Repression and resistance: The lynching of persons of mexican origin in the United States, 1848-1928

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On November 16, 1928, four masked men tore into a hospital in Farmington, New Mexico, and abducted one of the patients as he lay dying in bed.1 The kidnappers drove to an abandoned farmhouse on the outskirts of the city where they tied a rope around the neck of their captive and hanged him from a locust tree (La Prensa [San Antonio], November 17, 1928, p. 1; Farmington Times Hustler, November 16, 1928, p. 1). (For a full account of the lynching, see Carrigan and Webb, 2005.) The dead man, Rafael Benavides, had been admitted to the hospital with a serious gun wound less than twenty-four hours earlier. His wound was inflicted by a sheriff ‘s posse pursuing him after he assaulted a farmer’s wife. According to one newspaper, “the fiendishness and brutality of his acts were such that the postal laws will not permit us to print them”; (Farmington Times Hustler, November 23, 1928, p. 1). The abduction and execution of Benavides therefore elicited the approval of many local citizens relieved at the removal from their community of this dangerous menace. In the frank opinion of one newspaper editorial, “the degenerate Mexican got exactly what was coming to him”; (Durango Herald Democrat [Colorado], quoted in Farmington Times Hustler, November 28, 1928, p. 9). Others were nonetheless more circumspect in their assessment of the lynching. While they did not dispute the guilt of the dead man, they contended that his due punishment could be determined only by a court of law. The Santa Fe New Mexican responded to the precipitous action of the mob by stating that it would “take San Juan County a long time to live down the bad name received by this lawless act”; (quoted in Farmington Times Hustler, November 28, 1928, p. 9). Such an opinion reflected a new racial sensibility among many Anglos in the Southwest. For decades, lynch mobs terrorized persons of Mexican origin or descent2 without reprisal from the wider community. The more critical attitude taken by the Anglo establishment created a political climate less tolerant of extralegal violence. Although acts of lawlessness continued, Rafael Benavides became the last Mexican in the United States to be lynched in such blatant defiance of the judicial system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHow the United States Racializes Latinos
Subtitle of host publicationWhite Hegemony and Its Consequences
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781317258032
ISBN (Print)9781594515989
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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