A project of the Center for Community Change

Vigilante Rancher Found Liable for Attack on Immigrants

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Last week, a vigilante rancher operating along the Arizona-Mexico border was found liable for assaulting and intentionally inflicting emotional distress on a group of immigrants he found on public land.

The Mexican immigrants were found resting in a dry stream bed in Douglas, Arizona when they were accosted by  Roger Barnett who was armed with a gun and accompanied by a large dog.  Roger Barnett held the group captive at gunpoint, threatening that his dog would attack and that he would shoot anyone who tried to leave.  During the encounter, Barnett kicked one woman as she was lying, unarmed, on the ground.

Barnett must now pay $73,352 in damages to the victims.

Our friends at MALDEF (the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) backed the lawsuit filed by the migrants in this case. “This verdict in favor of the plaintiffs sends a strong message condemning vigilante violence against immigrants,” MALDEF staff attorney Marisol Perez said in a statement.

This ruling clearly shows that vigilante attacks against immigrants will not be tolerated, and rightly so. Attacks on immigrants, especially Latinos, have escalated to record numbers in recent years. The rise in hate crimes and vigilante violence directly correlates to the hate speech and dehumanization of migrants that has inundated mainstream media from Hate Groups like FAIR, NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies.

FAIR, an anti-immigrant hate group, even touted last week’s ruling in this case as a “victory”. Not only did the back the violent attacks perpetrated by Barnett, but they ignored the reality of the sentence and decided this was somehow a victory for the xenophobic nativists who are hunting anyone with brown skin on the border. Way to go FAIR.

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