New Hate Crimes against Latinos

The Southern Poverty Law Center just published a comment on the increase in racially motivated crimes by non-Latinos against Latinos

Here is a sampling of these racist attacks:

Early last Saturday in Baltimore, Martin Rayez, 51, was beaten to death with a piece of wood. The man arrested for the crime, Jermaine Holley, 19, allegedly confessed and told police that he “hated Hispanics.” He has been treated in the past for schizophrenia. The killing occurred in East Baltimore, the scene of other recent attacks on Latinos. . . . In June, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Phoenix said that the murder of a Mexican-American man a month earlier was a hate crime. Gary Thomas Kelley is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Juan Varela. He also is charged with menacing Varela’s brother with a gun. “Hurry up and go back to Mexico or you’re gonna die,” Kelley shouted at Varela before shooting him in the neck, police said. The dead man was a third-generation, native-born American.

There have also been 11 attacks on Latinos on Staten Island just since April.

The SPLC attributes some of these violent attacks to the hostile climate created by U.S. political officials:

Two of the most outrageous recent examples: Texas Republican Congressmen Louie Gohmert and Debbie Riddle both claimed that pregnant terrorists plan to sneak into America to give birth to future terrorists who will automatically become U.S. citizens and eventually “help destroy our way of life,” as Gohmert put it. Both representatives claimed that former FBI officials divulged the terrorist baby threat to them.

Given that undocumented immigration has declined in recent months, this upsurge in the hostile racial climate, fed by actions such as those of leading Republican officials in Arizona, seems to be intentional. Anti-brown-immigrants seem part of an old right-wing framing of U.S. racial matters.

The human rights report to the United Nations that I mentioned yesterday does not even discuss the thousands of these racially and ethnically motivated crimes that the U.S. has seen in the last decade, including these against Latinos–although it does mention the new hate crimes law and has a brief sentence on anti-gay crimes. The human rights report also has rather general and skewed language on official attacks such as racial profiling:

The United States recognizes that racial or ethnic profiling is not effective law enforcement and is not consistent with our commitment to fairness in our justice system. For many years, concerns about racial profiling arose mainly in the context of motor vehicle or street stops related to enforcement of drug or immigration laws. Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the debate has also included an examination of law enforcement conduct in the context of the country’s effort to combat terrorism. Citizens and civil society have advocated forcefully that efforts by law enforcement to prevent future terrorist attacks must be consistent with the government’s goal to end racial and ethnic profiling.

Even racial profiling is not discussed in its problematic details, with data, but is tied to outside terrorist attacks. There is also no mention in the report of the internal terrorism against thousands of Americans of color.


  1. Maria


    These racially and ethnically motivated acts of terror by whites against Latinos isn’t surprising considering the deep anti-Latino, anti-immigrant climate we are living in today (again!). I left California in 1995, during the height of Prop. 187, but before I did violent crimes against Latinos were up in Chico. One Latino was beaten almost to death while going to Safeway to buy milk. The man who beat him got caught only because he was arrogant enough to brag about it at the gym that night and someone turned him in.

    This kind of hate towards others makes no sense to me. It makes no sense to me that people continue to believe that because someone is different they aren’t as human. It makes no sense that our community leaders–be they local, state, or national don’t make ending this a stronger priority. It makes no sense to make people suffer because of America’s vacillating on immigration policy over the decades.

    I wish I knew what we could do to stop this. Can you imagine what a wonderful country and world this would be if we accepted each other and worked together to fix our problems rather than blaming one another to the point of violence.

    • No1KState

      Not surprising. Just sad. Sad for the families of the victims as well as the country. Sad for my fellow citizens who must be living with some measure of terror.

      But like you said, this type of hatred isn’t surprising or new.

      That does sound like a wonderful world. Though, one thing “we’d” have to do is acknowledge our problems.

  2. Maria

    Dear No1KState,

    You make a great point. Without acknowledgment and focus on where the problems lie it is always easier to blame the most vulnerable instead. So, even folks who aren’t committing hate, which are very serious, start to believe that the denial of American nationality to people who are actually born here is somehow reasonable or justified.

    These are toxic times. This kind of violence will eventually backfire. People will only be bullied for so long. Then where does that leave us all.

    I hope this all stops fast.

  3. ThirtyNine4Ever

    See, the whole county is messed up, pretending that racism is relegated to one area or state (I’m from Arizona) seems to be the white liberal way of making themselves feel better. They like to say how racist Arizona is, ignoring the fact that the racist attitude that sprouted the law in AZ is in no way unique to AZ. The whole country has a racism problem, not just one state.

  4. DJohnson

    This sort of highlights the problem with hate crime laws generally. If you’re mad enough to kill somebody, presumably you’re made enough to call him bad names, too. Even racially insensitive ones! By your way of thinking, I’d expect every white-on-black murder to qualify as a hate crime. (It doesn’t work the other way, did you know?)

    Maybe we should just agree that the actual murder is the real problem here.


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