LatinaLista — One day in October 2004 in Douglas, Arizona, Ronald Morales, his two young daughters and his father Arturo decided to cut through some land leased by rancher Roger Barnett while out hunting.
Barnett, with his AR-15 rifle in hand, stopped the group. From there, stories diverge.
Vigilante Arizona rancher Roger Barnett
(Source: Arizona Republic)
Morales claims that Barnett started spitting out racial slurs and pointing his gun and threatening the group.
Barnett denies the accusations while boasting to reporters that he has detained more than 100,000 migrants over a ten-year period.
Whether or not Barnett thought the group of Mexican-Americans was a group of illegally-arrived immigrants is not clear in the story being reported, but what is clear is that a jury thought there was enough credibility in Morales' story to award him a total of $210,000 but sending him home with $98,000 after finding him and his father partly responsible for the altercation.
As we face a growing list of towns where it is basically a danger to one's health and safety to "look" Latino, this court case may be the first of many yet to come.
Undoubtedly, there will arise a case where charges will be brought against the local law enforcement for assuming someone is an illegally arrived immigrant rather than a citizen.
At that time, we'll find just how far the rights of Latinos in this country will extend.
Today's situation with Latinos begs that the question be asked:
Is what is happening in more and more Hispanic-American communities paralleling what happened with Japanese-Americans in the 1940s?
Time will tell.