The incident has been flagged as a hate crime and the two perpetrators have been charged with two counts of felony as well as two misdemeanor counts.
A mother and daughter were recently assaulted while walking down a street in a predominantly Latinx neighborhood in Boston. Two women overheard the mother-daughter duo conversing in Spanish, which prompted them to punch, kick, and bite them. Following the terrible incident, prosecutors filed felony hate-crime charges against the pair, The New York Times reports. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident in recent times according to experts. The perpetrators, identified as Jenny Leigh Ennamorati and Stephanie M. Armstrong, will appear in court on March 9 to fight the charges. Meanwhile, the victim and her daughter hope justice will be served.
The incident took place on February 15 in Suffolk County, East Boston. It was caught on tape on security cameras owned by a nearby business. The victims, identified only as Ms. Vasquez and her 15-year-old daughter, were walking home from dinner when the assault took place. The perpetrators shouted, "This is America! Speak English!" According to Ms. Vasquez, a 46-year-old South American immigrant, she continues to have nightmares about the assault. "This was terrible — terrible," she said. Nobody expects to be walking down the street and attacked." Additionally, her daughter has had to wear a neck brace due to the injuries she sustained.
Last week, Ms. Vasquez and her attorneys filed charges against Ennamorati and Armstrong. The charges include two counts of felony, both for the violation of constitutional rights with bodily injury, as well as two misdemeanor counts, each of assault and battery. The incident has since sparked outrage across Boston, a city plagued by racial injustice. Rachael Rollins, the county district attorney, affirmed in a statement, "There is no place for hatred or bigotry in Suffolk County. The sense of entitlement and privilege these defendants must have felt to utter these hateful and racist words, and then to physically attack a mother and her child for laughing and speaking Spanish is outrageous and reprehensible."
While it is unclear if the perpetrators have acquired legal counsel, a police report indicates they had been drinking on the night in question. They told police officers they believed Vasquez and her daughter had been making fun of them in Spanish (a language that they cannot understand). This can make one feel uneasy, but it definitely does not warrant physical and verbal assault. Though Ms. Vasquez had spoken with police officers on the night of the attack, she sought the help of attorney Iván Espinoza-Madrigal when she realized how slow and bureaucratic the process was. Charges were filed by law enforcement officials only after she held a news conference in order to draw attention to her case.
Espinoza-Madrigal is the executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, a non-profit group that fights discrimination on behalf of people of color and immigrants. He stated, "Based on the details outlined in the initial police report that was done at the site of the incident, this should have been immediately flagged as a hate crime. The fact that it wasn’t, raises serious questions about the process that law enforcement is using to identify hate crimes and resolve them." Following the news conference, several other Latinx victims have reached out to Espinoza-Madrigal's organization in search of legal help.
Boston, a so-called sanctuary city, is home to more immigrants than ever before. Over the past several decades, the city's foreign-born population has sky-rocketed to more than 50 percent. Its Latinx population, in particular, has risen from one percent in 1970 to 58 percent in 2015. Unfortunately, these demographic facts have only made issues of racial injustice and hate crime more common. Therefore, the city's law enforcement must do all they can to protect and support minority communities. Ms. Vasquez, though terribly shaken by her experience, hopes her case will inspire more victims to come forward - even if they are undocumented. "No one," she asserted, "has the right to attack us."