A brief news story on New Year’s Eve stated that a 42-year-old woman in Clive, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines, earlier in December intentionally ran over a 14-year-old girl with her SUV because she “thought she was ‘a Mexican.'”
The victim, Natalia Miranda, was walking on the sidewalk toward school when struck by Nicole Poole Franklin, who did not stop to help.
In Iowa, where there are few hate crimes, this was unusual, but throughout the nation there has been an alarming increase in violence against Hispanics. Domingo Garcia, national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, founded in 1929, said in a statement quoted by The Des Moines Register:
“This is the latest victim in what has already been one of the bloodiest years for Latinos in the United States and no one is more to blame for this dangerous toxic environment than President Trump himself. He has steadily beat the drum of racial bigotry since he started campaigning for office and inspired murder, assaults and racial taunts all across America in 2019.”
A California State University study released this past fall by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism shows person-directed crimes rose to a 16-year high of 4,571 in 2018, accounting for 61% of all hate crimes. For Latinos, those crimes have risen 13% over one year and 48% over five years.
The worst crime in 2019 was the August massacre at a Walmart store that left 22 dead and dozens wounded, all shot by a 21-year-old Texan who said he was trying to stop “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
A video snipped from one of the president’s political rallies shows him describing what he characterized as an invasion on our southern border and asking what he is to do. “Shoot them,” someone shouted.
He could have responded: “No, shooting migrants and refugees or any of the 56 million Hispanics in our country is not an option; all are human beings, the overwhelming majority citizens, legal and undocumented immigrants who are productive, law-abiding and in stable families.” He didn’t.
Thus, there are individuals in our society who think violence is not only permissible but perhaps even patriotic. The arraignment photo of the woman who ran over Miranda shows her smiling and the El Paso suspect told the Texas Rangers who captured him, “I am the shooter,” as if he expected congratulations.
There was a time when, as some historians framed it, there was open season on brown people. Between 1865 and 1920, according to historians, more Mexicans were lynched in the Southwest than blacks in the Old South.
Historian Walter Prescott Webb wrote that one law applied to Mexicans, and another, less rigorous, to political leaders and prominent Americans. In West Texas, Judge Roy Bean could find nothing in the law that made killing a Mexican a crime. But those days, thank God, are over.
Franklin was charged with attempted murder and remained jailed with bond set at $1 million. West Des Moines Community Schools superintendent Lisa Remy released a statement that counselors, teachers and administrators were on hand to support all students then and in the months to come.
“As she (Miranda) continues to physically improve, we understand that the emotional impact of this incident will remain long after her body heals,” she stated.
That emotional impact, however, extends far and wide. We Hispanics go out on the street with it every day. Who will be next?
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