Choice of Hispanic Scapegoat Raises Concern in Small Iowa Town

March 11, 2003

Source: The Boston Globe

On March 11, 2003 The Boston Globe reported that "for a small town (Hull, Iowa), it was an unusual crime: a gas station robbed, two teens shot. The suspect? An unnamed Hispanic male... Suddenly, a ripple of fear rolled through the area's small but growing Latino community as longtime residents shook their heads and pointed fingers... But when the two white youths who were wounded confessed in court last month that they had invented the story after shooting themselves, both in the left shoulder, and taking $1,800 from the register, the accusers fell silent and the fearful got angry... While some residents say the youths' choice of scapegoat was random, others believe the incident points to deeper tensions between newcomers and natives in this rural community... 'Folks here have been used to knowing that their communities will pretty much stay the same and look the same. I think that's been comforting to folks,' said Jesse Villalobos, regional director of programming and public policy for the National Conference for Community and Justice, formerly known as the National Conference of Christians and Jews... 'For all of us, change is a struggle,' Villalobos said. 'In Iowa, folks are vulnerable to that because of the isolation from people of color.'"