Years of racist, anti-Latino rhetoric have continued to result in exactly what families and communities have feared to their core. NBC News reports that hate crimes against Latinos rose nearly 9% in 2019. Nearly half of the over 50 hate-motivated killings stem from one incident alone: the white supremacist terrorist attack that sought to target Mexicans in El Paso last year.
These acts are part of what is the highest reported number of hate crimes in more than 10 years, according to FBI data. Racist acts “are at a decade high—and it’s not a surprise,” tweeted the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) in response to the report. “After the open hostility and blatant racism from the Trump administration, this is the result.”
“Reported anti-Hispanic hate crimes, which include robberies, assaults and other crimes, rose to 527 last year, up from 485 in 2018, an 8.7 percent increase,” the NBC News report said, with 22 of the reported deaths directed to the white supremacist shooting at a Walmart in Texas last year. “Most of the victims were Latinos,” the report continued. “Authorities have said the gunman was targeting Hispanics when he drove hundreds of miles to El Paso and shot multiple people at a Walmart.”
El Paso Rep. Veronica Escobar told The Guardian during the anniversary of the shooting this past summer that from the moment she first became aware of the shooting, she feared it was a racist attack. “One of the things that stuck me that day was I kind of knew in my heart of hearts that it was a racially-motivated attack,” she told The Guardian. “When I heard about the mass attack … I kept holding on to hope that it was not what I feared.”
The white supremacist terrorist who murdered people as they went about their day spewed the same kind of racist rhetoric as impeached president Donald Trump, whose campaign horrifically refused to stop using the same “invasion” rhetoric that “featured prominently in the El Paso suspect’s manifesto,” The New York Times reported at the time.
Just weeks before the mass shooting, Trump in fact chuckled and “joked” about a rallygoer’s suggestion to shoot men, women, and children at the southern border. “That’s only in the Panhandle you can get away with that stuff,” Trump said during the Florida event, smiling and swaying at the podium. I wrote at the time that Trump’s rhetoric was a danger to this nation, that it was designed to incite. Then El Paso happened.
The record hate crimes are disturbing enough, but my colleague Dave Neiwert also noted this week that “this floodtide has been accompanied by a notable decline among law-enforcement agencies who take hate crimes seriously. As the Anti Defamation League observed in its response to the FBI report: ‘The data reveals a harrowing trend of increasing hate crimes being reported in the United States, even as fewer law enforcement agencies provided data to the FBI.’”
And actively ignored by some of the Trump administration’s most powerful political appointees. During an address to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in September, unlawfully appointed acting Sec. Chad Wolf ignored white supremacist terrorism to instead peddle anti-immigrant garbage for his boss, complete with racist lies about “foreigners seeking to harm and kill Americans.”
"Not only are hate crimes rising from elevated levels not seen in over a decade, they are increasingly more lethal and violent as white nationalists and other grievance sectors become more aggressive," Brian Levin of The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, told Neiwert. "Of concern is the across the board increase in assaults, even among groups experiencing overall declines."