The climate of fear report was a report prepared by the southern poverty law center following a pattern of hate crimes against Latino Immigrants in Suffolk County. This report revealed the continuous hatred and prejudice against the undocumented Latino immigrants culminating in the murder of Marcelo Lucero.
The report also revealed how this pattern of bias and prejudice instilled fear among these immigrants, leading to the brutal murder and other perpetrated hate crimes. This paper will critically analyze the climate of fear report, seeking to explain how bias, fear and input of leaders fueled discrimination of Latino immigrants and the ultimate murder of Marcelo Lucero.
For several years, thousands of Latinos immigrants have continuously settled in the village of Long Island in Suffolk County. Their settlement in the village sparked tension hatred among the residents and the surrounding communities. The Suffolk’s county politicians and the police accelerated this hatred against these immigrants and to some extent, they even attacked them (Long Island Press, 2010).
By 2008, the native residents of the Suffolk County had already started organizing and forming groups that were against the Latino immigrants. On November 2008, a group of armed youths carried out the execution of Marcelo Lucero, who was an Ecuadorian immigrant, in Patchogue, New York.
After investigations, the police disclosed that the gang of youths who killed him called themselves the “Caucasian Crew” and their major agenda was to raid and kill the Latino immigrants. Hatred grew stronger towards the immigrants, who did not have documents to identify themselves (Potok, 2009).
The murder of Marcelo Lucero was just one of the targets of the racists youth gang, which targeted more people and the attacks became a pattern nation wide (Cook & Silva, 2008).
Following the murder of Marcelo Lucero in the Suffolk County, the federal government initiated an investigation to establish the foundations of the practice and pattern of hate crimes against the undocumented immigrants. In September 2009, the climate of fear report by the Southern Poverty Law Centre confirmed that the pattern and practice of hate crimes started in the past decades (Mala, 2009).
The murder of Lucero focused national attention on issues concerning the local fears and hate crimes. The report included the murder of Marcelo in its extended timeline documentation of patterns of hate crimes against undocumented immigrants all over the country.
This clearly implies that the murder of Lucero was not a mere accident or just another mob raid; it was due to an ongoing planned attack on all the undocumented immigrants in Suffolk County. The perpetrators of these hate crimes directed their hatred to the immigrants of Latino origin (Long Island Press, 2010).
Possible causes of the murder of Marcelo Lucero at the community level
It is evident that the murder of Marcelo was part of the constant hatred against the undocumented immigrants of Latino origin, which started at least a decade ago. The roots of this hatred in Suffolk County commenced with development of Sachem Quality of Life (SQL).
This militant anti-immigrant group spread false information asserting that Latino immigrants were to blame for sexual harassments, robbery and other serious offenses. This anti-immigrant group constantly spread the message that the Latino immigrants were fierce terrorists.
In addition, this group rose up against individuals or institutions advocating for the rights of these immigrants labeling them as collaborators (wilderside.com, 2009).
There were increased harassments against the Latino immigrants in Suffolk County. The perpetrators regularly pelted some of the immigrants with very sharp objects and launched some from cars. The climate of fear report also revealed that most Latino immigrants were victims of physical abuse perpetrated by organized anti-immigrant groups (Potok, 2009).
It was so severe that some perpetrators shot Latino immigrants with BB guns or sprayed some with pepper. These acts instilled much fear to these immigrants such that they would not even walk at night and some parents did not allow their children to play outside frequently (Mala, 2009).
This is a clear indication that there was a climate of hatred directed towards the undocumented immigrants of the Latino origin. Due to this, the anti-immigrant groups in Suffolk County carried out several planned attacks on these immigrants. This implies that these planned attacks on the immigrants happening at the community level fueled the murder of Lucero in Patchogue.
Another possible reason for the murder of Lucero was the possible assistance by the police at the community level. The climate of fear report revealed that the police in Suffolk County did nothing at all respond to the reported attacks. Most Latino immigrants indicated that the police blamed the victims instead of assisting them (Potok, 2009).
Other Latinos claimed that prior to the murder of Lucero, police would arbitrarily stop immigrants to enquire their identification, even when they were not doing anything illegal (Long Island Press, 2010).
Due to this indifference by the police, most immigrants chose not to report any attack to the police as it would be in vain. They also feared that if they report any attack to the police, they would require their identification, which these immigrants did not have (Mala, 2009).
Input of local and national leaders towards Latino-immigrants discrimination
A part from the native anti-immigrant groups, the local people and police fueling the hatred, the officials in Suffolk County also triggered these attacks.
For instance, after the Lucero murder, the county executive asserted that the killing would have been just a mere tragedy devoid of the earlier publicity of anti-immigrants activisms. The hard reality that came out was that hate violence against the Latino immigrants occurred even before this brutal killing, and the County officials fueled this violence (Potok, 2009).
For instance, one county legislator asserted that if he would see an influx of Latino day laborers in his town, he would organize the natives to attack them. Still another legislator claimed that he would immediately load his gun, if he saw Latino immigrants gathering in one place (wilderside.com, 2009).
These instances indicate how the local leadership fueled prejudice and hatred against the Latino immigrants. Instead of protecting the rights of such immigrants, these leaders supported the anti-immigrants groups at the local level to carry out attacks on the immigrants.
Bias and hatred for the Immigrants did not only occur at the County leadership, it was evident that even at the national level, there was much bias and prejudice against undocumented immigrants. This hatred sparkled after Republican politicians chose to use immigration as a wedge matter. They advocated and passed complex and harsh regulations to criminalize the undocumented immigrants.
There were concerted efforts by the congress to renovate the entire immigration policy for acknowledgement of the undocumented immigrants. However, these efforts did not prosper as the opponents only wanted to make the Latino immigrants suffer (Standing-firm.com, 2008).
The federal agents also repeatedly carried out several raids and banishments, with assistance from state and local groups. Because of these raids and deportations, the police stopped almost one in every ten Latinos including legal immigrants, and enquired their identification. This generated much fear in the Latino immigrants and they felt threatened by the whole system (Standing-firm.com, 2008).
These patterns of hate and discrimination fueled by local as well as national leaders clearly reveal a constant nationwide bias and prejudice against the Latino Immigrants. It is also evident that the murder of Lucero was because of these patterns of hate against the immigrants, which occurred both at the local level and at the national level.
Fear and prejudice as possible causes of anti-Latino immigrants
The climate of fear report revealed that fear could have accelerated the circumstances that led to the murder of Marcelo Lucero. The undocumented Latino immigrants said that they feared reporting the groups of young men who hurled stones and spit slurs at them prior to the murder. These immigrants believed that the police would arrest and deport them once they appear to report the attacks.
It is clear that if these immigrants were confident to report the attacks, then possibly the murder of Marcelo would not have occurred (Long Island Press, 2010). During the hearing, the young men who attacked Marcelo told the judge that they were sure the Latinos would not report them since they were illegal immigrants, hence feared interrogation concerning their immigration status (Eltman, 2011).
A part from fear, it emerged that there was much bias and prejudice against the Latino immigrants, which even sparkled in schools. In most public schools, there is much discrimination against these immigrants, which instills fear in them.
Most Latino students claim that their lack of identification as legal immigrants is a source of discrimination and prejudice. This further instilled much fear in them such that they could not report any hate violence perpetrated by the natives (Abendroth, 2010).
The pattern of hatred and prejudice against the undocumented Latino immigrant instilled much fear in these immigrants, especially in Suffolk County. This pattern of hatred caused several hate crimes against them culminating in the murder of Marcelo Lucero.
The immigrants feared to report any attacks to the police due to the repeated raids and deportation of any illegal immigrant. In addition, the police as well as local and national leadership fueled these hate crimes, instilling more fear to the Latino immigrants.
Abendroth, M. (2010). Young Latin American immigrants and their schooling on Long Island. Retrieved from http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:NvGKZYF2y00J:lasa.international.pitt.edu/members/
Cook, F & Silva, M. (2008). Vigil for Marcelo Lucero. Retrieved from http://wwww.socialistworker.org/vigil-for-marcelo-lucero
Eltman, F. (2011). PBS ‘Not in Our Town’ Documentary: Hate Crime Debate Still Simmers. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/not-in-our-town-documentary-marcelo-lucero_n_970565.html
Long Island Press. (2010). Lucero Murder Hits Latin American Community: Immigrants say tension fading following attack. Retrieved from http://www.longislandpress.com/2010/03/27/lucero-murder-hits-latin-american-community/
Mala, M. L. (2009). Climate of Fear Extends from Suffolk County into Comprehensive Immigration Reform Rhetoric. Retrieved from http://vivirlatino.com/climate-of-fear-extends-from-suffolk-county-into-comprehensive-immigration-reform-rhetoric.php
Potok, M. (2009). Southern Poverty Law Center Report: Climate of Fear. Retrieved from http://www.lifnb.com/ media/zines/southern_poverty_law_center_report_climate_fear
Standing-firm.com. (2008). A Death in Patchogue. Retrieved from http://standing-firm.com/a-death-in-patchogue
Wilderside.com. (2009). Southern Poverty Law Center: Anti-Immigrant Climate Fuelling Violence against Latinos in Suffolk County. Retrieved from http://wilderside.wordpress.com-southern-poverty-law-center-anti-immigrant-climate-fueling-violence-against-latinos-in-suffolk-county/