News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Friday, November 14, 2008

Growing wave of hate crimes against Latinos claims another victim

According to a recent FBI report, the overall rate of hate crimes in the U.S. has declined for the last four years -- except for attacks on Hispanics. Violence and vandalism directed against Latinos has grown by 40% since 2003. Proof of this disturbing trend was made painfully clear by an incident in Long Island, New York on November 8th.

Marcello Dusero, age 38, was beaten and stabbed to death by a gang of seven youths as he walked a few blocks to a friend’s house. The young men who assaulted the immigrant from Ecuador had never met Dusero before. Their only reason for attacking him was his ethnicity.

One of the seven young men arrested for the assault told police the group’s actions on that Saturday evening began with these words: “Let's go find some Mexicans to f--- up.” Their search for a victim started in Medford, New York. Failing to find a target there, they drove their SUV to nearby Patchogue where they encountered Dusero and a friend at a train station. Minutes later, Marcello Dusero lay dead on the pavement.

Dusero’s death comes on the heels of the fatal attack on Luis Ramirez who in July of this year died in a hospital two days after being brutally beaten by a group of youths in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. Both attacks were unprovoked and premeditated. Their sole purpose was an expression of hate.

In another era, they would have been called a lynch mob.

The debate over undocumented immigrants in the U.S. has brought out the nation’s worst elements. Ray Larsen, Imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan said, “Illegal immigrants is [sic] bringing us far more members than we did when we were just totally against any ethnic group.” Larsen boasted of running out of membership applications after a KKK anti-immigrant rally in Indiana. Meanwhile, talk radio and internet sites continue to spew vicious propaganda laced with overt racism against undocumented workers. These messages of hate are finding fertile ground among Americans uneasy about the growth of the nation’s minorities and frustrated by our sick economy.

Some have tried to portray the attack on Dusero as “high school hazing” gone out of control, not an ethnically-motivated crime. But as the spreading toxic waste of hatred created by the anti-immigrant fringe leaches deeper into the nation, it’s not hard to understand why the young men who killed Luis Ramirez and Marcello Dusero would seek out any Latino as the victim for their attacks.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez

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