Hate Crime Acquittal Becomes Hispanic Rallying Cry

The New York Times, 5/12/2009

Teenagers, a small town and alcohol. Tension between whites and a growing Hispanic population. Ethnic slurs, punches and kicks. A dead illegal immigrant from Mexico.

The acquittal of white Pennsylvania teenagers of all serious charges this month in the death of Luis Ramirez has become a rallying cry for justice among Hispanics who feel increasingly under attack here in America. It also has exposed difficulties in enforcing hate crime laws designed to keep minorities from becoming targets.

Civil rights groups and elected officials were planning a news conference Wednesday to urge the Justice Department to prosecute the Ramirez case after the state-court acquittals, and to renew calls for passage of a federal hate crimes bill that would expand enforcement and extend protection to gay and transgender individuals.

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