Our VoiceImmigrationNews & Politics

Cross-Post: Killing of Arizona Latinos Blamed on Hate and SB 1070

Imagine 2050 Staff • Jul 03, 2010

Posted on Change.org’s immigrant rights blog by Alex DiBranco on June 25, 2010:

According to Juan Varela’s family, SB 1070 isn’t just a civil rights travesty: it has also caused the death of at least one Arizona Latino.

Varela was shot dead after an argument with a white neighbor, Gary Thomas Kelley, over Arizona’s harsh new anti-immigrant law. Despite the fact that Varela was a U.S. citizen — in fact, he was a third generation American — Kelley allegedly yelled before shooting Varela, “You fucking wetback! Go back to Mexico!” Back? When he was born in America? Varela’s family blames the extreme anti-immigrant, anti-Latino sentiment caused by fear mongering around the passage of SB 1070 for the death of their loved one.

The Phoenix Police Department has finally decided to charge Kelley with a hate crime, after initially refusing to do so, raising the ire of Varela’s family and friends. That the crime occurred in Maricopa County, home to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who spends so much time chasing down undocumented immigrants he doesn’t have time to prosecute violent crimes, gives both a sense of the extreme anti-immigrant climate and why law enforcement would be loathe to admit to what appears to be an obvious anti-Latino hate crime. I don’t know about you, but I think shooting a person after shouting a xenophobic racial slur has hate crime written all over it, and I’m glad that the Maricopa County Attorney General’s Office now agrees.

Varela’s murder isn’t the only one with links to SB 1070. Two other Latino men were killed near the Arizona border earlier this month, and while some reports have tried to pin the crime on drug smugglers, there are two additional details to the story that suggest otherwise.

The first: Timing. The murders occurred on the heels of an anti-immigrant rally in which Barbara Coe, leader of the hate group California Coalition for Immigration, urged followers to “lock and load.” The second: One of the murdered men was found with a bloodstained birth certificate clutched in his hand. That should send up huge red flags: Did drug smugglers care about that birth certificate? Or did anti-immigrant vigilantes spurred on by the unconstitutional provisions of SB 1070 request “papers, please” and then open fire?

Continue reading this article at http://immigration.change.org/blog/view/killing_of_arizona_latinos_blamed_on_hate_and_sb_1070

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