DENVER — From Colorado Proud Boys to online white supremacy personalities, some Hispanics and Latinos are using their ethnicity to try to cloak bigoted behavior, experts warn.
“There is an intentional recruitment of people of color by white nationalist leadership into its alt-right coalition in order to defend itself from the very real charges of racism,” said Eric Ward of the nonprofit Western States Center.
Ward has been involved in civil rights over the past 30 years and is considered a national expert on extremist groups and their effort to divide societies. He's also a senior fellow with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremism.
In an interview with 9NEWS, Ward said extremist groups exploit the fear of changing demographics in communities and economic pressure, which can attract conservative Latinos and Hispanics.
“Many Latinos in the United States identify as white, not with their indigenous or Afro roots. And many of them, because of their conservative politics, believe that the white nationalist movement aligns with their values,” Ward said.
>Watch the interview below.
Recently, the Afro-Cuban leader of the far-right group Proud Boys was arrested and indicted for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the nation’s Capitol. Enrique Tarrio also served time in jail for burning a Black Lives Matter banner.
Local Proud Boys, who were actively protesting against LGBTQ events in Denver, have also used their Hispanic and Latino ethnicities to try to claim they’re not discriminatory.
“I’m a carpenter and am Latino,” former Colorado Proud Boy Louie Huey said on Twitter in 2020. “I hang out with illegals all day and speak Spanish, yet somehow I’m a racist.”
Axios cites national online personality Nick Fuentes as an example of a white supremacist with a Hispanic heritage and listed cases in which Latinos have been accused of hate crimes.
Ward indicated Latino and Hispanic communities must work hard to send the message that violent rhetoric from these groups has inspired violence against people of color, such as the mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart in 2019.
“The anti-immigrant movement and the white nationalist movement in this country have a very thin barrier between the two,” Ward said. “The Latino community cannot believe the hype. The White Nationalist Movement seeks to remove them from the United States of America in their ethnic cleansing plans.”
If you have information related to this story or would like to send a news tip, you can email email@example.com.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Investigations from 9Wants to Know