The Hate Crime No One Is Talking About (OPINION)

Jun 13, 2023
6:58 AM

Via CBS News Texas

HOUSTON — On April 30, Aaron Martinez celebrated his 35th birthday. A day later he was brutally murdered by his neighbor who had been harassing them for years and saying he didn’t want Latinos living near him.

According to CBS News Texas, the neighbor, 30-year-old Trevor McEuen, began harassing Martinez almost as soon as he moved to the city of Forney more than two years ago.

He started to follow us…[saying] ‘We don’t want you Spanish people in the area,’” Aaron’s father Salvador Martinez told CBS News Texas.

McEuen was arrested after a tense standoff with police and is being held on murder charges on a $2 million bond. Meanwhile, calls are growing for hate crime charges to be filed. The family has told reporters and police that McEuen shot Martinez because he was Latino. Community members have been asking prosecutors to include the hate crime charges and last month protested during a bond reduction hearing.

Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas also issued a demand on his official website and on social media seeking hate crime charges.

The judge, however, denied the request.

Prosecutors at the bond hearing said McEuen shot Martinez a total of 17 times, in the back and forehead. An investigator also testified that after McEuen killed Martinez, he stole some of his property.

The judge has so far refused to allow for the hate crime charges.

The act of taking someone’s life because they were born in another country (or look like they were) is the result of unfettered hate growing in the United States.

Hate crimes against non-white people continue to rise across the country, including against Latinos, and these are inflamed by the xenophobic rhetoric being spread through various media platforms. From TikTok to legacy media, white supremacist talking points are being used to justify inhumanity toward migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and beyond. And the inhumanity —or worse— penetrates the lives of Latinos all across the country, whether they are documented or not.

People who hold xenophobic and racist beliefs don’t care if someone has “papers” when they come after immigrants. They are not interested in whether someone is an “illegal” when their perceived belief is that they are protecting the “white race” from the browning of the United States. They are oftentimes willing to commit violence against Latinos, as when street vendors are attacked in cities across the U.S. and anti-immigrant policies are implemented, like those that were recently signed into law in Florida, Kansas and Texas.

That’s the type of hatred that motivates a crime like the one McEuen is accused of committing.

Hate against immigrants is growing and it’s not just in white America. Xenophobia against people from the Global South is spreading in non-white communities too. Latinos who have been here more than a generation or two often show animus toward immigrants of color while saying nothing about white immigrants from Europe. This is a form of ethnonationalism that owes its existence to white supremacists like the Buffalo mass shooter among many others.

When it comes to Latinophobia in the United States, the hate is broad and is often bolstered using white nationalist or “Western chauvinist” talking points.

The hate news to stop, and it can start with seeking real justice for Aaron Martinez.


Arturo Domínquez is a first-generation Cuban American, anti-racist, journalist, and the publisher of The Antagonist magazine. Twitter: @ExtremeArturo