Beating of Luis Ramirez ruled a homicide — Could this be the rallying cry for Latino politicians?

July 19th, 2008 · 44 Comments

Luis Ramirez, a 25-year old father of three, was beaten to death by a group of youth from Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, a town of about 5,000 approximately 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia. The Schuylkill County’s coroner has ruled the death a homicide. Witnesses of the beating say that the attack was racially motivated. No arrests have been made thus far.

Ramirez was just walking home last Saturday night when he was attacked and passed away on Monday from his injuries. He leaves behind three children and a fiancee, Crystal Dillman.

Although Ramirez was an undocumented immigrant, all evidence suggests that he was only working here in the U.S. to support his family. He intended to return to Mexico with Dillman and the children to purchase and run a business currently owned by his aunt.

As this opinion piece from the Republican Herald points out, “Nationality, ethnicity, color, religion or legal/illegal immigration status aside, no human being simply walking down a street deserves to be beaten to death.”

We have witnessed some horrific tragedies related to immigration over the past year in the United States, including the death of an undocumented pregnant teen working in the fields, how many more people will die before the Latino leaders in the U.S. start rallying and mobilizing to take swift action against these crimes? These deaths should be prompting our leaders to ask tough questions like the ones offered by The Sanctuary bloggers. And those of us who are concerned about these incidents should be screaming at the top of our lungs to publicize these deaths. It is my hope that those of you who are reading this blog feel compelled enough to take an activist step forward and contact the Congressional Hispanic Caucus during the next few days and express your feelings about what is happening on the streets and in the fields.

And for the family and friends of Luis Ramirez, I offer my deepest condolences. I’m ashamed that we are allowing this kind of inhumane and barbaric treatment of our fellow man within our borders. Luis, vaya… descanse en paz.

Photo Credit: WNEP-TV, “The Ramirez family hopes this photo of Luis in the hospital will remind those responsible for putting him there about what they did.”

Tags: Congressional Hispanic Caucus · Crime · Immigration

44 responses so far ↓

  • 1 PMG! // Jul 19, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Heart breaking… yeah, our national team covered this story… it’s absolutely horrific.

    The rallying cry at first should be at home, the detectives in investigating this case and reaching out the community for solid witnesses *sigh* But that is a struggle we have here, the community is still very fearful of reporting anything. In fact, Last night we spent over 25% of the time coaxing viewers to step forward on cases we got here… We know how hard it is for the authorities to do this on their own otherwise…

    Then when suspects are brought in, a cry to the DA… this certainly can be tried as a hate crime…

    Our local in the area is VERY small, but you know how we are and I’m actually very close to one of our reporters there. I’ll send her an e-mail and see what she has to stay about the case in ground zero on Monday…

    Thanks for brining this to even broader attention…

  • 2 Latino Consultant // Jul 19, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Until we get political leadership to talk responsibly about immigration and take on the Lou Dobbs in our media, we can expect more and more of these tragedies. People are bad enough with ‘strangers’ – people who are different – but add to this that this group of strangers are taking jobs away, reducing the standard of living and planning to return parts of the US to Mexico and you have created a maelstrom. Appears also that his fiancee was an Anglo – do we remember the lynching in the South?

    I think we ought to be able to try public figures for their ‘hate’ talk Lou and Fox are right at the top of the list.

    Adriana, you are right – we need our Latino elected officials to say this enough and it will not be tolerated and to really stand up for a change.

  • 3 Dee // Jul 19, 2008 at 11:07 am

    This is very sad and I think those guilty should be prosecuted for a hate crime! I will also write about this on my blog. Maybe if enough of us talk about it they will bring the criminals to justice!

  • 4 Michaelr // Jul 19, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    This incident is more common than you think. And unless the NCLR takes a page out of the NAACP, the Urban League, and the Southern Poverty Law Center playbook, this crime and all future violent crimes against Hispanics will go unprosecuted.

  • 5 O // Jul 21, 2008 at 9:03 am

    “Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once.” Julius Caesar

    My prayers and sentiments go out to his family.

    I hope that someday hard working Mexicans will never have to go far for honest work and a great wage.

  • 6 jammer // Jul 21, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Our “leaders” will not put themselves out there because they don’t want to be seen as soft on illegal immigration. Murder is murder no matter to whom it was done. Prediction: if this crime was done by another minority expect the harshest punishment which should be the case. If by whites, a softer sentence. I hate it that our leaders have allowed a nobody like Lou Dobbs control their agendas.

  • 7 BettyM // Jul 21, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Thank you for sharing information about the deaths of these two young people. I agree that this happens more often than we think. Most of us just haven’t heard about them. I will do my part and contact the Congressional Hispanic caucus – if we don’t speak up there will be no change.

  • 8 Michael // Jul 21, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    It’s really sad and I ashamed that we see hate crimes risen at highest levels against Hispanics and Latinos and no one, a Political, a Hispanic Leaders, and Latinos stand up against this crimes.

    Where is Justice? Where are those Human Values?

  • 9 concerned // Jul 21, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    I live close by to that area. There has been no arrests. The mayor and police are covering it up calling it an accident. The indivisauls that did this to him are walking free because of their family ties with the borough council and police department. This is heartbreaking that no justice is being served. I personally do not feel safe in this area with people like that running free. I have 2 children half white/mexican and this area is very racial and are not use to change. My babies are called names all the time by grown adults, you call the cops and they say nothing can be done. I hope this story of Luis gets out, and we the people can make a difference to this communities arrogance. Make our lives safer and better for our kids. Glod Bless Luis Ramirez and his family!

  • 10 Michaelr // Jul 22, 2008 at 10:54 am

    And there will probably be no arrests. If Luis Ramirez was an African-American, that area right now would be flooded with representatives of the NAACP, the Urban League, the Rainbow Coalition, Rev Al Sharpton, the Southern Law Poverty Center, and the Black Nation of Islam creating a media happening to shine a bright light on the obviously corrupt Shenandoah police department and those racist Schuykill County local courts. But since Luis Ramirez is a Latino, he will only have his family and friends to mourn for him, because the National Council of La Raza, MALDEF, and the U.S. Congressional Hispanic Caucus are too busy planning their next image awards ceremony, and worrying about future donations coming from Anheuser-Busch since they are in the process of being purchased by a European brewer.

  • 11 theKaiser // Jul 22, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Ooooo…that smarts! But you’re probably right, self-service and let-me-pack-my pockets full-of-money is definitely the standard behavior of those Latino organizations. It’s been more than 45 years since LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act into law, and local courts around the U.S. still ignore the basic rights of human beings. I thought the rule of law determined all things in the U.S.? But that seems to be just more fiction taught to us in public schools.

  • 12 Jim Morrison // Jul 23, 2008 at 7:38 am

    La Voz de Aztlan, a news publication out of Los Angeles, has published an excellent report on the brutal killing of Luis Ramirez. They also have other reports on many hate murders of Mexicans that have gone unpunished. The report on Mr. Ramirez is at

  • 13 MALDEF // Jul 23, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    Letter also seeks Community Relations Service intervention in Pennsylvania town
    July 21, 2008

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to the brutal murder of Luis Ramirez, a Mexican immigrant who was beaten to death by up to six white teenagers last weekend, MALDEF is calling upon the United States Department of Justice to open a federal civil rights investigation and to send civil rights monitors to Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.

    Ramirez came to the United States from Mexico six years ago and settled in Shenandoah. The 25-year old was raising three children with his fiancée while holding down two jobs. According to witnesses and local reports, he was accosted on Saturday evening, July 12 and suffered blows to the head and other parts of the body by a group shouting racial and ethnic epithets.

    “The rise in hate crimes against Latinos documented by the FBI is painfully and tragically clear in the death of Luis Ramirez. A retired police officer overheard someone shouting ‘You tell all your Mexican friends to get out of town,’ at the time of the beating that resulted in his death,” stated MALDEF President and General Counsel John Trasviña. Statements by local officials, including the mayor and city manager, may impede the full investigation of the hate crimes aspects of the murder. In press accounts, both the Shenandoah mayor and borough manager denied the racial and ethnic aspects of the crime.

    Last fall, the Federal Bureau of Investigation Hate Crimes Statistics Report documented a sharp increase in hate crimes against Hispanics based on their ethnicity or national origin. In its letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, MALDEF seeks a federal civil rights investigation to determine whether Luis Ramirez’s murder was a hate crime and, if so, to bring federal hate crimes charges against all those responsible. MALDEF is also requesting that Attorney General Mukasey send representatives from the Department of Justice Community Relations Service to Shenandoah to meet with community members.

    Founded in 1968, MALDEF, the nation’s leading Latino legal organization, promotes and protects the rights of Latinos through litigation, advocacy, community education and outreach, leadership development, and higher education scholarships.

    For more information contact:
    Estuardo Rodriguez: 202-631-2892
    Peter Zamora: 202-293-2828

  • 14 webmaster // Jul 24, 2008 at 6:14 am


    Thank you for sharing that information with us on the blog.

    I don’t have much faith that Attorney General Mukasey will act on your organization’s request. He is still one of the President’s men and has a reputation for obstructing justice in his own right. Henry Waxman has been threatening Mukasey with contempt of Congress. With all of the fires the AG has to put out, I don’t know where this case will fall on his priority list.

    I hope that your organization is talking to the local DA and to the people in this community encouraging those with information to speak out and give information to the investigating authorities.

    Please feel free to keep us posted. We will be watching the developments in this case closely.

  • 15 XP // Jul 24, 2008 at 6:17 am

    sadly I doubt the AG will do anything because they didn’t lift a finger for David Ritcheson, except to say that the scope of the national hate crime is outside their jurisdiction.

  • 16 Michaelr // Jul 24, 2008 at 9:55 am

    MALDEF sent a letter? A human being was beaten to death by racist thugs and MALDEF sends a letter? What does MALDEF think…that the United States is a nation of laws? It’s a nation of laws if you’re ethnicity is WASP, but if you’re a person of color, good luck! Is MALDEF that incompetent that they can’t pursue this directly with the local courts in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania? AG Mukasey is only interested in pursuing the agenda of the Bush Administration, and we all know what the Bush Administration is interested in, and it isn’t becoming a nation of laws. Maybe MALDEF should outsource this to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the NAACP, or the Reverend Al Sharpton. That way they can spend more time organizing their image awards ceremony and searching for a job for Alberto Gonzales.

  • 17 theKaiser // Jul 24, 2008 at 11:02 am

    <p>Don’t tell me you’re surprised Michaelr? For years, you’ve been saying these Latino based organizations that advocate public service for Latinos don’t do anything of the sort. That the shining example of the United Farm Workers movement is totally lost on these other Latino groups, and their real face is that of a full blown enterprise masquerading as a public service organization. Well now I have to totally agree with you. This hate crime has truly revealed the duplicity and incompetence of MALDEF, the self-serving egotism of NCLR, and the inept nature of the vast majority of members involved in the U.S. Congressional Hispanic Caucus. As a Latino, it’s disturbing to see one’s political ideals completely betrayed by these organizations because money and social status with WASPs have more importance than achieving political parity for the group as a whole. I hope there’s an afterlife for Luis Ramirez. So he can see the hypocrisy of these organizations for himself and at work.</p>

  • 18 Why Is It Never a Hate Crime? « T’ings ‘n Times // Jul 24, 2008 at 1:22 pm

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  • 19 jammer // Jul 24, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Perhaps MALDEF should pay the REV’s Sharpton and Jackson to go to Shanandoah and have them give a lesson to the vales nada de MALDEF on how to raise awareness when something or someone injures our community…., thats assuming that MALDEF considers themselves a part of our community.

  • 20 Michaelr // Jul 24, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    MALDEF is above that. They aren’t going to publicly engage in any racial rhetoric that will complicate their funding with Corporate America. That would require sweat, tears, and maybe a little blood. And that’s beneath them. MALDEF’s goal is to keep Latino America in its place. At the bottom of the food chain, socially and politically ignorant, and doing all the jobs WASPs refuse to do. Can you imagine John Trasvina out there in Shenandoah, PA, in his twenty-five hundred dollar Hickey-Freeman three button suit, getting his Church’s oxford tip leather shoes dirty? Of course not…he’d rather write a letter to his pen pal AG Michael Mukasey, who’s still wondering how this applies to the Bush Administration’s defense of waterboarding. Open your eyes and see what MALDEF is: A private legal enterprise masquerading as a public service group.

  • 21 theKaiser // Jul 24, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Maybe…our only avenue is to appeal to the NAACP, the Southern Poverty Law Center, or even the Urban League since MALDEF and NCLR are both so toothless and inept. Seeking justice in a letter to Bush’s boy at the Justice Department reeks of so much offense to the memory of all those Latinos who have been murdered because of their perceived threat to White America. And you wonder why the Latino community has only three national political leaders, poor educational values, and suffers dramatically from political ignorance and economic hardship? With public service organizations like MALDEF and NCLR working for us, it seems their goal is to continue keeping us politically ignorant, culturally isolated, so we can continue to remain the indentured servants of America.

  • 22 DoctorH // Jul 24, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    And I thought there was only a small group of us in the ThinkTank business who studied this self-cultural abuse phenomenon. Looks like Michaelr has been studying this also. Hopefully, these online conversations can educate Latinos that the majority of these Hispanic public service groups were self-serving organizations designed as an enterprise to solely pad their pockets and harbor influence for only personal and social reasons only. In the last thirty years, these so-called public service Hispanic groups have made a very minimum effort to serve the Latino populace as a whole. This is the phenomenon within our ethnic racial study groups. We have concluded that the Latin American mindset is culturally unique, since intra-cultural religious groups usually promote this type of intercultural anarchy, however since Latin America is primarily Roman Catholic the segregation happens at the social class level. Only the Cuban-Americans have managed to work cohesively, climb the social ladder, and manage politically despite being one of the smallest Latino groups. The Mexican-Americans, the largest Latino group have done the exact opposite. And this is one of the main reasons why.

    It’s finally wonderful to meet all three of you.

  • 23 JustAsk // Jul 25, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    I am not Latino (I’m African-American), but the African American community would back you.
    Black and Latino leaders (can’t really name any off the top of my head) have not worked together since King and Chavez. It would look really bad if we were the only ones to step in or stepped in even before a representative from your own community did. We do care. We just don’t want to overstep our bounds, but at this rate we will just have to take the heat because this will become a recurrent issue if those three boys get anything less than life in prison. This is really bad; this young man is dead and the boys’ lawyers are trying to get this put into juvenile court and they are really pushing that this was not a hate crime. As an African-American it hurts to hear about this just as much as it would if Mr. Ramirez was Black. No human being should have been treated the way he was and left in the condition he was (you should read the detailed account it is heartbreaking and enraging). The Latino community does need at least 2 people who will consistently step up and make noise when things like this happen. Trust me, the NAACP has its own issues and I am sure it would help you if you asked. This goes beyond some minimal difference of race: 1) Mr. Ramirez is a human being
    2) Latinos come in all colors including Black
    3) This will become a common occurrence if no one really speaks up.
    America needs to see that more than just Latinos care when Latinos are being unjustly treated.

  • 24 Chilling Audio Account of the Murder of Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez // Jul 25, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Chilling Audio Account of the Murder of Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez

  • 25 MALDEF // Jul 26, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    MALDEF has been investigating this case very closely and has been communicating with Luis Ramirez’s family in Pennsylvania and Mexico. We will be in Shenandoah early next week to hold a national press conference and a vigil to honor the life of Luis Ramirez, support the local community, and bring national attention to this and other hate crimes around the country.

  • 26 Michaelr // Jul 26, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Okay…let’s see how much public awareness MALDEF brings to this tragedy here. So far your organization has been batting zero in even displaying some sense of public compassion for what has been done here. Luis Ramirez has been dead more than eleven days now, and you’re finally sending someone out there? Writing a letter to the Attorney General of the United States doesn’t convey any real effort to display the human outrage of this hideous crime. Frankly, at this point you’ve already blown your opportunity to display to the world that you are a legitimate public service organization tasked with defending the civil rights of Latinos. The IRS should audit your organization for its non-profit status, and all the corporate entities funding your organization should reconsider their fiscal relationship with you.

  • 27 Luis R. // Aug 6, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    its amazing how this story still hasnt made headline news all around the country. i stumbled across this story by simply searching my name on and i saw that there was a story on this mexican that was murdered… i immediately thought that it was an old story but further research showed that this has not happened not a month ago. it is quite shocking to know how the media tends to lean on certain issues of stupidity and how they know that the majority of Americans dont really care about issues like this. i am of Mexican decent and first generation American. to this day i am surprised how the media does not pay much attention to not only Mexicans but minorities in general. Just to show you how this murder is being handled and covered throughout the country. I may be mistaken but tend to listen to NPR daily and hardly miss it and i also like to watch CNN every now and then but mostly watch the local news station here on the west coast of California in south bay area region because most of the news that large corporations own only do the news thats important to them or will catch the attention of typical white America. Things need to change with this, and i am a full supporter of Luis’s family.
    viva la raza

  • 28 JTR // Aug 13, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    If Latinos had killed an Anglo, you can be sure that Lou Dobbs would be screaming about it. As it is, White Americans really do not care that an “illegal” was murdered. Most think he deserved it. That’s the second tragedy of this crime. Those teens knew what they were doing, and need to be tried as adults. The law is the law, as anti-immigrants like to say. Too bad they never want that law applied with force to White criminals.

  • 29 Christine // Sep 6, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    There’s no justification for this murder. That aside, I think the author of this blog is biased and one-sided in his story. He was not there and there could be a possibility that Ramirez was not beaten just for “walking down the street”. Autopsy results found drugs and alcohol in his system…he’s not the angel that you portray him to be and although he did not deserve to die we don’t know if he had a history with these kids or was even egging them on intoxicated and all. Stick to the facts buddy. And let’s face it…he’s not going back to Mexico to start a business there and his white fiancee for sure isn’t going to either. We’re not that naive and going back to his country defies logic. He risked his life to come to this country to seek a better life.

  • 30 butala // Oct 26, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    how many AMERICANS are killed, murdered, raped, beaten etc… from illegal mexicans?! why dont you do something about that instead of bitchin about one dead mexican? you’re disgusting, you care more for an illegal person than you do for your own fellow citizens… and get your fuckin mexican groups outta Shendo, schuylkill county and the coal region… we dont want those racist spics here.

  • 31 It happened again — Another Latino immigrant killed by white teens! // Nov 13, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    […] the summer, we blogged about the tragic beating death of Luis Ramirez, an immigrant living in the Shenandoah region of Pennsylvania. So many bloggers and immigration […]

  • 32 Richard Santiago // Dec 1, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Hola, Congratulations on your site. We just launched our site and added your site as a link in our “Blog Roll”. Would you link our site or add our site to your Blog Roll as well. Thank You.

  • 33 Brad // May 2, 2009 at 5:31 am

    Its funny how you dont mention the fact he had a criminal record for assault on a 14 year old girl. the night of the fight this “family man” that you describe was out with his 15 year old girlfriend. and he was on drugs at the time of the attack maybe you should get your story straight.

  • 34 KLV // May 2, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Murder is MURDER. Those boys KILLED this man. They SHOULD BE PUNISHED, not let off the hook. They should have been convicted of AT LEAST AGGRAVATED ASSAULT. I hope that this case is sent to a higher court and that ALL of the boys involved are punished according to their crime- TAKING A LIFE.

    Does it really matter “who started it” or if this man was an “illegal”???? Is his LIFE less valuable??? the BOTTOM LINE is that we shouldn’t be killing each other!! in any circumstance. And I know you’ve all heard this saying before… two wrongs don’t make a right.

    So what if he was on drugs or drunk when he was BEAT TO DEATH (his brain-matter was exposed as a direct result of the BRUTAL BEATING not his drug or alcohol use (AND HEY BRAD- his brains were out of his skull because he was SAVAGELY BEAT, not because he had underage girlfriends as you allege; and by the way- since when are teenagers allowed execute people in the United States because of their “crimes”?).

    This is a gross failure of our legal system. I’m ashamed for our country.

    Sincerely saddened,

    An Irish-Italian- Norwegian-American FOR the rights of ALL

  • 35 Update on Luis Ramirez Case — Teens involved only convicted of simple assault // May 3, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    […] in July, we blogged about the beating death of Luis Ramirez in the Shenandoah region of Pennsylvania. Many wondered if […]

  • 36 moth in past life // May 4, 2009 at 8:06 pm



  • 37 DDee // May 8, 2009 at 3:38 am

    this is no ok,people need to get out there and pass some kind of law that protects people from being murdered like this!!!

  • 38 JUSTICE FOR ALL // Jun 24, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    If Latinos had killed an Anglo, you can be sure that Lou Dobbs would be screaming about it. As it is, White Americans really do not care that an “illegal” was murdered. Most think he deserved it. That’s the everyday tragedy of this crime. Those teens knew what they were doing, and need to be tried as adults. The law is the law, as anti-immigrants like to say. Too bad they never want that law applied with force to White criminals.

  • 39 JUSTICE FOR ALL // Jun 24, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    sadly I doubt the AG will do anything because they didn’t lift a finger for David Ritcheson, except to say that the scope of the national hate crime is outside their jurisdiction.

  • 40 JUSTICE FOR ALL // Jun 25, 2009 at 12:20 am

    The extent of Ramirez’s injuries, which had left his brain oozing from his skull, according to medical testimony, should have sufficed for a conviction other more than a fucking simple assault

  • 41 JUSTICE FOR ALL // Jun 25, 2009 at 12:29 am

    A representative of Ramirez’s family said the jurors got it wrong.

    “There’s been a complete failure of justice,” said Gladys Limon, staff attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, who attended the trial and informed Ramirez’s family of the verdict. “It’s just outrageous and very difficult to understand how any juror could have had reasonable doubt.”

    On Saturday the group’s interim president, Henry Solano, called on the Justice Department to “bring justice to the Ramirez family and send a strong message that violence targeting immigrants will not be tolerated.” Piekarsky’s attorney declined comment on the possibility of federal charges against the teens.

    Prosecutors had cast Ramirez as the victim of a gang of drunken white teens motivated by a dislike of their small coal town’s growing Hispanic population. They said he was killed by a kick to the head from Piekarsky after he’d been knocked unconscious by another teen.

  • 42 Sinz // Jul 7, 2009 at 1:11 am

    listen im the cousin of crystal dillman, i dont give a fuck who you are if you are illegal you dont belong here, i am not a rasict but i am a very proud patriot of America. I dont know the exact story of what went on but i do know this, i am of german italian and scottish decent, and my great grandparents came here from germany and italy legally. But thats not what i am trying to get at , what im trying to say is just because im white doesnt mean i think only mexicans should leave if theyre here ilegally. NO, im saying if your german, italian, mexican, russian, scottish, irish, etc. YOU SHOULD NOT BE HERE. unless approved by the americans.

  • 43 Kori K // Oct 26, 2009 at 2:29 am

    I wonder what would happen given the same situation -6 mexicans brutally beat up father of two children mmmm… shure they would get a simple assault charge to, NOT! they would prob ALL get 25 to life ..go figure. what a complete failure im sick to my stomach to see they only got a simple assault charge and aquitted on murder. illegal or not they killed a man,beat him up so bad his skull was fractured to the point were his brains were oozing out. I guess its ok to brutally beat up a” illegal” and get a slap on the hand..i mean they are here unlawfully why do we care if our high school football stars kill a mexican ,he should of stayed in mexico right ? What a disturbing crime . oh yea im norwegan/spanish (spain that know the that land mass next to France)

  • 44 9 Years in Prison for the Beating Death of Luis Ramirez // Feb 23, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    […] the two and a half years since the beating death of Luis Ramirez, we have witnessed more hate crimes against Latinos. Two other notables being the […]

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