Tag Archives: hate crimes

A bit of justice for Luis Ramirez

This month has brought a bit of justice to the case of Luis Ramirez, the man beaten to death by three teenage boys last summer. Earlier this year, all three of the teenage boys were found not guilty of murder and acquitted of ethnic intimidation charges. All in spite of witness testimony of the beating that was rife with racial slurs and obvious racial motivations. They were found guilty of simple assault. Not surprisingly, this verdict was delivered by an all-white jury.

After this miscarriage of justice, groups like MALDEF petitioned the Department of Justice to intervene and file hate crimes charges in the case and in the last month there has been a bit of justice served in Shenandoah.

Five people, including three police officers, have been indicted in the fatal race-related beating of a Latino man in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

Two indictments charge the five with federal hate crime charges, as well as obstruction of justice and conspiracy, authorities said in a written statement. A federal grand jury handed up the indictments last week, and they were unsealed Tuesday.

Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky are charged with a hate crime for beating Luis Ramirez in July 2008 while shouting racial epithets at him, according to the department. Ramirez died two days later.

“Following the beating, Donchak, Piekarsky and others, including members of the Shenandoah Police Department, participated in a scheme to obstruct the investigation of the fatal assault,” the Justice Department said. As a result, Donchak faces three additional counts of conspiring to obstruct justice and related offenses, officials said.

While this is huge news in terms of setting precedent for the prosecutions of hate crimes, I still feel this is too little too late and even a band-aid on what has grown to be a gaping sore on the face of small-town America.

Yes hate crime charges should be filed, yes I consider it justice to finally get the truth out about the cover-up that sought to keep the hometown heroes from harm. But at the core of this, there is the continued dehumanization of people of color and of immigrants. There is the hate that runs so deep that three high school kids could muster the sheer blind rage to beat a man to death with their bare hands and a kick to the head. And there was complicity. There were adults who knew this rage existed and knew the ugly truth but thought these boys deserved special treatment, that they were somehow above the law.

In the fight against this hate, the indictments are a start, but we have a long way to go.

Remembering Marcelo Lucero

One year ago, seven teenage boys in Suffolk County, Long Island, NY were trying to find a way to spend their Saturday night. Sounds like a typical American teenage night of boredom, but it would end in senseless hate, violence and death. The seven boys set out to do some “beaner jumping”. Yes, you read that right. These boys set out with the intention of finding a Latino to beat.

They found Marcelo Lucero, a 37 year old Ecuadorian immigrant who had been living in the United States for 16 years. They beat and stabbed him to death.

I remember writing about this a year ago. I was fairly new to the pro-migrant blogosphere and was still reeling from the murder of Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, PA.

Its hard to fully wrap my head around this idea. These boys were searching for a person of Hispanic heritage – ANY person of hispanic heritage. Where does this intense hatred come from?

Though after writing that initial post I soon learned about Steve Levy, the Suffolk county executive who had consistently been pushing a hardline anti-immigrant agenda in the area, and I started connecting the dots.

Then in September, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a report that found immigrants in Suffolk County had been living in a constant climate of fear for their safety and their lives.

Mamita Mala at VivirLatino really makes the connection in her post remembering Marcelo Lucero:

I do not draw a line separated the violence unleashed on our communities based on whether it is committed by private individuals or individuals action on behalf of the local, state or federal government. One allows and promotes the other. The continuing criminalization of immigrant communities dehumanizes and sends a message to private citizens that immigrants/Latinos/Mexicans are all criminal anyway, not worthy of protection under the law or justice.

And today, while we remember Marcelo Lucero, we must also continue to fight the dehumanization and criminalization that Mamita Mala points to in the above lines.

In a timely development of this story, yesterday one of Marcelo Lucero’s attackers plead guilty in court:

Nicholas Hausch, 18, pleaded guilty to four counts to settle a nine-count indictment, including conspiracy, gang assault, assault as a hate crime and attempted assault as a hate crime in the Nov. 8, 2008, killing of Marcelo Lucero.

Hausch will testify against the six other boys facing jail time for the brutal murder. Hopefully justice will be served, but what will that justice mean for Marcelo Lucero’s family? For the Suffolk county community? For Latinos facing hate and xenophobia daily? For the character of our country as a whole?

A court of law will not make this right.

I will close this post with something I wrote a year ago – where I quoted a moving NY Times editorial about Marcelo Lucero’s murder.

Deadly violence represents the worst fear that immigrants deal with every day, but it is not the only one. It must be every leader’s task to move beyond easy outrage and take on the difficult job of understanding and defending a community so vulnerable to sudden outbreaks of hostility and terror.

Not only every leader should take on this task, but every American. Period.

On Saturday, there will be a candlelight vigil in memory of Marcelo Lucero in Patchogue, NY. I hope those of you who live in New York can attend – I wish I could be there in person.

Please visit the Long Island Wins website to sign the petition real immigration solutions to avoid more tragedies like the one in Patchogue.

The Luis Ramirez Murder: A Logical Step in the Process of Establishing a Subhuman Class

we are human
The systematic dehumanization of undocumented immigrants is something that I wish I had more time to write about in this space. In the face of the rising number of hate groups and hate crimes, I think that the American public MUST take a long hard look at the language we use to describe the Other. By painting undocumented immigrants as less than human, we are complicit in the violence (and even murder) committed against them. If someone is less than human, you can treat them as such, right?
More on this later, but in the mean time, I urge everyone to read this new post up at the Sanctuary. You know that its important when the Sanctuary editors all come together to write a long and thoughtful post on a recent news item. In this case, its the injustice witnessed in the case of Luis Ramirez, whose brutal murderers (white high school kids) were recently acquitted of the crime by an all-white jury.
Originally posted at the Sanctuary:

Three things immediately shock the conscious soul upon learning about the murder of Luis Ramirez. The simple manner in which he died is the first of those.

Ramirez, a father of three, was beaten to death in the streets of Pennsylvania by as many as seven young men who were at the end of a night of drinking. The motive? Judging by the slurs heaped upon him along with the many blows to his body: apparently nothing more than being out at night while Mexican. The teens who ganged up on Ramirez came upon him walking with a young woman, reportedly his girlfriend’s sister. Obviously bringing threat, they asked him what he was doing out at that time of day. Then they set upon him. In the end it was a final hard kick to the skull which left the 25-year-old father convulsing on the concrete with fatal brain damage.

The post is lengthy, but KEEP READING!

Continue reading

Justice for Luis Ramirez: Press Conference in DC Tomorrow

stop_hate12

WHAT: News Conference on Hate Crimes


WHEN: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. EST

WHERE: Russell Park, in front of the Russell Senate Office Building, on the corner

of Constitution Ave. & Delaware Ave. NE in Washington, D.C.


Tomorrow a coalition of civil rights leaders and elected officials will hold a news conference to call for justice in the case of the murder of Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.

The coalition will call on the United States Department of Justice to pursue a broad and comprehensive investigation of the beating and brutal murder of 25 year old, father of two, Luis Ramirez. The Department of Justice should consider bringing federal hate crimes charges against those responsible for Ramirez’s death. Ramirez lost his life in July 2008, after he was knocked unconscious and kicked in the head by a group of Shenandoah teenagers who yelled racial epithets before and during the brutal beating.

A Schuylkill County Court jury acquitted Brandon Piekarsky, 17, of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation and Derrick Donchak, 19, of aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation a few weeks ago. Both were convicted of simple assault.


The coalition will also urge the Senate for swift passage of the “Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009,” following a successful vote by the U.S. House of Representatives recently. The bill strengthens existing federal hate crime laws by authorizing the Department of Justice to assist local authorities in investigating and prosecuting certain bias-motivated crimes. The bill would also provide authority for the federal government to prosecute some violent bias-motivated crimes directed against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.

Jury Finds Teens Not Guilty in the Brutal Death of Luis Ramirez


Last summer, three teens in Shenandoah, PA, attacked and beat a Mexican immigrant to death.  After shouting increasingly violent threats and racial slurs at Luis Ramirez, the three teens proceeded to beat him so badly that he was left convulsing on the ground and foaming at the mouth. He died two days later in the hospital.  I followed the story closely.  I just read through some of my older posts and thought this line was worth repeating:

America will look back in shame on events like this.

As though right on cue, this past Monday, the three teens responsible for the violent and hateful death of Luis Ramirez were found not guilty of murder and were acquitted of ethnic intimidation charges. They were found guilty of simple assault. Not surprisingly, this verdict was delivered by an all-white jury. As Dave Neiwert at Alternet wrote:

the weight of evidence against the accused was so powerful that it’s clear the all-white jury — like similar juries in the South during the Civil Rights struggle — was not going to convict two young white men of murdering a Mexican. Even if, as Friedman [in the video above] says, “the only reason he is dead is because he was Mexican.”

If you, like me, are outraged by verdict, please sign this petition from MALDEF, asking the Department of Justice to thoroughly investigate the case, to ensure justice is served.

Also, be sure to read the full piece by Neiwert, which gets the heart of the issue – bigotry and racism that is going unchecked and unpunished.

Migrant Decapitated in Russia, Hits close to Home

The New York Times reported Saturday that a migrant worker from Tajikistan was murdered, and decapitated, by a group of Russian ultranationalists.

The group that took responsibility for the killing issued a statement:

…in an e-mail statement sent to two human rights organizations that monitor hate crimes in Russia. The statement included a photograph of the victim’s severed head.

The statement said the killing was “a demonstration of their resolve to fight against the non-Russian occupation, and a warning to officials that the same will happen to them if they do not stop the flow of immigration,” said Galina V. Kozhevnikova, a deputy director at the Sova Center, one of the organizations that received the statement.

Some might see this story of sheer inhumane brutality as something that only happens in other countries, committed by nameless foreigners and extremists. But you don’t need to look any further than Shenandoah, Pennsylvania or Long Island or Brooklyn, NY to know that these things are occurring right here at home. The fight for migrant rights is universal and we need to start by demanding those rights in our own country.

Another Day, Another Senseless Hate Crime

As most of you know, I have recently been following the story of Marcelo Lucero, the Ecuadorean immigrant beaten to death in Long Island. Unfortunately, Marcelo’s story is not an isolated incident. Hate crimes against Latinos rose 40% between 2003 and 2007.

bkimmigrantSo, the news that on Sunday morning two more Ecuadorean immigrants were beaten in Brooklyn, NY comes as no surprise.

Wait. Let me think about that for a second. Today, when I heard that Jose Sucuzhanay and his brother Romel Sucuzhanay were brutally beaten, while walking arm-in-arm, by random attackers, presumably for their ethnicity and/or sexual orientation, I was not surprised. The fact that I partially expected news like this breaks my heart.

Three men came out of the car shouting at the brothers, Jose and Romel Sucuzhanay — something ugly, anti-gay and anti-Latino. Vulgarisms against Hispanics and gay men were heard by witnesses, the police said. One man approached Jose Sucuzhanay, 31, the owner of a real estate agency who has been in New York a decade, and broke a beer bottle over the back of his head. He went down hard.

Meanwhile, anti-immigrant groups like FAIR continue to say there is no connection between the vicious anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric and these hate crimes. Open your eyes people. Hate does not happen in a vaccuum. Patterns emerge for a reason.

We must stop the dehumanization of immigrants.

Click here for the full NY Times article on the Hate crime in Brooklyn.