Skip to Content
US & World

Attacks against Latinos in the U.S. didn’t stop after El Paso’s shooting

Hit and run victim Natalie Miranda.

EL PASO, Texas — As Natalia Miranda lay on the ground, she didn’t know how she got there. Her body was severely swollen and her clothes were torn and dirty.

A SUV ran over the 14-year-old a few weeks before Christmas last year. She says she was walking the two blocks between her home in Clive, Iowa, and her junior high school to watch a basketball game.

Neither Natalia or her parents could make sense of what happened but soon, police told the family that it wasn’t an accident. The driver, a White woman, admitted that she intentionally hit the teen, police said.

“Her intention was clear … because she looks Mexican,” Natalia’s father, Cesar Miranda told CNN, referring to what the driver told police.

In the year following the mass shooting at the Cielo Vista Walmart store in El Paso, multiple attacks targeting Latinos and immigrants have taken place across the United States.

The shooting in El Paso is considered one of the nation’s deadliest shootings and the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern US history. A gunman opened fire killing 23 people and injuring nearly two dozen others.

Before the massacre, the suspected gunman — now indicted on more than 90 federal and state charges, including hate crimes — published a racist screed railing against Latinos and immigrants, authorities said. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

It was a terrifying escalation to the ongoing racist rhetoric and violence against Latinos in the country. About a year before the shooting, half of Latinos said they had concerns about their situation in America and were worried that a family member or close friend could be deported, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. That sentiment didn’t vanish in the aftermath of the shooting.

The driver accused of hitting Natalia, Nicole Poole Franklin, 42, was arrested in December and remains jailed with no bond. She faces two charges of attempted murder and one count of assault-violation of individual rights, which is a hate crime. The charges stem from three separate incidents one involving Natalia, one involving a Black teen and one related to allegedly yelling racial slurs at a gas station attendant, according to jail and court records, and police reports.

The case remains pending in Polk County court. CNN has reached out to the public defender representing Poole Franklin but has not heard back.

Since the incident, Natalia and her family said they have constantly battled with anger, fear, and the teen’s mental and physical recovery.

Natalia has dreamed more than once that the same SUV returns and “runs over in her upper part of her body like it’s going to finish her up,” said Dalila Alonso Miranda, the teen’s mother.

While the state case remains pending, Natalia’s family is calling for federal hate crimes charges to be brought against Poole Franklin.

“If you don’t charge someone with a hate crime when they tell you that that’s why they did it, then when will you?” Alonso Miranda said.

More hate crimes reported, less federal prosecutions

Hate crimes targeting Latinos have increased every year since 2015, according to the 2018 FBI Hate Crime Statistics report, the latest data available.

In 2018, there were 485 incidents and 671 victims in anti-Hispanic or Latino incidents, compared with 427 incidents and 552 victims in the previous year, the agency’s data shows. Comparing 2018 to 2015, when there were 299 incidents and 392 victims, the number of incidents rose 62%.

Bias against Black or African American people overwhelmingly comprises the largest category of reported hate crime offenses pertaining to race, according to the FBI data.

Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at the California State University, San Bernadino, says he attributes the increase to a national shift in focus from Muslims to Latinos. The FBI data in 2018 shows 270 incidents were reported against Muslims and Arab-Americans, the fewest since 2015.

In the past few months, more incidents involving Asians and Black people were reported than in the previous two years, Levin says, but it doesn’t mean the anti-Latino sentiment is gone.

“We have ticking time bombs across the country and we don’t know who they’re going to hit exactly but we know who they hate,” Levin said.

But even if hate crimes are actually reported, proving that a person committed a crime motivated by another person’s race, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability can be very difficult, said Phyllis Gerstenfeld, a professor and chair of the criminal justice department at California State University, Stanislaus.

There have been few federal hate crimes prosecuted since 2012, according to an analysis by Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, an organization at Syracuse University that tracks and collects data about the federal government.

Gerstenfeld, whose primary field of study is hate crimes, said there could be more incidents that remain unknown to authorities because victims don’t feel comfortable reporting them.

“Hate crimes in general don’t get reported to the police very often, but particularly with some communities of victims. Latinos, especially if they’re undocumented or they have poor relationships with police, are not going to report them,” Gerstenfeld told CNN.

‘We are in America, we don’t speak Spanish here’

A mother says she couldn’t stop two white women in East Boston from assaulting her and her 15-year-old daughter in February. The women “physically attacked them because they were laughing and speaking to each other in Spanish,” the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office said.

The mother, Vasquez, said that when one of the women approached her, she asked her daughter to translate and the woman began yelling at them and assaulted them. CNN is identifying the mother by her last name for privacy and security concerns.

“She yelled, ‘We are in America, we don’t speak Spanish here, speak English!,'” Vasquez, 46, told CNN. The mother did not identify which one of the two women yelled at her.

During the altercation, Vasquez said she was bitten on her right thumb and hit multiple times while her daughter was punched in the face multiple times and pulled by the hair.

Two women — Jenny Leigh Ennamorati, 25, and Stephanie Armstrong, 25 — were each charged with two counts of violating constitutional rights with bodily injury and two counts of assault and battery charges, the district attorney said. Both cases have probable cause hearings scheduled for September.

They told police they heard the Vasquezes laughing and speaking Spanish and believed they were making fun of them, according to a police report, which redacted the women’s names but they were later released by prosecutors.

CNN has reached out to an attorney representing Ennamorati but has not heard back. William J. Barabino, an attorney representing Armstrong, said video recorded by a bystander and the “accuser statement” shows that his client “never laid a hand on anyone.”

“Eventually, she went over to the physical dispute and can be seen extending both arms in an effort for all to calm down. That isn’t a crime and we expect that a judge or a jury will eventually reach that same conclusion,” Barabino said in a statement emailed to CNN.

The incident has haunted Vasquez since then. For weeks, she says her daughter would wake up scared and crying at night and constantly asked why anyone would treat them like that. They have been mostly at home since the incident because of the pandemic and her daughter has been talking with a counselor but Vasquez is concerned about how she would interacts with more people when classes resume.

Fear may have kept many other victims silent, Vasquez says, but she can’t let hatred and bigotry go unpunished. Even after the Vietnamese restaurant where she worked closed due to the pandemic and she struggled to find another job for nearly four months, she hasn’t stop talking with others about the incident and working with her attorneys.

“There’s Asians, Latinos, everything in this country and still others haven’t understood that we deserve the same respect than people who were born in America,” Vasquez said.

Crime / El Paso / News / Top Stories




  1. With the orange buffoon continually fanning the flames of intolerance with his un-American anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric we cannot expect any other outcome. Sadly, we still have many people in the country that are so weak minded that still listen to the orange buffoon and his ignorance.

      1. Your comments are Laughable, sir. Your president, I say YOUR president because I do not agree with his consistent attacks on Hispanic, Black, and Asians that is non stop. From Charlottesville’s comments of Unite The Right Facists being Fine people, to his recent comments to People in the Suburbs that they won’t have to worry about low income minorities bringing down their House’s values down because he will invalidate Obama era Fair Housing laws, he will stop at nothing to throw red meat to people like you. America’s presidents care for ALL Americans, not just the ones that Think like him.

          1. Albertwannabe, and more Whites kill Whites and Blacks kill Blacks. What the hell is your point?

        1. Lies. He hasn’t attacked any race. He does attack peoples actions, no matter their race, creed, color, etc. It’s been proven that the whole “Fine People” statement was NOT what the media made it out to be. As far as the Fair Housing issue goes, he’s right. I don’t want my home value decreased because some low-income family moves in next door and that includes if they are WHITE. Yes white people live in poverty too despite what you liberals want us to believe. Obama did not care about ALL Americans. He did nothing to improve my life. In fact, his policies made my life far worse. He wanted to destroy this country and almost did. Trump has fixed almost all of it.

    1. Hey moron. Over 65% of Americans are against illegal immigration and it has nothing to do with race. What is un-American is you leftists pulling the race card and spreading false information aka propaganda in the form of political talking points.

  2. I am eternally glad that I live in El Paso, a Mexican-AMerican majority Texas city where Racist Bigots are too few to mention. It took a Psycho killer from out of town to bring Racism and Bigotry in the form of mass murder to our peaceful city, but we are a strong and resilient people who will not be cowed by haters who follow their president’s example of Hate and Intolerance for others who don’t look, or think like him.

    1. So says the worst intolerant bigot and racist in town. The psycho killer was brought here by pro illegal immigration rhetoric from Beto and Escobar not the President. Recall removing the walls/barriers, open borders, no deportations and giving free medical insurance to illegals.

  3. Granted, there is some white crime against minorities, but nothing compared to minority on minority. Hispanic on Hispanic especially here in El Paso, because as someone pointed out, Hispanics make up 83% of the population!

    1. It’s the other way around dude. When I was in High School it was the Cholo’s and Chola’s who harassed EVERY white kid in my school. Those Chola b**ches were scary as hell. You’re the biggest racist out there so you wouldn’t notice that.

    2. Not this white person. I love El Paso, the culture, and the people. Grew up in hispanic neighborhoods and went to high school in a hispanic majority high school. Never had the slightest problem with my hispanic schoolmates, neighbors, and very close friends. White people who have problems with latinos will have BIG problems with me.

  4. Never been a racist. Love all respectful people. But when you read posts from your buddies here: “floater” when an immigrant drowns, “one less Democrat” when a Hispanic dies, “Darwin award” when a Hispanic dies in an auto accident, etc etc… all re whites making those comments.

    1. And of course the corpse alberto NEVER says anything deragotive about whites right? Just about every shitty word you say alberto is deragotive and racist. About cops, about whites, about the President. Hypocrite is not enough big word to describe your ugliness. The same with uxcrement who is eternally grateful he isn’t white. That’s because he wouldn’t qualify. All you demoKKKrats disregard the largest homey sides (homicides) in the US are black on black. But that is never mentioned by you morons.

    2. Wow. You are clearly a racist. You’re hatred for ALL white people is displayed here EVERY DAY. The fact you would say you are not racist just shows how delusional you are. Since Biden can’t make a coherent decision maybe you could be his VP. You 2 would make a great pair. Just think of it. The democrat poster children, “The crazy, corrupt, criminal pedophile and the brain dead racist bring you the New World Order, Globalist America.” The essence of the democratic party!

  5. Poor White people. The have been the victims of Racism ever since they crossed the Atlantic. They have been enslaved in the South, made to ride in the back of the bus, sent to minority schools where they have suffered in the hands of black an brown meanies. They have been denied proper housing by Racist minorities who don’t want white people bringing down house prices. They have been beaten in the streets because they were fighting for civil rights for white people. Oh, how they have suffered as victims of vile Black, Brown and Asian Racists. Oh, the Humanity!

  6. If you vote for the Racist Trump then you are one yourself, period. Republican Voters against Trump(RVAT), and the Lincoln Project–wealthy Republican anti Trump voters –are running a very successful media campaign against the Racist, Bigoted, Sociopath, Idiot in Chief Trump. So you are telling us that they, too, are Racist? You idiots on this site throw the word Racist around like it is going out of style. But as you can see, Deeds are stronger than words, and your imbecile de facto president has already done plenty to ruin our great country with his Racist and equally imbecile Deeds. #DUMPTHETRUMP2020! #BIDEN/HARRIS2020. DRAIN THE TRUMP SWAMP!

    1. Thanks to Millions of Republican anti Trump voters, that will never happen. They would rather have Mr. Biden as president for now, just to get rid of Trump. Maybe they think a real Republican contender will come along in 4 years to challenge the Democratic presidency of Mr. Biden. But for now, Trump has got to go!

Leave a Reply