Latinos express fear, point finger at Trump after mass shooting

WASHINGTON: Black men in the United States are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by the police than their white counterparts, according to a new study published Monday that quantified racial disparities in law enforcement violence. High-profile killings including those of Michael Brown, Charleena Lyles, Tamir Rice, Stephon Clark and many others have brought the issue sustained national attention in recent years, but a lack of official data had prevented accurate estimates about the extent of the problem.

The new study relied on data from Fatal Encounters, a journalist-led effort, as well as the National Vital Statistics System, to analyze the period 2013-2018. It found African American men and women, American Indian men and women, and Latino men all faced higher lifetime risks than their white peers.

"We think that there's ample evidence that police are a threat to public health in the United States," Frank Edwards at Rutgers University, the lead author of the paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said. "They're a lot more violent in communities of color than they are in white communities, and we need to take that seriously when we talk about police reform." Black men had the highest fatality risk, with the researchers estimating 1 fatality from police use of force for every 1,000 male births.

"Those numbers are high. The chances of you being killed by police in this country is higher than winning a lot of scratch off lottery games," said Edwards. The group was also 2.5 times more likely to be killed than white men, while black women were 1.4 times more likely to be killed than white women. American Indian men were approximately 1.5 times more likely to be killed than white men, and American Indian women were about 1.6 times more likely to be killed than white women.

Latina women were however 17.5 percent less likely to be killed than white women, though Latino men were about 1.4 times more likely to be killed than white men. Asian and Pacific Islanders had the lowest fatality risks. The risks were even more pronounced for young men: more than 1.5 percent of all deaths of black men between the ages of 20 and 24 were caused by police, dropping slightly to 1.3 percent between 25 and 29.

Police violence is therefore one of the leading causes of death for these demographics, just behind cancer. Edwards said that one of the study's main limitation was its reliance on media reporting, which likely resulted in a dramatic under reporting of numbers. "Cases have to be reported in the news to be recorded in the data systems we're using, and there's almost certainly cases that were not reported in the news," he said, adding there was "an obligation" for authorities to step in.

Latinos express fear
Meanwhile, US-based Latinos voiced their fears yesterday and pointed the finger squarely at President Donald Trump over a gun massacre that appears to be the deadliest hate crime ever committed against their community. Many said they were still coming to terms with the murders of 22 people on Saturday at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, by a man who traveled some 650 miles (1050 kilometers), reportedly to shoot as many Mexicans as possible.

Eight Mexican nationals are among those killed in what authorities are investigating as a case of possible domestic terrorism. At least 25 people were also wounded. For representatives of the Latino community, the mass shooting can be directly linked to the hateful rhetoric on minorities that has flourished since Trump's election in 2016.

"The president's rhetoric has fanned the flames of discord in this country," Angelica Salas, head of the Los Angeles-based Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) ssaid. "And as he prefers chaos, he most likely enjoys seeing conflict between communities rise." Dominique Diaz, a resident of El Paso, said the fact that the shooter - identified as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius and in custody - had traveled so far to target a mostly Hispanic region reflected mounting racism and anti-immigrant sentiment in the country. "It's pretty difficult to even comprehend," he said.

For Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the shooting in El Paso, which lies right across the border from Mexico and has a large majority Latino population, amounts to a declaration of war against Hispanics. "We have moved from being scapegoats to being targets of this kind of senseless racist violence," he told AFP. "This atrocious act of violence is a declaration of war against our community."

The tragedy in El Paso was one of three mass shootings in the United States in less than a week. Nine people were killed and dozens were injured in Dayton, Ohio, hours after the El Paso massacre. Authorities have not determined a motive for the attack. A week earlier, a 19-year-old gunman opened fire at a garlic festival in Gilroy, California, killing three people, including two children, and wounding a dozen others.

'Empowered white supremacists'
The gunman in Gilroy, who reportedly posted racist comments related to the festival on social media, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while the assailant in Dayton was gunned down by police. Luz Gallegos, of TODEC legal center, an immigrant rights organization in Southern California, said the shootings had sown fear among Hispanics who no longer feel safe. "The president has changed the law of the land and has empowered white supremacist groups… and given them the green light to act on their hate," Gallegos said. Salas said there was no doubt in her mind that people with racist tendencies today felt emboldened, thanks to Trump, to attack people of color or anyone considered different.
"Trepidation has been a much more common feeling since President Trump came to office," she said. Still, community leaders said they were encouraging Latinos to stand proud and not succumb to fear. "The question for me is how we are going to respond, and we are not going to do so the same way because when we have fear and hatred in our heart we cannot defend ourselves rationally," Alvarado said. "We need to remove the fear and step up and call the attacks as they are - evil and white supremacist."- Agencies