The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Black-on-Latino Hate Crimes Broil Staten Island

By Alexander Zaitchik on August 3, 2010 - 2:23 pm, Posted in Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Latino

It has been an agonizing summer for Latino residents of Staten Island. Since April, there have been 11 known instances of racially motivated violence against Latinos in the New York City borough, most of it taking place in the economically depressed Mexican-immigrant neighborhood of Port Richmond. This past Saturday, an 18-year-old Mexican immigrant named Christian Vazquez became the latest victim when he was attacked and beaten by three young African-American assailants who yelled anti-Mexican slurs and accused him of belonging to a Mexican gang. (In fact, Vazquez is active in a local group working against bias crime and gang activity, called Eye Openers: Youth Against Violence.) Currently one of the assailants, a 15-year-old Liberian immigrant, is in police custody and facing hate-crime charges of assault, robbery and aggravated harassment.

The most recent attack follows a rising pattern of black-on-Latino bias crime in the borough. In another representative case, on April 25, 46-year-old Rogerio Vazquez (no relation to Christian) suffered lacerations to his head during a slur-laden assault and robbery at the hands of a 19-year-old Asian woman and 21-year-old African-American man.

The rash of attacks in the area has led to the construction of a “police skywatch tower” to better monitor the streets, as well as the involvement of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Mexican Consulate, which have participated in a growing number of community forums on the problem.

But some local community leaders say that much more is needed.

“While the City has dramatically increased police presence in Port Richmond, where many of these attacks have occurred, this surge in police presence fails to address the root causes of this violence,” said Ana Maria Archila, spokeswoman for Make the Road New York, a Latino advocacy group. “We can’t continue to wish discrimination and bias away. New York City must take concrete steps to promote tolerance and expand opportunities for young people.”

The steps proposed by Archila’s and allied groups include more public town halls and hearings; public awareness campaigns about hate crimes and how to anonymously report them; and educational programs for teenagers, who make up a large proportion of the perpetrators.

Though violence between black and Latino populations is generally associated with gang activity in Los Angeles and high school conflicts there and elsewhere in California, the recent events on Staten Island illustrate that the problem is national in scope, especially when the communities border each other and are in direct competition for scarce local jobs. Attacks on Latinos have risen in recent years, as anti-immigrant rhetoric ratcheted up across the country. According to the FBI, anti-Latino violence shot up 40% between 2003 and 2007, dropping back slightly in 2008. The FBI has yet to release hate crime statistics for 2009.

  • Bob

    on CM’s comment earlier

    How much of this story have you seen on MSNBC? Why are they not saying more about this. And yes the SPLC is writing something but WHAT are they doing. Are they helping to prosecute any of this? Filing any civil suits on the latinos behalf?

  • Carmela

    People please forget about government here, its not about that. I think blacks on latinos is more personal. i am a born and raised latina woman from the hood and all i can say is that blacks have used violence on latinos for forever. ive seen it on my uncle, who couldnt even graduate high school back in the 80’s just because he would get beat up by blacks everyday at school, ive seen it used on me, my mom, my brother and my father. thats all i will say

  • Bobby

    There is no such thing as a hate crime. Crime is Crime. I am an American with black skin color and any crime that is committed is a hate crime. No one commits crimes for love.

    This article is hyping the situation up. Blacks are attacked also, there is no coverage like this in the media about them.

    This country bends over backwards for foreigners, and don’t even care about its own people.

    Blacks are always portrayed negatively, wether its whites or Foreigners

  • Crypto

    Ruslan–Of course their citizenship status is Very important. Why wouldn’t it be? If I sneak into your kitchen and burn my hand on your stove, would you pay my medical bills or have me arrested for breaking and entering?
    I cant believe that people still try to say that White gangs are just as destructive and pervasive as black and Hispanic gangs….The KKK? That must be a joke. Do they really even exist? Ive never seen anybody who was in a white gang or a KKK type organization in my entire life. In fact most white people I know do everything they can to help blacks and Hispanics through Non profit organizations and social programs. When you see on the news that a “Neo-Nazi group” is out marching, there is usually 6 guys with nazi flags and 3 thousand violent counter protesters (Like Ohio.)
    Yet, Even when white people aren’t even involved, I still see people saying “It could have just as easily been White Gangs” That, folks, is racism.

    Also-It has nothing to do with wealth. I’m as poor as a person can be and so are all my neighbors. We live in a very poor section of Staten Island and there is ZERO crime here. In fact, I don’t even have to lock my doors. This is because it is all white and we, for the most part, would rather die poor than be criminals. We’ve also been turned down for all the help that minorities get in similar financial situations, yet we still haven’t been turned to crime.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Yeah Dan, when someone commits a crime their immigration status is REAL important, and of course if anyone is a Latino in the US, we must always question their immigration status right? I mean it’s not like there’s millions of US-born Latino citizens or anything.

  • SAenforcer

    GlennSR said, “It’s not a black and white problem” it’s a problem of the “haves & not”. Now why do I get this real strong feeling that had it been poor white ignorant skinheads, attacking these hispanics, it would have been race that caused this not the economy or have and have nots, or Kevin who feels the need to clarify that one of the attackers was just an African, not an African American????????????????
    then he goes on to say ” they could have easily been white perpetrators, or Asian perpetrators, etc”. I’m getting that same strong feeling that had it been them poor white ignorant skinheads, that little sentiment he posted would have never appeared in his blog. La Audace, La Audace, La Audace, liberals always amaze me.

    But then look at where they are on the net, me I’m here out of curiosity. Let me let everyone that wants to read this post know how this Org. is so out of touch with the real world. I am a 25 yr. vet with the San Antonio police dept.
    after 25 years of dealing with black and latino gangs killing each other, such as the grape street watts crips, bloods, latin kings, ms-13, mexican mafia, I went to their map to see how many of these gangs that kill each other based largely in part by their race, and I see San Antonio Tx is on their map, so I click on it, and they list the Ku Klux Klan. It has taken me almost 5 minutes to recover from my laughter. As god as my witness may he strike me dead if I am lying to you, but in 25 years of working in every part of this city, I have never taken a report of a KKK member committing a crime, of the KKK having any rally, hell I didn’t even know the KKK was so active here in San Antonio that it would rate being on a national groups map.
    Had I not gone to that map I would have never known that we had a KKK charter here, so aahh thanx SPLC for warning me about the possible problems that may occur with that ancient relic…I’m sorry, but you people are really lost, at least here in San Antonio, and the hate group you list for San Antonio? No it’s not the Mexican Mafia, the Latin Kings, the black disciples, it’s a group that as a street cop I have never seen, nor even heard of any acts of violence being committed with them as the suspects, and didn’t even know they existed here. Don’t get me wrong, I have no love for the KKK, I think the group nationally is made up of poor white trash, they are just not active here in San Antonio like your map says they are, so please update the information you disseminate, it really does make a difference.

  • Dan

    By the way, are any of these Latino’s illegals ?

  • Kevin

    I really feel for the Latino folks on Staten Island, regardless of whether they are immigrants or not. There can be so much fear instilled in a community when a hate crime occurs, let alone the spate of hate crimes Staten Island has seen (and in all but one of these, the victims were Latino immigrants). I’m guessing some people there are pretty frightened.

    It really doesn’t matter the race of the perpetrators in these crimes; racism is racism, and racism is wrong. It appears that on Staten Island this summer most of the perpetrators are black (one of those black men accused is not African-American, he is from Africa). But, they could have easily been white perpetrators, or Asian perpetrators, etc.

    Here’s hoping the Staten Island Borough President retracts his earlier declaration that these attacks on Staten Island are not race-based hate crimes. The worst way to deal with a hate crime–or a spate of them–is to deny what they are.

  • Sheila

    I am a Black woman,with an American Indian and White background as most of us do(even some asian in the family), once married to an Egyptian,I have two half Puerto Rican nephews i love to death and a prior boss that’s one, love him too, my brother twice married to latina women one in Florida,one in New York. my son having had relationships with Puerto Rican, Mexican,Domincian and Cuban women. they love that spicy flava you should see what our holiday gatherings look like ,the united nations,So don’t believe the Hype that there is a BIG PROBLEM as it is with ‘SOME’ whites, i say some, that don’t like us all, but it is all ignoreance and economics as Glenn Sr. said. But it’s not to be condoned, and should be corrected it’s what’s known as a ‘Southern Stratagy ‘roadmap used since being brought here, that has been used over and over in history on poor peoples, tested tried and true. this is what we must understand and not be divided, but better educated as to the real problem and who and what the enemy really is . my son and I went out to Pilgrem Rest Baptist Church in Phoenix Az in May to protest hate mongering and show some love for my brown Mexican sista’s and brothers with Rev Al Sharpton as did many other blacks and whites,reds and yellows. cause most of us know the deal.

  • Sam Molloy

    GlennSR, you’re exactly right.

  • GlennSR

    I am African American, with a Mexican as a son in law, love him like a son. I am the 1st to stand against Racism by and against any race. This situation reminds me of what Shirley Sherrod illustrated in her “entire” video. “It’s not a black and white problem” it’s a problem of of the “haves & not” social economics in the US sets the poor against poor. The immigration issue doesn’t help.

  • american wetback

    together we can.

  • american wetback

    the real criminals are sitting somewhere in their undisclosed location just laughing their a#$%$ off. this is what they do, they get proxys to fight their race war for them and whoever is left standing, they just swoop in and pick them off. education is the key and the rightwing extremists need to be voted out of office and this will only happen when we pull our votes together and do some real political damage to the hatemongers at the top.

  • Gambit

    “The fact that CNN and MSNBC joins Fox News in giving voice to these anti-immigrant extremists—especially the ones with ties to white supremacist groups—is not helping matters.” – Dae…

    You mean to tell me the blacks are “tied to the White supremacy groups”? After all, that’s what this is about.

  • daemonesslisa

    Yes, Dan, yes I am. Problem? There are no liberals among the tea-hadists that have been all over the media pushing this crap. But go ahead, keep calling liberals the real racists without any proof and wear that idiocy proudly!

  • Dan

    And let me guess, you’re going to blame conservatives ?

  • daemonesslisa

    CM, those perpetual victims are just sitting in their basements waiting for the next article.

    But back on topic…this is what happens when people aren’t educated; Latino immigrants get scapegoated and people end up believing what they see and read. The fact that CNN and MSNBC joins Fox News in giving voice to these anti-immigrant extremists—especially the ones with ties to white supremacist groups—is not helping matters.

  • CM

    Interesting – Here’s the SPLC writing about hate crimes that don’t involve people of Northwestern European ancestry, and no one is commenting. Where are all those people who are constantly accusing the SPLC of only reporting on white racists?