. At Valley High School I remember friending one or two people and one of them was talking about how he did methamphetamine. I never even knew what that was. It was a culture shock. The fights, a couple of times there were fights in between periods, brawls. I’m like, okay, I’m not used to this. Has that neighborhood changed since you lived there? 4 I think it’s gotten worse, but I haven’t been back. I cover some crime and I know there’s been some crime there, but I’m not sure about the change in the positive or negative way. I just don’t really drive through there. Where did you go to college? I went to College of Southern Nevada. After graduating high school in 2004, maybe 2005-2006 I went to CSN. It was just a couple of classes. I took English and piano. Then I went over for the next semester and took English, but I wasn’t used to an early class and I missed the first couple. Then my mom had surgery or something where she was sick, and I used that as an excuse to leave college and didn’t return until I came to CSN and UNLV maybe eight years ago to study journalism. Before that I was in a band, so I thought that would be my career. Talk about that a little bit. You mentioned you studied piano from (8:05) at CSN. What kind of band? It was rock, alternative rock. I’m a drummer. My family is musicians, so I was a drummer when I moved here. I was in a really bad band early when I was eighteen, nineteen. When I was twenty I met up with a couple of guys from Arizona who moved here and they wanted to start a band. They were like, “Oh, we want to move to Japan,” so they kind of got that rolling. A local guitarist, myself, and those two guys from Arizona started a band. That went on for a few years, five, six years. Did you have a name and a following? Yes. We were named Searchlight, Harry Reid’s city. I was twenty because I remember playing our first show and I was escorted out of the bar after, so I had to be secluded from the…They let me go in to play, but since I was twenty they kind of kicked me out after. Okay, because you were under age. You could perform, but you couldn’t hang out there. 5 Yes. So I must have been twenty or so. We thought that would be it. Oh, my passion and my dream. I did that for a few years. We did a couple of things, but it never really materialized. I think we started out big with opportunities and then we lost motivation—I lost motivation. A couple of the guys lost motivation and drive. When we realized that you have to start from the bottom and you have to pay your dues, it was maybe a little too much because why do we need to do that since we already did cool things? It was kind of a conflict. I got really depressed. Actually, my mom, I was still living with her and I was twenty-five. Her theory in life is if you don’t figure out what you’re going to do by the time you’re twenty-five, you’ll never figure it out. I went in to study journalism. Media was always something I liked, but it wasn’t my initial passion at all. MONSERRATH: Why journalism? I remember it was always kind of traumatizing; I would, in a masochist way, would watch news when big tragedies happened, like plane crashes, September eleven. I remember the Oklahoma City bombing. I just stayed glued to Jorge Ramos and Univision. I was kind of addicted to wanting to know a little more. I’ve always been like that. Getting into journalism was a way to grasp onto a little bit of controlling your life where I’m not just a crazy person watching these horrible things, but I could try to explain it now as opposed to just being traumatized by it. That’s interesting. Jorge Ramos, talk about him and how you’re watching him. Was he a role model for you? He was always kind of there, not like a role model. I never wanted to be a TV person. I don’t know what I wanted to be actually. I just loved journalism. But I never say him as, oh, I want to be him. My mom doesn’t read much. She didn’t learn how to read until way later. But she’s read his books, so she would always talk about Jorge Ramos. He is just kind of like a staple in the 6 community where so many years he’s been there on TV. He is this voice of news. I think he’s taken more of an activist role now, but before he was just your standard Mexican Dan Rather or Walter Cronkite. Kind of digging for the story, okay. Yes, when he used to interview dictators and presidents, I always thought that was pretty cool. Talk a little bit about your mom. What was she like when you were growing up? I was always close to my mom. We moved to El Paso. She had an aunt who owned a hotel. She had money. The whole family lived and worked at the hotel, so it was weird. My mom was like the head of housekeeping, so she worked a lot. I remember I was always just kind of roaming around the hotel. She worked a lot, but I always remember her taking me to pre-K and kindergarten, walking me there and going to K-Mart—that still exists—to get a Slurpee and a slice of pizza; I remember that. She was always very loving and very protective. When I got older she got older and she was always kind of mean, not mean, but as “you better not step out of line.” She was always stern. Typical Mexican mom. Yes, yes. She was strict; she gave you rules to follow. Yes. It wasn’t rules like “don’t go out.” I was not very social. She was like, “You should go out.” But you better clean if she told you to clean, or you can’t be like, “Aye, Mom,” because then you’d probably get hit. I remember getting hit maybe a couple of times, but that was enough for me to kind of be… Mande instead of ¿qué? 7 Yes, yes. I would never talk to her as tu; it was always like usted, still. It just kind of emitted this respect. My sister was more of a rebel; she’s five years older than me. Yes, my mom always worked. She must have worked so many low-low paying jobs. She got married and she still worked. She liked being independent. Her marriage didn’t work out because she didn’t want to be the stay-at-home and not do anything or boss me around. You can’t boss her around. I lived with her until a year ago on and off. After fifty she kind of toned down; she took life in another way, so she’s really positive now. She was kind of resentful before, like cursing or whatever. I did get a little bit of that from her. She is very loving, but very strict, if that makes sense. Was she glad that she brought you and your sister to the United States? Oh, definitely. My father, who lives in Juárez—like I said, we had an aunt with money. I guess it’s called anchor babies now. Back then you could go over to the U.S. and stay at this clinic. Her aunt offered to pay for that. Hey, you should go to El Paso, so just in case you ever end up moving, they’re U.S. citizens. My father was prideful. He was like, “No, I was born poor.” He never wanted to get ahead, but he didn’t want us to have the opportunity to maybe be U.S. citizens or dual citizenship. We ended up being born in Mexico. My mom was very strong. Her mom died at a young age and she grew up fast. There are a bunch of stories about her and her youth. She definitely doesn’t regret that [bringing us to the U.S.] and marrying. She met a guy that I don’t think she loved and she told him, “I don’t love you.” He was like, “You’ll love me one day. I want to get your kids residency or papers.” She sacrificed a lot. I think she probably considers that a good… Were you aware of that story? Did you find friends or people your age that that was a common story? Did you talk about it? I’m really naïve when it comes to that. 8 No, we didn’t really talk about it. I had a lot of friends. But when I went to school, there was a lot of Juárez kids that either moved here or they would live in Juárez and go to school in El Paso. It was never really something ever discussed. You didn’t discuss your Mexican heritage. I call El Paso Little Mexico, so you didn’t have to discuss it; you just lived it. MARIBEL: Can you tell me more about growing up in the border lands; what it’s like to deal with two cultures, two languages? Like I said, the cultures are a little different, especially with the Caucasian population. They’re really friendly, by the way, in El Paso. Juárez is poor. You go over to visit family and it was always like—my grandma still lives in colonia where it’s just hills or mountains of dirt roads, and you’re driving up. It was kind of like a weekend thing. It was very, very different, of course. You didn’t have amenities. My mom would take us over to Juárez for the summer for a couple of weeks so that my dad could see us and we would stay at his mom’s house. He never really saw us. When you were younger you preferred being in El Paso with amenities and paved roads. Juárez is lovely; it’s just… MONSERRATH: Any favorite family traditions when you were growing up? No. We steered clear of a lot of family. My mom tried a lot with her brothers and it was always drama, so she kind of secluded us from her family. We still visited our dad. But not really. There were birthday parties. My sister and I were both born in September and she would throw us birthday parties so all our family could come. It ended up being that she would buy food and alcohol and people would be cheap. It just kind of turned into an adult party and they didn’t take gifts. My mom would really try, but no real traditions. I guess later on, Día de los Muertos is a big one that is still observed, but no big Christmas gatherings or anything. What do you do for Día de los Muertos? 9 I do an altar for my mom’s mom. I have her picture and just add to it. Last year was the first one I didn’t do with my mom; she moved, but I still set up something: fruit, flowers and bread, candles, just a little shrine on the floor. It was cool, colorful. Going back to journalism, what was your first gig or your first story that you published? First story I wrote was at CSN; it was about the planetarium; that was my first or second. It was a website; it wasn’t even a newspaper at that time. Those were my first stories, at CSN. Then when I came to UNLV, I worked for what used to be called Virtual Rebel, so it wasn’t even a newspaper, either, just an online thing. It was just stories like that. Before I came to UNLV, I published something at Desert Companion, just freelance on bookstores and bookstore owners that have a little community; they share books. If they don’t have a book, they’ll call their friends and other business owners and get that book for them. I remember writing like fifteen hundred words and thought it was good. They paid for word. Then it got edited down to three hundred and half of them weren’t my words. I’m like, all right. It didn’t really feel like my story at all. I did CSN, Desert Companion, UNLV, Virtual Rebel, and then I worked as a long-term intern at the Las Vegas Review-Journal until I graduated in December of 2015. What did you do at the R-J? Crime. You do breaking news and cops. It’s just like fatal crashes or homicide. They have full-time crime reporters, but you just pick up the first. There is a lot of traffic, like, hey, this shoulder is closed. I don’t really like that type of journalism. The editor would be like, “Can you check why there is so much traffic on the 95?” And then you’re like, “I’m not calling in at NHP at six, seven a.m.” But, yes, a lot of throwaway stories. I picked up a couple stories when the crime reporters were busy and had a chance to expound on some of the crime coverage and talk to 10 families. I remember I was new and two officer were shot at Cicis Pizza and I happened to cover a lot of that that day. That was the first big story. That’s a significant story. Yes. It was the only time I cried or had to go collect myself because it was just too much for me. I came into the office and was really doing nothing and getting yelled at by an editor. I think somebody had a tip that they were raiding an apartment complex and we were the only ones that knew it. The reporter couldn’t go, and so they sent me over. I talked to all the neighbors of the shooters before the FBI blocked it off. We reported on it and all the sudden the FBI blocked everything off, so we had some information that day. You were in the vicinity of the shooting before— No, not the shooting, but where the shooters lived and it was being raided. That was a little too much that day. What about it made you cry? I don’t know. Just overwhelmed. Two officers getting pretty much executed for political reasons, nonsense. You were talking to their families? No. That was still the first day. I had to go collect myself. Wow. Well, the police officers still talk about that. That’s horrific. Yes. It made me kind of understand their career a little bit more, not relate to them because, obviously, I’m not a cop. It kind of helps you see multiple sides of the spectrum. I feel like everything is politicized now. What was the hardest part of being an intern at the R-J? 11 Not getting the job. Interns usually before me would get full-time positions when they opened up. I think cops or crime at the beginning—I love it now. I never thought I would like it. People would leave and people kept getting jobs. Then I kept asking, “Hey, am I being considered?” Then the social service beat opened up where I knew Spanish was required. I don’t think they have any Spanish speakers over there, maybe one reporter. I was like, “Hey, can I get this job?” Finally they were like, “You’re just not a good writer.” I was like, “All right.” I graduated and applied at the Las Vegas Sun and I got a job. But, yes, not really knowing what would happen after graduation; that was probably the hardest, career-wise. How many hours were you doing? It was part-time, like thirty-two, close to forty. I was kind of teetering on full-time, working for very little money. Being full-time you get benefits and pay bump. It’s the kind of position you don’t want to be known as an intern because you’re a graduate already. I did it eighteen months. When you went to the Sun, what was different from the R-J? It’s smaller. Our staff, our newsroom is pretty small. I still do breaking news and I like it. I can kind of choose what I want to do a lot of times. I kind of have this freedom. At the Review-Journal you had interns and a hierarchy where if you’re an intern and you want to work on something, you had to ask a line of reporters. Even if they weren’t interested in doing it, they were kind of possessive over it, like, why do you want to do this? At the Sun, since we have more limited staff, I can pick and choose what I want. I kind of have autonomy over if what crime happens and I don’t have to share the work with anybody, which is tiring, but it’s cool. I like the autonomy and it’s smaller. I have no real cubicles. Were you at the R-J when Adelson took over? Yes. Right at the cutoff. 12 Did you experience both? The first sale to GateHouse, I was there for that first sale. Then there were grumblings that Adelson was buying it, and I was like, great, he has money; maybe I’ll get a position. But then I didn’t. It wasn’t that way for a lot of folks, was it? Yes, yes. Yes. But I wasn’t like—I don’t know. A lot of journalists take to having personas online where they’re so—like Twitter, they just have these personas of holier than thou that I really dislike. Like, the enemy, we need to fight because our jobs are in danger, or, the president calls us names. When in reality you don’t report in Mexico; literally, like Iraq or the Middle East you could lose your life, so calm down. Most of the danger to your career is the business decisions that have been made, not the president. MARIBEL: You mentioned that the R-J does not have and Spanish-speaking reporters and journalists. What is it like to be a Latino and bilingual journalist? It’s cool. You get a lot more access to some of the people who obviously don’t speak English that you go out to interview neighbors who you could just address in Spanish and they’ll open up. Only-English-speaking reporters, they can’t relate to them. There is a reporter who knows how to speak Spanish who I used to work with and I think he just doesn’t have the cultural background to maybe approach and relate to the people. MONSERRATH: When you’re interviewing someone in Spanish, what is the first thing you say to them to make them feel comfortable to share with you? I don’t treat them much different. I will just approach them—sometimes you have to read them. Oh, they might speak Spanish. They might speak both languages, but you’ll just approach them in Spanish and hope they’re not Filipino. But, yes, in general I’m bad at approaching people. I 13 get anxiety. I could go out on an interview, and before I would write down ten questions I wanted to ask and try to read them. Now if I’m approaching random people, it’s kind of hard and it gives me anxiety. MARIBEL: What part of your job do you feel most comfortable with? Writing. But, yes, I know you have to tell people stories. When it’s a set up interview, I’m more comfortable with having a conversation. But if I have to approach people, it’s that fear of rejection, I think, like, oh, they might me tell me to go screw yourself or something. You mentioned that your family from your mom’s side, their musicians, and so you’ve always been playing different instruments. Have you always been writing as well? No. No, I didn’t start until school. When I got to school, I loved journalism. I think the World Cup had just happened, and I was like, I want to do that and be on TV or be a writer. But I just didn’t know anything. It wasn’t until I joined school that I learned how to write. But drums, it was my dad’s side; all of them played drums. I have musicians on my mom’s side, too. What kind of music do they play? Just Mexican. They do covers at parties, like cumbias and stuff. Then I have family that plays at church and just has instruments. MONSERRATH: You mentioned earlier that sometimes your stories are edited down so much that it doesn’t even feel like your story anymore. Can you talk more about that and journalism as a profession where journalists have to go through so much editing and sometimes it doesn’t seem like their story anymore? That happens at Desert Companion and at CSN that they’d be changed, but at least at CSN the professor was there with you telling you what needed to change. It was a little harder at the 14 Review-Journal. You’re just an intern of a bigger story and the editor seems angry kind of rewriting everything. Then you get the story back and, I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel like it’s yours. I feel dirty claiming, oh, I wrote this, when in reality it was just a lot of editing. At the Sun it is a little better. A lot of my stories just get cleaned up and it’s not a lot of changes, which I hope it speaks to my writing where it doesn’t need a lot of changes. But, yes, it’s kind of disheartening when your stories are edited down. You also have to have a thick skin. You can’t be angry; you could feel it, but you can’t be like, oh, why would you do this? Because they know better. The more words you wrote that are in the story, the better you feel about it. What would be your ideal story to cover? Any event or any person that you would love to interview? What would be your ideal story that you write? I don’t know. It’s breaking news; I like the unexpected. If it’s something tragic, obviously it’s tragic and sad, but there is a rush to it. A lot of my stories aren’t planned; they just kind of happen. I’m writing one on opioids now and it’s just taking so long that I kind of lost passion for it. There is this nice lady who is a clergy at one of the jails; I kind of want to know her story, but I haven’t talked to her. Yes, it’s just kind of day by day. There is not a figure I’d like to interview. I always wanted to interview “El Chapo” when he was not in jail. I thought that would be a dream come true. I don’t know how I would do that obviously. I wouldn’t ask him. What would you ask him? Before he was arrested and tried to—I don’t know what he tried to do. He is just kind of this enigma where you’re like, how did you come to be? Who hurt you? 15 MARIBEL: When you arrived here you said that you thought Las Vegas had no culture and that you couldn’t find a community or a sense of belonging. How did you find it, or have you found it yet? I have. I’m not very social, but I have different groups of friends. I think I act different among different groups of friends. There are the bougie reporters; they like to go out a lot. I don’t like to go out a lot, but I interact with them out in public. Then there are my Mexican friends who I’ve met playing soccer maybe eight years ago, and it’s a more tight-knit group and you feel more open to be yourself. You don’t have to watch what you’re saying. MONSERRATH: Do you still play? I try to, Saturdays. Where? What park? I think it’s Buckskin Park, Gowan and Tenaya. We’re playing in a team there, but I think the team got canceled this week. Yes, I try to play. It started 2011. I don’t know how it started, but I ended up meeting these Mexicans guys and they are very friendly and a few of them have been my friends since. One of them was actually shot; police killed him. Later on, it seemed justifiable, but that was kind of—if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have met everyone else. Explain that if you don’t mind. It was domestic violence and there’s video. He didn’t look like himself in the video. I don’t know what went through his head. They went to his apartment and his wife had told them, “There is no one in there,” because he was hiding and I don’t know what he had done to her, so she must have been scared. The cops went in there. It was dark. They opened the closet and he came out with a knife. But if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have met the friends I have now. Did you interview his group of friends, or how did you… 16 No. I had to take myself out of the story. Metro shows video like three days later. The night before I got a call, “Hey, he died.” I’m like, “Oh, I’m covering that tomorrow.” I still went to cover it, but I didn’t write anything; they wouldn’t allow me because it was a conflict of interest. Too personal. Yes. How often does that happen? People you know dying? The conflict of interest as a reporter in today’s Las Vegas community. There is an event on Thursday, kind of a rally to drum up leads for this case. I’m going to ask if I can cover it because it’s not policy-wise where you have multiple sides; it’s a family whose son died and the guy was on my soccer team, so I know him. A lot of times when it’s something like that, as long as you let an editor k