Saturday, August 10, 2019

Learning from History? The Texas Rangers' War on "Mexican Bandits" in the early 1900s


As the nation rebounds from the mass murders in El Paso, with the aim of the shooter on the "Hispaniv invasion," we should carefully consider the history of violence directed at persons of Mexican ancestry in the United States.  Richard Delgado has written about Latino lynchings, a largely unknown part of U.S. history.

Rosa Flores for CNN in a detailed story nicely summarizes some of the history of the Texas Rangers and the killings of "Mexican bandits," including the mass killings of persons of Mexican ancestry in what is known as La Mantanza in 1915.


As Flores summarizes in the story,

""(B)y 1916, hundreds of untrained Rangers patrolled the state, often reigning with terror and intimidation," according to the Bullock Texas State History Museum. 'They were assassins with a badge,' said historian Trinidad Gonzales, who counts a relative among those murdered during the era.

During this time in South Texas, anyone who looked `Mexican' was racially profiled as a crime suspect, said Monica Muñoz Martinez, a Brown University assistant professor who wrote about the period in her book, `The Injustice Never Leaves You.'

`That meant that whether you were an American citizen or an ethnic Mexican ... you didn't have the protection or the presumption of innocence until proven guilty,' she said. `When ethnic Mexicans had encounters with police, it was very common that people disappeared.'

Those who vanished often turned up dead, their bodies left to rot. The custom was used to intimidate, to incite terror and to discourage families from seeking investigations or prosecution, Martinez said. It all fueled a culture of impunity."


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