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¡Ya basta!: Violent Anti-Latino/Anti-Immigrant Hate Crimes Continues to Soar Nationwide

First Posted: Feb 20, 2014 06:48 PM EST
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Violent Anti-Latino Hate Crimes have climbed, tripling in just one year, according to an official report that was released by the Hate Crime Victimizations report in 2012. The Census-based study showed that anti-Hispanic violence increased from 0.6 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older in 2011, to 2.0 per 1,000 in 2012. While the overall total of nonfatal and property hate crime victimizations has not changed significantly since 2004, the targets have changed.

By 2043, the ethno-racial landscape of America will completely change, and whites will dwindle to the minority in the U.S., which explains a level of discontent from other groups and the present white majority. The country's demographic changes show an evidential growth of Latinos, and that has resulted in the growth of anti-Latino hate crimes.

2013's Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project data showed that more than half of the Hispanic adult population in the US are immigrants. Eighty-one percent of the Hispanic adult population expressed satisfaction about their current living conditions, both immigrants and non-immigrants. However, the 19 percent who aren't satisfied with their current situation rattle with fear, believing that they will be victimized due to their ethnicity.

When hate crimes are motivated by an offender's bias toward a particular ethnicity/nation origin, Hispanics are targeted 59.4 percent of the time. In 2012, 293,800 nonfatal violent and property hate crime victimizations transpired in the United States. That means that 173,342 Latinos experienced violence at the hands of bigots who were too entranced by hatred to abstain from violence. Anti-Hispanic crimes occur at a higher rate in areas where there are Hispanic immigrants.    

On Wednesday, Feb. 20, 350 individuals gathered at Trenton City Hall to call for an end to anti-Hispanic violence, and justice to be served after the killing of 18-year-old Julio Caesar Cruz around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16.

Cruz was returning home from buying dinner from a bakery near his home. As he approached his house, two hooded African American males beat Cruz until he fell unconscious, and he hit his head on the concrete porch.

One of Cruz's roommates heard the struggle, emerged from the house, and chased after one of the assailants, striking him with a plastic shovel, but he ultimately got away. The roommate returned to the scene of the crime and didn't detect any sign of life. Cruz was declared dead upon arrival at St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton.

Whether the act was done to rob Cruz or inflict injury was not determined, but what has been determined is that Cruz's death was an act of senseless violence that devastated a family and a community.

Cruz's older brother, Jose, traveled from Tennessee to put his brother to rest, and stated that he would not leave Trenton until they found justice.

"I am devastated by the death of my brother," said Jose Antonio Cruz to Trentonian. "We would talk every day by phone. The last time we talked, he was so excited because he got a job at a car wash," said the brother, choking back his tears.

Community leaders from Trenton's Latino community, Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer, community activist Andrew Bobbit and Jose Antonio Cruz stood together at Wednesday's rally at Trenton City Hall. 

Stopping violence against immigrants was emphasized at the rally, an issue which affects every Latino in the Trenton community. When asked who had experienced assaults while walking the streets of Trenton, nearly everyone raised their hands. And, several speakers commented on the violence:

"I have been jumped twice and while three or four guys are hitting me they keep on saying go back to Guatemala," said a Trenton High student attending the rally who wished to not give his name.

"We are not safe here in the city of Trenton, someone needs to do something, This can not remain unresolved" said Sandra Pinto who came from Guatemala and work for Catholic Charities in Trenton.

"Enough is enough, we are tired of the constant harassment because where we come from. We work hard, mind our own business, pay taxes and don't bother anyone," said Aida, who says her son was assaulted because of his Guatemalan nationality.

33.7 percent of Trenton, N.J.'s population is Hispanic, which is much higher than the state's percentage, 17.7 percent.  More than one-third of the town's population fear the rabid violence experienced by their immigrant neighbors.

Roberto Hernandez, executive director of El Centro who coordinated the event, said that they will meet next week at 327 S. Broad St., in the basement of Sacred Heart church to talk more about the issue of violence.

Julio Cesar Cruz's funeral will be this Saturday starting at 6 p.m. at Chiacchio's Funeral Home. On Monday, his body will be sent to Guatemala.

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