In The News

Group: Hate Against Hispanics Rising

07-26-99 Loathsome Fifth-Columnist (Emphasis Added)

HOUSTON -- Hate crimes against Hispanics are on the rise, underscoring a troubling pattern of harassment against the nation's fastest-growing minority group by law enforcement and extremists, the National Council of La Raza said today.

"It seems that open season has been declared on our community,'' President Raul Yzaguirre said at the annual convention of the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights group. "Private citizens and law enforcement officials feel they can harass or attack Hispanic Americans with almost complete impunity.''

A report released by the group, "The Mainstreaming of Hate,'' chronicles allegations of hate crime violence, church burning and law enforcement abuse. Although the authors rely heavily on anecdotal evidence, they say the study gives a first-of-its kind look at an emerging pattern of hate activity against Hispanics.

In 1993, the first year federal hate crime statistics were reported, there were 472 anti-Hispanic incidents reported. The numbers increased to 516 in 1995 and 564 in 1996. In 1997, the last year reported, anti-Hispanic hate crimes exceeded 600 incidents.

Yzaguirre said attacks against Hispanics are being overlooked.

"It was clear that most of the incidents that came across our desks involving Latinos were simply being ignored by the media and policy-makers,'' Yzaguirre said. "To the extent we are data invisible, we will continue to be policy invisible.''

The authors said "numerous cases'' of illegal and inappropriate seizures, traffic stops based on ethnic appearance and physical abuse have been reported and instill in Latinos a sense of fear and mistrust.

The report said that Hispanics themselves seem to be committing more hate crimes. Using numbers principally from incidents reported in California, the only state where such numbers are collected based on national origin and ethnicity, preliminary numbers showed an increase Hispanic-committed crimes, said Carmen Joge, a La Raza policy analyst.

La Raza advocates the passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1999 and extensive training of local law enforcement officials in identifying and responding to hate violence.

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