(*Post updated below.)
Suffolk County, N.Y., the suburban Long Island area where a gang of teenagers — most of them white — are accused of killing Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero last November, is described as a veritable hell for Latino immigrants in a new report to be released Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The civil rights organization sent a Spanish-speaking researcher to Suffolk County to interview over 70 Latino immigrants, plus local activists, small business owners and religious leaders. The picture that emerges in “Climate of Fear: Latino Immigrants in Suffolk County, N.Y.” is a disturbing one where some residents –especially white youngsters– assault or heckle immigrants on a regular basis; immigrants’ homes are the targets of attacks; police do nothing about the attacks while they harass Latinos over minor traffic violations or for standing on the street; and public officials fan the flames with over-the-top racism-tinged rhetoric.
This has been going on for about a decade, the report says.