Hate crimes are motivated by hostility or aggression toward any person because of race, color, sexual orientation, disability or religious beliefs. Every hour of every day a hate crime is committed in the United States.
Latinos, Victims Of Intolerance
Intolerance and racial prejudice have worsened across the country but especially in multi-ethnic and multiracial areas where Latinos are often the most vulnerable victims. The main target for bigotry against the Latino community is related to immigration, experts on the subject say.
2009 was a year plagued by hate. According to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), hate crimes, particularly toward Latinos, increased by 40%. Many of the victims were attacked just for being immigrants or because they were Latino.
For example, on February 26, 2009 the lives of many Chilean students changed in a matter of minutes. Dannie Roy Baker, 60, discharged his weapon without mercy against several foreign students participating in a student exchange program between the U.S. and Chile, in the state of Florida. Paul Nicholas Corp-Torres, 23, and Racine-Aragondona Balbantil 22, died instantly. Three other foreigners: Mauricio Sebastian Araiza-Suarez, 27, David Alonzo Francisco Javier Bilbao Meza and Copper-Fernandez, both 25, were seriously injured.
But 2008 was not any less violent. Carlos Orellana, a construction worker who lived in suburban New York was beaten during the summer by a group of young people just for speaking Spanish. His case didn’t really make headlines because it didn’t end in death, unlike the case of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant, who was stabbed to death last November at the hands of seven high school students.
“My heart is broken and his memories will live forever, my brother left a 9 year-old son, a 4 year-0old girl, and a heartbroken family.” These are the words of pain Sucuzhanay Diego, who lost his brother Joseph at the hands of the intolerance of some youths who attacked him with a bat because he was gay and Latino.
Note that in this climate of intolerance white supremacist violence is increasing due to the debate over illegal immigration and economic problems. These hate messages are seen on a larger scale using the Internet to recruit followers. In the background of all of this is the recognition that hate crimes are a growing problem, crimes fueled by intolerance and discrimination. We need appropriate legislation and instruments to combat hate crimes.
Identifying Hate Crimes
- The first thing to ask is whether the crime victimizes one person or an entire group, either by religion, nationality, sexual preference, etc. A crime caused by intolerance toward any group can, in addition to causing fear, cause humiliation to all members of the community.
- This type of behavior may attack or threaten not only the person but your property. Painting a swastika, burning a cross or throwing paint on a car or a wall are proof of that.
- Listen to the attacker. Any negative complaints against a person or racial group may indicate deeper anger to commit a crime.
- A hate crime does not necessarily mean murder, violent assault or destruction of property. For example, intimidation, insults and harassment are other ways to commit such crimes.
- Immediately report the incident to the police or your local community organizations.
- Write down the exact words, insults or threats. In addition to any other information that might be useful.
- Locate witnesses to the incident, if any.
- Preserve evidence of the crime on people or property.
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