Nationwide, Latinos targeted in hate crimes



There's a glaring contradiction in the news this week. As we honored the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his work in the civil rights movement, an article on the Huffington Post brings to light one of the biggest civil rights issues of our time;

In recent years, hate crimes against Latinos have increased by 52 percent, a steep rise that Alternet's Arun Gupta attributes to incessant "right-wing vituperation" and "caustic rhetoric." In Arizona, where anti-immigrant sentiment has fomented into a bevy of retrogressive and prejudicial state policies, the number of reported hate crimes rose from 161 in 2007 to 219 in 2009. Tellingly, the recent rise in anti-Latino hate crimes runs counter to an overall decrease in reported hate crimes nationwide...

a dramatic spike in the use of the word "illegals" in television programming last year coincided with both the passage of Arizona's SB 1070 and a number of subsequent racially motivated murders:

  • In June, Juan Varela--U.S. citizen and a third-genderation Mexican American--was shot to death in Phoenix by a man shouting "You fucking Mexican, go back to Mexico!"
  • In July, Sergio Zapata-Zurita's family was accosted at gunpoint in Washington by a man apparently obsessed with "illegal immigration.

  • In August, Martin Reyes--a Honduran immigrant and father of six--was stabbed to death in Baltimore by a crazed man who told police that he "hated Mexicans."
  • Although Arizona has become notorious for its legislation on immigration, it’s hardly the only state to experience such violence. The FBI counted 79 race- and ethnicity-related hate crimes in North Carolina in 2009.

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