Tag Archives: marcelo lucero

Not in Our Town: Fighting Hate (new media style)

This week, a teenager is on trial in Long Island for the murder of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant who was targeted by a group of teenage boys who went looking for Latinos to assault  in November, 2008.

I wrote a lot about the Marcelo Lucero murder that year. It came only a few months after another murder in Shenandoah, PA where Luis Ramirez was beaten to death by a group of local high school boys. (Yes, there is a pattern here).

As we hope for some justice in the murder of Marcelo Lucero, a new online community is being launched to help fight hate in communities across the country.

Not in Our Town (NIOT) is a project of the Working Group, which “tells stories for and about people who make change, and connects them to others who can expand their influence.”

With a focus on race, diversity and the battle against intolerance, NIOT.org is a tool for people fighting prejudice and hate-based violence targeting people for their race, ethnicity, faith or sexual orientation.

The new site will:

“…allow communities and individuals around the country to connect, share ideas and model best practices for building safe, inclusive communities.

You should check out their page with information on how to get connected and start making a difference. While you’re at it, stop by and leave messages of support for Joselo Lucero while he sits through his own brother’s murder trial in search of justice.

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.

Latinos in Suffolk County live in fear

Suffolk County rallies around the murder of Marcelo Lucero, calling for an end to the hate and violence.

Suffolk County rallies around the murder of Marcelo Lucero, calling for an end to the hate and violence.

If you’ve read this blog consistently, you will remember the murder of Marcelo Lucero in Suffolk County, NY earlier this year. Lucero was brutally murdered by a group of young boys who were out for a night of “beaner-jumping” – to give you an idea of the culture of hate that rules in this area.

Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a report that, as la Mamita Mala at VivirLatino says, tell us what residents of Suffolk County, NY already know (and live on a daily basis). The report shows that Latinos in Suffolk County, NY live in a climate of fear – fear for their safety and their lives. To read the full report, click here.

Steve Levy, the Suffolk County executive, is infamous for the many anti-immigrant initiatives and county policies he’s signed into law. Recently, he has been labeled the “enabler-in-chief of the anti-immigrant violence” in Suffolk. After the murder of Marcelo Lucero, the community rallied to show up to prayer vigils and lift up the story to educate the American public on the hate still preying on the vulnerable

However… Levy continued with his anti-immigrant rhetoric, stating that the incident was receiving too much coverage and that it should only be a “one-day” story.

Thankfully, two days later, Levy issued a mea culpa apologizing for his statements. However, this is too little, too late for a community that is being torn apart by hate.

From the SPLC press release:

“The murder of Marcelo Lucero was by no means an isolated hate crime but rather part of a wider pat­tern of violent attacks against Latinos in Suffolk County,” said Mark Potok, director of the SPLC Intel­ligence Project, which produced the report. “For 10 years, political leaders and anti-immigration activists in Suffolk County have demonized Latino immigrants, and the police have appeared indifferent to their plight. We should not be surprised that Latinos are regularly targeted for violence and harassment.”

The report includes numerous first-hand accounts of immigrants being punched and kicked by random attackers, beaten with baseball bats or robbed at knifepoint. They say they are regularly taunted, spit upon and pelted with apples, full soda cans, beer bottles and other projectiles.

The anti-immigrant rhetoric in Suffolk County dates back at a least a decade to the founding of Sachem Quality of Life (SQL), a militant anti-immigrant group that spread bogus data claiming Latino immigrants were responsible for sexual assaults, burglaries and other serious crimes. The group stoked anti-immi­grant sentiment, repeatedly referring to Latino immigrants as “terrorists” and labeling anyone advocating immigrant rights as traitors.

I definitely appreciate the work that SPLC has done on this issue, and for lifting up this story to the national level, but I wonder if there is something more than a teachable moment that can be latched onto here. What does it take to eradicate hate like this?

In  previous post, I quoted the NY Times article titled “A Death in Patchogue”, and I feel the need to quote it again.

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.

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.

A Reflection on the the Murder of Marcelo Lucero

Yesterday, I posted on the story of two Ecuadorean brothers who were brutally beaten in Brooklyn this past Sunday, as they walked arm-in-arm back to their apartment.

bkimmigrant1

This story, already so painful, is made even moreso by the poignant and hopeful post at Long Island Wins, about the murder of Marcelo Lucero.

Lisa Votino-Tarrant, a Long Island resident and immigrant rights advocate, has posted a very personal and powerful reflection about Marcelo’s death, one month later. Her tone, at first despondent, eventually takes on a note of hopefulness, a belief that something good and positive will come of this.

Since the night of the candlelight vigil we have seen small groups of people meeting all over Long Island. They’re discussing race, how they can help, or just trying to get to know their neighbors better. We see organizations working together to help a community heal. We see adults educating each other about their cultures. We see children who look different holding hands.

Are things perfect? Is everyone singing Cumbaya? Of course not. But I have learned that I REALLY want to visit Ecuador (have you ever looked at pictures from there?!). I’ve learned to sit back and listen a little more….lot’s of people are just looking to be heard.

But do you want to know what the most important thing I have seen is? As I walked in Patchogue yesterday while attending a community celebration of Ecuador’s culture at the First Congregational Church on Main Street….people smiled at the people who walked by them instead of keeping their heads down. A rattled and wounded community, are again holding their head’s up, knowing in their hearts that this has changed them forever…..and it might even be for the better.

I leave you with one more thought. A friend of mine a few weeks ago sent me a quote that I have looked at every morning and I thought I would share it with you: “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.” -Anne Lamott

The reflection really is quite powerful. I encourage everyone to read the full version at the Long Island Wins blog. And, despite the recent news and despite the poisonous environment that’s been created for immigrants in this country, I do believe that we have to cling to that stubborn hope. Not only that but we must all keep working to make that hope a reality.

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.

Hiding in Plain Sight

nohumanillegalThere was a great feature published in New York Magazine on Sunday, about undocumented families living in the New York area. It lays bare the daily reality of fear facing immigrant communities. In the wake of the brutal murder of Marcelo Lucero in Long Island, immigrants across the region are nervous about their safety and the safety of their families.

The tension is subterranean, but unremitting. By mayoral executive order, the police are banned from casual questioning about immigration status—but who knows, as Alberto said, “when we’ll bump into a racist cop and he’ll ask for our papers?” And so you’ll see certain dark-skinned people move to the next car when they spot a blue uniform on the subway. They steer clear of hospitals until they are too sick to stand. The undocumented are muted when landlords withhold heat, or bosses refuse to pay, or Feds search their bedrooms without warrants. When you are “out of status,” you learn to keep quiet. To dodge exposure. To stay to work another day

This feature is a MUST read. Check out the full piece here.