10/18/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Espada: Assaults are 'Hate Crimes'


This afternoon, State Senator Pedro Espada, Assemblyman Nelson Castro, and others, held a press conference on Walton Avenue at East 182nd Street, to bring attention to a spate of vicious assaults in the neighborhood these past few days.

Police say a group of men of Dominican origin have been deliberately targeting Mexican immigrants. Last Saturday, the group allegedly shouted anti-Mexican slurs at two men before attacking them. Another man was assaulted on Saturday in similar circumstances, and another on Sunday. At least one of the victims was stabbed.

"Obviously these are hate crimes we are dealing with," Espada said. "There is a tidal wave of hate crime against immigrants in the Bronx, in New York City, in New York State, and throughout this country."

Espada, the Senate's majority leader, said he offering a $1,000 reward - "my personal money" - to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved. He also talked about setting up a "task force" involving clergy, community leaders, youth, and police, to help correct the perception some people have of immigrants.

"Our Mexican brothers and sisters have earned the right to be respected and to be protected in their homes and in their community," added Rev. Katrina Foster, pastor of nearby Fordham Evangelical Lutheran Church. "They have come here to contribute and not to take away."

Angelos Cabrera of the Mexican-American Students' Alliance (MASA) said it was important the people reporting crime to the police, and that they shouldn't be afraid of doing so, even if they're undocumented.

PHOTO: Pedro Espada (talking) and Nelson Castro (left)

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