Assistant Special Agent in Charge,
Newark Division, F.B.I.
David Velázquez was born in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn to Puerto Rican parents. In the fifth grade, Mr. Velázquez was selected for inclusion in the Robert F. Kennedy Incentive Program for academically gifted minority children. Mr. Velázquez went on to study Political Science at Columbia University. After an encounter with an armed robber, he decided to pursue a career in law enforcement. Upon graduating from Columbia, he joined the F.B.I., where he first worked as a translator until he was old enough to become a Special Agent at age 23. Throughout his 30 year career, Mr. Velázquez has been assigned to field offices in Texas, Puerto Rico, and New York before becoming the Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the Newark Division of the F.B.I., and worked on many notable cases, including supervising the case against John Gotti, Jr. Mr. Velázquez has also successfully worked within the F.B.I. to increase its diversity by advocating for the inclusion and advancement of Latinos and other minority groups.
Prepared by Elizabeth Parker, Associate Archivist.
Hear David Velázquez discuss the discrimination he experienced in the F.B.I. against Latinos, and the law suit he and others filed in response, which improved conditions at the FBI for both Latinos and its many other employees:
“Very early on in my career, in fact, I was a member of one of the… largest discrimination law suits against the F.B.I. [It was filed by] Hispanic Agents during the ’80s, because the [F.B.I.] leadership at that time only wanted us for one thing: they wanted us… to work just drug cases, and cases that only involved Spanish speaking elements. We’d never get the opportunity to rise in the ranks because we were pigeon–holed into one role. So, we fought that discrimination, and there were a lot of knuckle–heads in the Agency at the time who thought that only white men could hold leadership positions; and we fought against that, and we won in court. I think we changed the F.B.I. for the better, for everybody. We leveled the playing field for everyone, not just [for] Hispanics, but [for] whites, blacks, and women. So that was important to me, and… that’s why my life has, I think, [been] [a] sort of symbolic… attempt at social justice. Not only in the community we serve, but also within the organization that I’m a part of. Now, we sued the F.B.I., we won, not because we wanted to destroy the F.B.I., [but because] we wanted to make it better, because in the end we all love the F.B.I.”
Text edited for clarity. For a full verbatim transcript of the quote, please see p. 33-34 of the complete interview transcript.
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