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Medical Examiner Will Stop Classifying Latinos As Whites

By Kate Shepherd in News on Sep 11, 2015 5:04PM

Seal of Cook County, IL Carpet [juggernautco]

The Cook County Medical Examiner's office will now stop classifying Latinos as whites and designate them as Latinos in its annual reports and data pulls, after a push for change by Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin.

"Information that identifies deceased as Latinos will be collected through family members and funeral homes or, as needed, through the state's Vital Records system," Frank Shuftan, a spokesman for Cook County Medical Examiner said in an email. "This classification will become part of annual reports and through data pulls as requested."

Just a few weeks ago, Boykin was reviewing statistics he requested on gunshot deaths in Cook County and was stunned to discover that the Medical Examiner's office did not have a separate classification for people of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin, he said in a statement.

"People see things as black and white, I guess; as opposed to seeing things, and seeing people for who they are, and honoring their rich legacy and history. I was outraged that Latinos didn't have a designation," he told CBS in August.

He campaigned for the change alongside Latino community leaders and presented a resolution calling for an immediate change at the Sept. 9 Board of Commissioners meeting.

Cook County Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Cina heard the appeal and "swiftly acknowledged the lack of clarity in how his office chronicles death data," Boykin said in a statement.

About a quarter of Cook County residents are Latino.