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

Anti-Latino Hate Crimes Seen From Baltimore to Arizona

By Larry Keller on August 23, 2010 - 4:41 pm, Posted in Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Latino

Record-breaking high temperatures have been the norm this summer in the United States and other countries. But for Latinos, it’s been even hotter than the thermometer suggests, with one after another targeted for hate crimes around the country. Here’s a sampling of recent incidents:

  • 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.
  • Since April, there have been 11 assaults on Mexicans in the Staten Island city of Port Richmond, which has a burgeoning Latino population. All but one of the attacks is considered a bias-motivated crime carried out by blacks attacking Mexicans. There have been 26 suspected hate crimes on Staten Island this year, compared to 11 by this time last year, according to a story in The Los Angeles Times. For all of New York City, the numbers are 222 and 125, respectively.
  • An Auburn, Wash. man was charged with violating the state’s hate crimes law last month after he allegedly pointed a gun at three Latino neighbors and threatened to shoot them. A police report stated that after his arrest, Thomas Hanson, 63, complained that his neighbors “were disrespecting him in his own country.” (They had asked him to turn down the volume on his music.) Hanson also sent U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) 238 E-mails, many of them ranting about illegal immigration and immigrants from Mexico.
  • 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.

These incidents and others appear to be part of a general trend that has been in the making for several years. Anti-Latino crimes increased in each of the four years from 2003 through 2007, before dropping back slightly in 2008, according to FBI national hate crime statistics (2009 figures have not yet been compiled). In recent months, politicians and others have made statements that demonize Latinos and likely contribute to the atmosphere of violence. 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. CNN asked Tom Fuentes, who served as the FBI’s assistant director in the office of international operations from 2004 to 2008 about the claims by Gohmert and Riddle. “There was never a credible report — or any report, for that matter …  to indicate that there was such a plan for these terror babies to be born,” he said.

Debunking myths like these about Hispanic immigrants won’t likely deter new ones from cropping up like stubborn weeds. And in today’s overheated immigration climate, it’s a good bet more Hispanics will be beaten, even killed, as the debate — if it can be called that — rages on.

  • Julie Martin

    some links to killing of Hispanic man by teenagers in Summit, NJ

  • ruben

    ruslan!……its funny how you bring that up.both me and my wife are of mexican decent and last night as we were watching anderson cooper 360 they were talking about the mosque in murfeesburo,tenn and she told me that its now the muslims turn to be demonized and hated by the white right….then i told her don’t worry the closer election time gets here it will be back to blame the mexicans for everything from global to the bad economy and everything in between…white right wing america are the masters of division and bogus propaganda they can turn a white cold blooded murderer into a hero and a so called patriot…..i wonder whos next on there hate list.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Kinda weird how this thread is silent when usually such issues are a big draw. I guess “Them Muhslims” are a bigger “threat” than “them Mexicuhns.”

  • Paen

    In Mein Kampf Hitler talked a great deal about using skapegoats in order to arrouse anger in order to mobilise the masses and to justify racist policies,just like the right wing is doing today.

  • Shadow Wolf

    They don’t know if the murder of Juan by Gary in Arizona is a “hate crime”. Because the local media reported(including the Feathered Bastard of New Times) that some of the Mexicans or Latinos in the neighborhood, knew Gary and considered him a “good neighbor”. There are conflicting reports on that one. Which is kinda sketchy. So the law is treating that one as a 2nd degree murder(if I recall, I could be wrong).

    As for the rise of “hate crimes” on Hispanics here in the U.S.. Is probably not comparable as to the abhorrent Canada’s racist policies on the Indigenous population. And the recent shocking revelation of gynaecidal-like killings of Native women of Canada. Approx. 600 to be exact, have been murdered or missing since the 1970s.

    Both countries(U.S. and Canada) still would not signed onto to the U.N. Declaration of Indigenous Rights. Even when other first class countries such as Australia and New Zealand among others have.
    Shows us that we still have a long way in working on race relations in the 21st century civilized society.

  • dmgg711

    This has been a way of life for Mexicans, whether Mexican Americans, legal or undocumented, they have suffered discrimination throughout their lives in the United States by mostly ‘Anglos’. Recently it has been blacks because of the job situation but it still doesn’t make it right to take a life.

    In Arizona the white man who killed the Mexican American, though he is charged with a ‘hate crime’ and the murder is 2nd degree. This guy had his gun on him with the intention of shooting his neighbor. You know that if it would have been the opposite and Varela shot the white neighbor it would have been 1st degree murder and he’d be in death row by now.

    I haven’t heard much of the 3 Minuteman Group (one female who ordered the killing) in a home invasion looking for drugs and guns shot and killed a father and his 8 year old daughter so she wouldn’t identify them and the mother. After they left the house, the woman sent one of the guys to go back to the house to make sure they were all dead. The mother got a gun and when the guy walked into the house she shot him in the leg. He was picked up at Kingman at a hospital. The mother survived and a sibling who spent the night at a relatives house was the only member left alive. This happened in 2008 and mum is the word.

    The Arizona rancher, Krentz, the investigation into his murder is leading to an acquaintence from the U.S. but that is been kept under wraps until after the Arizona Immigration Law is resolved or dissolved.

    Many of vigilante and extreme racist killings of Mexicans, whether legal or not are being killed but the Arizona news media and enforcement officers have been keeping a low profile on these murders and tortures.

  • Snorlax

    Sounds like plenty of terrorism is going on…by angry whites and directed at Latinos.

    And I don’t think they mind much if their victims are US citizens or not.