TIFTON -- The news Wednesday that three people are charged in the gruesome murders of six Hispanic immigrants here brings some relief to local Hispanics who haven't slept well since last Friday's events. But many say that issues raised by the murders have not been addressed.

Father Alfonso Guitterez of Our Divine Saviour Catholic Church told reporters Wednesday that the arrests are important.

"I hope that these incarcerations are the first step that authorities will use to look for different ways to help the Hispanic community," Guitterez said.

Guitterez said he hopes that positive communication among all residents, including African Americans, will improve out of this negative chain of events.

Women and children who weren't physically injured in the violence that led to the deaths of six men are nevertheless traumatized and he and others in the community are concerned that psychological trauma is not being addressed, Guitterez said.

"Unfortunately, none of the psychiatric community speaks Spanish," he said.

Luz Marti, organizer of La Fiesta Del Pueblo and a state advocate for the Hispanic community, said she has seen the children affected by the tragedies.

"We are asking for some psychological help with it," she said. "We are hoping that the schools will help us with it, with both the children and adults. I understand there were at least five children in the homes and aware of what was going on."

Marti said she is disappointed and believes that landlords who rent the mobile homes in the parks where the murders occurred have not stepped up to provide basic safety measures, such as door knobs that lock.

"I don't think there has been an effort to improve the conditions of the homes," she said. "Some don't have door knobs or glass panes on the windows."

Marti said some residents of primarily Hispanic mobile home parks pay up to $200 a week to live in "subhuman" conditions.

"I can say without a doubt that these people (Hispanics) are responsible, hard workers who pay their bills," Marti said. "I feel like they are being charged too much for what they live in and the residents are afraid to complain."

Marti said groups have encouraged some of the Hispanics to seek public housing but the issue of being undocumented and not having legal status have halted those efforts at times.

She said she has also contacted local bankers and gotten information on what is necessary to help Hispanics open checking and savings accounts to keep from carrying too much cash.

"We have to provide education to these people," she said.

Marti said she has been talking with a University of Georgia staff member who has committed to getting involved and assisting locals with banking issues.

Our Divine Saviour Victims Fund, established at South Georgia Banking Co., is being used to assist families of the slain men with expenses involving returning the bodies to Mexico for burial, Marti said.



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