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Crackdown on barbers brings Latino backlash

Crackdown on unlicensed barbers in Waterbury, Conn., brings backlash from Latino advocates By The Associated Press

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) ' A crackdown on unlicensed barbers in Waterbury, Conn., is stirring a backlash among Latinos, who represent most of the violators.

More established barbers are cheering the hard line taken by Mayor Neil O'Leary, who announced this week that unlicensed shops may be forced to close.

But some Latino advocates say the licensing system is unnecessarily complex and biased against Hispanics because the exam is not available in Spanish as it is in surrounding states.

Of the 120 barber shops in Waterbury, the mayor says 20 are unlicensed or employ unlicensed barbers, and 16 of those are run by Latinos. City officials say they directed those barbers more than a year ago to secure state-mandated licenses, and barbers who are not at least in the process of obtaining certification will be asked to leave.

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