Luis Ramirez died two days after being brutally beaten by three teenagers in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania
Like I promised, here is a more about the dehumanization of the Other and why it must stop.
This piece was written by Gabe Gonzalez, a veteran community organizers and the director of the Campaign for Community Values at the Center for Community Change.
A few days ago two teens, accused in the fatal beating of Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania were acquitted of all serious charges by an all white jury. Shortly after Ramirez was brutally murdered, his grieving fiancé had a premonition about the outcome of justice in the case saying, “I know they’re going to try to make him look like nothing, and try to justify what the kids did, even though there’s no way they could justify this. I know I’m not gonna get the justice I deserve, 10-1 these kids are going to get probation or a slap on the hand. Because he’s an illegal Mexican they don’t care, right away he’s less important.”
When I heard the verdict, I was taken back to a conversation from a couple of years ago when I stood aghast with all Americans as pictures rolled out from Abu Ghraib. I remember vividly talking with a friend of mine about it. He shook his head and said what we were all thinking, “Why did they do this?” It hit me hard, because I knew the answer. I shook my head with him and said quietly, “Because they could.”
Last week, a vigilante rancher operating along the Arizona-Mexico border was found liable for assaulting and intentionally inflicting emotional distress on a group of immigrants he found on public land.
The Mexican immigrants were found resting in a dry stream bed in Douglas, Arizona when they were accosted by Roger Barnett who was armed with a gun and accompanied by a large dog. Roger Barnett held the group captive at gunpoint, threatening that his dog would attack and that he would shoot anyone who tried to leave. During the encounter, Barnett kicked one woman as she was lying, unarmed, on the ground.
Barnett must now pay $73,352 in damages to the victims.
Our friends at MALDEF (the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) backed the lawsuit filed by the migrants in this case. “This verdict in favor of the plaintiffs sends a strong message condemning vigilante violence against immigrants,” MALDEF staff attorney Marisol Perez said in a statement.
This ruling clearly shows that vigilante attacks against immigrants will not be tolerated, and rightly so. Attacks on immigrants, especially Latinos, have escalated to record numbers in recent years. The rise in hate crimes and vigilante violence directly correlates to the hate speech and dehumanization of migrants that has inundated mainstream media from Hate Groups like FAIR, NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies.
FAIR, an anti-immigrant hate group, even touted last week’s ruling in this case as a “victory”. Not only did the back the violent attacks perpetrated by Barnett, but they ignored the reality of the sentence and decided this was somehow a victory for the xenophobic nativists who are hunting anyone with brown skin on the border. Way to go FAIR.
I have had the unfortunate task of covering the brutal murders of both Marcelo Lucero and Luis Ramirez on this blog. I have also posted several times on the spike in hate crimes against Latinos that is being witnessed in the United States. The hate speech and the vitriolic rhetoric surrounding the issue of immigration has created a violent and dangerous environment for all immigrants, and specifically Latinos.
Yesterday, national organizations gathered to denounce the recent rash of Hate Crimes and to call for more agressive investigation and prosection of these crimes at both the local and the federal levels.
“We believe that the Justice Department has to become more aggressive in prosecuting hate crimes,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, one of the nation’s historic civil rights organizations. “As a country, we’ve come a long way, but there is still more change needed.”
“Hate crimes such as these must be investigated and prosecuted fully at the local and federal levels,” stated John Trasviña, MALDEF President and General Counsel.
Additionally, the organizations connected the dots between hate speech and the violence inflicted on immigrants. It is time to call for an end to the dehumanization of immigrants that allows unthinkable violence and hatred to enter into the mainstream.
“There is a direct connection between the tenor of the political debate and the daily lives of immigrants in our communities. It is no accident that, as the immigration debate has demonized immigrants as “invaders” who poison our communities with disease and criminality, haters have taken matters into their own hands and hate crimes against Latinos are on the rise for the fourth consecutive,” said Michael Lieberman, Washington Counsel, Anti-Defamation League.
While the groups cited Barack Obama’s election as marker for how far we’ve come as a nation, they also emphasize that is a starting point, from which to build on for a more hopeful and less hateful future.
For more on what you can do, check out www.wecanstopthehate.org. And to see video from the press conference – click here.
Below is a clip from CNN Newsroom yesterday – I think that the lawyers’ responses speak for themselves.
Also – keep reading below for a full transcript of the show:
Today, there will be a candlelight vigil, calling for PEACE and JUSTICE in the wake of last week’s hate crime that killed Luis Ramirez, a 25 year-old Mexican immigrant who was beaten to death by local teenagers in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. Eye-witness accounts claim that the beating was filled with racial slurs and epithets.
This week, justice has been set in motion – 2 of the teens involved are being charged with homicide and ethnic intimidation and will be tried as adults. A third teen is charged with aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation and other offenses.
Details of the vigil are below:
WHO: Gladys Limón, MALDEF Staff Attorney Crystal Dillman, Fiancée of Luis Ramirez Arielle and Victor Garcia, Eyewitnesses to the crime and friends of Luis Ramirez, Dr. Agapito Lopez, Community Activist
WHEN: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 4:00 pm EST – Press conference at 6:00 pm EST
Community candlelight vigil
WHERE: Vine Street Park Corner of W. Lloyd St. & Vine St. Shenandoah, PA 17976