Washington, DC—Calling it “an outrageous and horrifying crime,” Janet Murguía, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, condemned the fatal beating of a Long Island man on Saturday night. Marcello Lucero, a 37-year-old man from Patchogue, Long Island, was the apparent victim of a hate crime by seven teenagers who were arraigned today for his murder. According to Newsday, Suffolk County police say that the defendants “simply wanted to beat up someone who looked Hispanic.”

Words have consequences. And hateful words have hateful consequences...Lives are literally in the balance. Janet Murguia
“While we are grateful that the authorities have taken swift action,” Murguía said, “it is important for all Americans to understand that this is part of an alarming trend taking place nationwide.” FBI hate crime statistics show that attacks against Latinos have been on the rise over the past four years. Similarly, the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported that the number of hate groups targeting Latinos and immigrants has also increased over the same period.

Murguía was particularly upset over the age of the alleged attackers. “That hate has trickled down to a new generation is very disturbing,” she said. Murguía blamed the growing climate of hate surrounding the immigration debate as part of the cause. “Words have consequences," she said. “And hateful words have hateful consequences. For too long hate groups and hate speech have dominated the national debate on immigrants, mischaracterizing all Latinos and the institutions that serve them in the process. Lives are literally in the balance.”

Over the past year, NCLR has vigorously sought to expose the growing presence of hate groups and hate speech in the immigration debate, and their relationship to the rise in hate crimes. Early this year, the organization launched WeCanStopTheHate as part of its campaign to counter this alarming trend.

Murguía said that she and NCLR extend their condolences to Mr. Lucero’s family and community, and they call on all Americans to stand up to the presence of hate groups and extremists on the airwaves and in our communities.
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