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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition
Confronting the New Faces of Hate: Hate Crimes in America 2009. LCCR Education Fund.

Hate Crimes Against Hispanics

In the five years from 2003-2007, the number of hate crimes reported against Hispanics increased nearly 40 percent (from 426 in 2003 to 595 in 2007). Of all hate crimes reported in the United States in 2007, 7.8 percent were committed against Hispanics. Of hate crimes in 2007 motivated by bias due to the victim's ethnicity or national origin, nearly 60 percent were committed against Hispanics, up nearly 50 percent from 2003. This alarming increase, and its correlation to increasingly virulent anti-immigrant rhetoric, is discussed above in The State of Hate: Escalating Hate Violence Against Immigrants. Other examples of recent hate crimes committed against Hispanics include:

  • In Brooklyn, New York on December 7, 2008, Jose Osvaldo Sucuzhañay, a 31 year-old Ecuadorian and father of two, was walking home from a bar and a church party with his brother, their arms around each other, as is common among men in many Latino cultures. Three men drove up to the brothers yelling anti-gay and anti-Hispanic slurs. While his brother escaped, Sucuzhañay, who ran a local real estate agency and had lived in New York for a decade, was struck on the head by a beer bottle and fell to the ground. Another attacker beat his head with an aluminum baseball bat. The three attackers continued kicking and punching him. Suffering severe head fractures and extensive brain damage, he died two days later.33 Keith Phoenix, 28, and Hakim Scott, 25, were indicted on March 3, 2009. The two men were charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and assault, all as hate crimes, and could face 78 years to life in prison. Both men claim that they are not guilty.34

  • On Long Island, New York on November 8, 2008, Marcelo Lucero, a 37 year-old Ecuadorian real estate agent, was beaten and fatally stabbed by seven teenagers who were driving around to "go find some Mexicans to f— up." The teens spotted Lucero and a friend, then proceeded "[l]ike a lynch mob...got out of their car and surrounded Mr. Lucero," beating and stabbing him, according to the local prosecutor. The teenagers, all 17 and 16 years old, were charged with felony gang assault. One of them was also charged with manslaughter as a hate crime. Steve Levy, the County Executive of Suffolk County, where the murder occurred, has frequently and forcefully spoken out against immigrants, including on Lou Dobbs Tonight.

    The New York Times editorialized about Lucero's death and hate crimes against Latinos:

    A possible lynching in a New York suburb should be more than enough to force this country to acknowledge the bitter chill that has overcome Latinos in these days of rage against illegal immigration.

    The atmosphere began to darken when Republican politicians decided a few years ago to exploit immigration as a wedge issue. They drafted harsh legislation to criminalize the undocumented. They cheered as vigilantes streamed to the border to confront the concocted crisis of Spanish-speaking workers sneaking in to steal jobs and spread diseases. Cable personalities and radio talk-show hosts latched on to the issue. Years of effort in Congress to assemble a responsible overhaul of the immigration system failed repeatedly. Its opponents wanted only to demonize and punish the Latino workers on which the country had come to depend.

    A campaign of raids and deportations, led by federal agents with help from state and local posses, has become so pervasive that nearly 1 in 10 Latinos, including citizens and legal immigrants, have told of being stopped and asked about their immigration status, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Now that the economy is in free fall, the possibility of scapegoating is deepening Hispanic anxiety.35

Next Section: Hate Crimes Against Jews


33. Robert D. McFadden, "Attack on Ecuadorean Investigated as Hate Crime," The New York Times, December 8, 2008.

34. Kareem Fahim, "2 Indicted in Fatal Beating of Ecuadorian Immigrant," The New York Times, March 3, 2009.

35. Editorial, "A Death in Patchogue," The New York Times, November 10, 2008.

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