Latino Lynchings, Police Brutality, And the Challenges of Minority Law-Enforcement.

Cedar Attanasio. “Latino Lynchings, Police Brutality, And the Challenges of Minority Law-Enforcement.”
Latin Times, Feb. 10, 2015


“As with blacks, Latino lynching went on with the knowledge and, in some cases, active participation of Anglo law enforcement authorities,” writes Delgado.

In fact, law enforcement were behind many of the lynchings that Gonzales-Day documents in his book. Police were often angry, he says, when they knew they didn’t have the evidence to convict someone, or when suspects were indirectly involved in the crime wouldn’t be eligible for the death penalty.

“In that particular [1920 Santa Rosa] case, there are some bad guys,” said Gonzales-Day. One of the Anglos, George Boyd, had shot multiple police officers. Angered at the deaths of their fallen brothers, police formed the core of a “vigilance committee.” Charles Valento, a Mexican American probably hadn’t been involved, let alone done the actual killing.

“So they said, ‘one of the 3 guys had done the shooting. Other bought the gun, other bought the bullets,’” said Gonzales-Day. “By 1920 the lynching has become a way to mask violence,” and to circumvent the judicial process. There’s a myth, says the professor, there mobs were spontaneous. “But they weren’t,” and in many cases like the one in Santa Rosa, “the police is the mob. Or there is no mob.”

“In our history in Texas, the Texas Rangers were no different than the police are today,” said Máximo. “It is equivalent: the Texas Rangers were just doing their jobs, that these people needed to be ‘corrected.’ back then our [Latino] people had more connection to the indians, which were seen as ‘ungodly.’” The Texas Rangers, now an official state law enforcement agency, were an informal posse in the 19th century and a feeder organization for many of the “vigilance committees” and lynch mobs in California.

According to Professor Gonzales-Day’s book, Latinos were the largest group of lynching victims. Latinos represented 50% of all extrajudicial lynchings in California between 1850-1935, despite accounting for only around 20% of legal executions during the same period. But Latinos weren’t the only victims. Other groups that suffered heavily to lynching were Native Americans, as well as Chinese and other immigrants.

Also, Latinos sometimes participated in mixed-race mobs that lynched Asian and Mexican immigrants. More often than not these Latinos were more established, second, third, or fourth generation Californians. “They were afraid of what today would be the equivalent of undocumented immigrants,” said Gonzales-Day.

Source: Latin Times