An Iowa Latina Girl’s Run-Over Highlights the Double Standards in the Definition of Hate Crimes in the U.S.

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Nicole Franklin, 42, is being held on $1 million bail. She faces an attempted murder charge after she allegedly struck a 14-year-old girl in a racially-motivated hit-and-run. (Source: Clive Police Department/CNN)

A 14-year-old girl was run over by a driver in Iowa, who assured investigators that the reason for her actions was “because [the girl] is Mexican,” adding a string of racist comments to try to defend herself.

According to Clive City Police Department Chief Michael Venema, the young woman, who suffered “significant injuries,” was on her way to school Dec. 9 when Nicole Marie Poole Franklin, 42, hit her with her car and ran away.

After asking neighbors to review their security camera records to identify the assailant, Poole Franklin was taken into custody at the Polk County Jail on assault charges, admitting to having “intentionally hit the girl because she was a Mexican.”

Currently, Poole Franklin is in jail on a bond of $1 million for charges of attempted murder, theft, violation of individual rights, consumption, intoxication and possession of marijuana, but not on hate crime charges.

Joe Henry, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens Council No. 307 in Des Moines, said “hate crimes and racist attacks have been on the rise in Iowa since President Donald Trump was elected in 2016,” according to the Des Moines Register.

“It’s terrible. I think this can all be tracked back to Trump,” Henry said. “People don’t just do this.”

Similarly, Henry recalled similar events during the last few months in the region, where there has been a resurgence of Confederate flags and Nazi swastikas.

Without going too far, one need only recall the fateful shooting in El Paso where the target was precisely the Latino community.

Even so, the attacks against Hispanics in the country are still not classified as “hate crimes,” defined by the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics Program as “a committed criminal offense, which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias(es) against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

According to FBI figures, in 2018, 13% of the incidents recorded as hate crimes were directed against the Latino community, which is the second-largest minority affected by the epidemic, behind the African-American community. Worse still, this rate of violence has increased by 48% between 2013 and 2018.

Despite being a growing violent trend, the double standard in the national discourse continues to keep Latinos more in the role of perpetrators than victims.

In this country, if an act of violence is committed by a person of color, it is called “terrorism,” but if it is committed by a white person, as was the case with Poole Franklin, it is called “attempted murder.”

From the point of view of representation in the political sphere, the paradoxes are even more worrying.

After El Paso, Katie Benner recalled in her column for the New York Times how the election of Barack Obama set off alarms about a possible rise in race-driven extremism, especially with statistics pointing to an economic decline in the country.

By then, conspiracy theories focused more on Islamic terrorism, while most of the mass shootings in the country were carried out by white men as is still the case today.

When Donald Trump kicked off his presidential campaign targeting Mexicans for being “bad hombres,” few went out to warn of an increase in extremism as with the previous president.

Almost two years after the inauguration of the Trump administration, half of the Latino population in the United States claimed to have “serious concerns about their place in America,” according to the Pew Research Center.

Today, in the face of a president who has done everything possible to be exonerated of any charges against him, and whose Department of Justice is anything but impartial, it is to be expected that a part of society would feel it has an equal right to political incorrectness, and to violence without consequences.