The Often-Forgotten History of Anti-Mexican Violence and Lynching

The Often-Forgotten History of Anti-Mexican Lynching
Corbis

A new segment of Latino USA is exploring the bloody history of anti-Mexican violence in the Southwest.

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Bill Carrigan, a history professor at Rowan University in New Jersey, spoke with host Maria Hinojosa about the lynching of Mexicans like Francisco Arias and José Chamales. While these murders were motivated by racism and greed for land, Carrigan says that the Anglo-Americans who killed them and ordered their deaths claimed that it was due to Mexicans’ lawlessness.

“What happened was that very quickly this became an excuse, a justification by mobs, they knew that if they said this it resonated with people and they could get away with their unstated objectives,” says Carrigan. These objectives included the deceased’s ranchlands or mining claim.

According to the programming, the murders went on with impunity until the 1920s, when the U.S. and Mexican governments worked together to prosecute a Texas sheriff who killed a Mexican man and his two sons.

“It’s not that violence against Mexicans ended, it continued,” says Carrigan, “but it now had to take a different kind of form, it couldn’t be the same public execution of Mexicans. It had to be secret, cover-of-night. It was a transformative moment.”

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Learn more about the U.S. history your high school and college classrooms left out over at Latino USA.