How do we fight hate crimes?
At the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) conference in Chicago a group of leaders said the only way to do this is to band together.
"What matters is how many good people come together to be the anti-haters," said Stacy Burdett, associate director of government and national affairs with the Anti-Defamation League.
Burdett and others spoke at a panel at the NCLR conference on hate crimes.
"Every week we hear of new and different bias attacks," said Lisa Navarrete, vice president of the National Council of La Raza. "...Hate groups that normally targeted Jews and blacks are now targeting Latinos."
Several cases prominent cases have come to light in the last year of men who were attacked and killed because they looked Mexican.
I've written blog posts about Luis Ramirez and Marcelo Lucero. Justice for them has been slow.
Jose Perez, associate general counsel with Latino Justice PRLDEF, has
investigated the Lucero case. In November, he was beaten by a group of
drunk white teens and stabbed to death by one of them in Patchogue, New
York. The teens were out to "jump a Mexican," but Lucero was from
Perez said Latino Justice PRLDEF found out that previous to the Lucero
murder there had been a string of attacks against Latinos by some of
the same assailants and that the Suffolk County police overlooked them.
They have called for the Department of Justice to investigate them.
"Could the police have prevented this (Luero) attack?" Perez asked. "Absolutely."
So the police didn't connect the dots and too often as a society we turn a blind eye.
In the Ramirez case, two white teens were only found guilty of assault
and got six months for his murder. The Mexican American Legal Defense
and Educational Fund is calling for a Department of Justice
investigation and asking people to sign an online petition.
"People don't want their communities to be filled with hate," said
Ellen Gallagher, another panelist and the national coordinator of
Welcoming America, which strives to build bridges of understanding in
communities facing an influx of immigrants.
It's not just an immigration issue or a Latino issue. We all have to band together to stop the hate.