LatinaLista — You don’t have to know Spanish to understand the headlines appearing in Chilean and Spanish-language newspapers regarding the senseless murders in Florida of two young Chilean students and the wounding of three others.
“Gringo loco” is how the Spanish press describes the killer Dannie Roy Baker. His picture fits the caption.
Murdered Chilean student Racine Balbontin-Aragondona with her boyfriend Fransisco Javier Cofre-Fernande who is in critical condition.
(Source: Terra – Facebook)
By all accounts, the 14 students who were in Unit 12 at the time Baker began shooting through a window of the apartment were just 14 friends, far from home, gathered together at a friend’s place to enjoy each other’s company like college students the world over do.
According to law enforcement, the group was not loud nor were there any complaints filed by neighbors of excessive or disruptive partying. So, it was something else that made Baker snap and carry his rifle across the apartment complex to target this group of young people, killing two — Nicolas Pablo Corp-Torres age 23 and Racine Balbontin-Aragondona, age 22 and wounding three — Fransisco Javier Cofre-Fernande, age 25, in critical condition; Sebastian Mauricio Arizaga-Suarez, age 27 and David Alonzo Bilbao-Meza, age 21.
Law enforcement officials who came upon the scene were struck by the brutality of the senseless murders:
“It’s a tragedy of truly severe, severe proportions,” said Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson, who added that the residents of Unit 12 had never been in trouble with the Sheriff’s Office. “They were totally harmless and victims in the true sense of the word.”
Those that knew Baker said that while he never illustrated a violent side, he used to run a music ministry, he was known to be eccentric. What really seemed to get under his skin were national political issues.
In fact, employees at the Walton County Republican Headquarters where Baker had volunteered during the 2004 presidential election, recently had to tell him to stop emailing “radical” and “inappropriate” emails and to stay away from them.
Baker complied but he obviously took to heart the extreme conservative rhetoric that labels all immigrants as undocumented and a threat to U.S. society.
There is no doubt that Dannie Roy Baker is a disturbed individual but disturbed individuals who act out in such an extreme way do so as a reaction to what they perceive to be a “call to action.”
Murdered Chilean student Nicolas Pablo Corp-Torres
(Source: Terra – Facebook)
Baker’s ties to the Republican Party means he was absorbing the harsh campaign rhetoric targeting illegal immigration. That much is obvious when members of the local Republican Executive Committee who knew him said that his erratic emails had to do with “national political issues.”
Yet, while his actions would seem to indicate he was delusional, his behavior seems to indicate he knew what he was doing — he returned to his apartment and waited for police to arrive and he surrendered without putting up a fight.
So, was it just a coincidence that he targeted an apartment full of Latinos who were most probably speaking Spanish?
I don’t think so.
Neighbor Crystal Lynn says “he did come up to me one time and asked me if I was ready for the revolution to begin and if I had any immigrant in my house to get them out.”
Those in the Republican Party and extreme right who have not tempered their rhetoric against illegal immigration have created an environment in this country where impressionable young boys and eccentric old men think it’s OK to “hunt” Latino immigrants.
The trouble is that just from someone speaking Spanish or having a particular look are not indicators of someone’s citizenship status or legality of their presence in the country.
People like Lou Dobbs or Rush Limbaugh and those organizations against undocumented immigration who are afforded the privilege of having their own platforms on TV , radio or as newspaper sources have not exercised the kind of self-censorship necessary to prevent inciting people to commit violence against Latinos.
Nor have they truthfully and fully educated their viewers, readers and listeners on the issue of illegal immigration.
It’s no wonder that the Dannie Roy Bakers of this country will feel empowered and justified to carry out these kinds of assaults.
It’s not only time to reign in the rhetoric but also for the FCC to start monitoring what is released on the public airwaves and penalize those programs that would incite violence against undocumented immigrants.
For too long, this kind of hate talk has smugly hidden under the guise of free speech. In other countries, we would call it propaganda.