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The beating and subsequent death of Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez has Latinos and other minority groups concerned for their well being. An all white jury acquitted the white teenagers of murder.
There is a rise in hate crimes against Hispanics, from 595 in 2003 to 830 in 2007. The numbers continue to reflect a growing trend, officials say. This crime, as many “hate crimes” tend to be, are difficult to prosecute because they are fairly easy to prove reasonable doubt. These crimes seem to require a keen psychological lens. Who is to say what is a crime committed out of hate?
There are legislative actions in place that will hopefully make prosecuting hate crimes more feasible for the victims. For example, in conjunction with the Ramirez crime, civil rights groups and elected officials are urging the Justice Department to rethink a federal hate crimes bill that would provide more protection, especially for gay and transgender individuals, who, among Hispanics are a growing cohort of victims.
What does this say about where we are in America? It may be really easy to use the excuse that it is 2009 and racism no longer exists. The simple fact is that discrimination against all groups is alive and well. Prejudice thrives in the fabric of America, still, and because it has mutated into the hidden corners of our minds and is less blatantly committed than in the 1960’s, is harder to detect and take legal action against. Prejudice is in our language, our minds, our daily routines, consciously committed as in yelling racial slurs, and so unconscious as not making eye contact when we speak to people who are different than us.
A growing trend, officials say…trend being the key word: this is something that has been and will continue to be a trend until Americans are willing to dig deep and do the work to stop it.