Remember Marcelo Lucero
Nearly one year ago, on November 8, 2008, Long Island resident Marcelo Lucero was beaten and stabbed to death by a group of local teens who had decided to go "beaner hopping." They had already assaulted other Latinos earlier that day. The group appears to me to have viewed racial attacks as a way to stave off boredom, regularly going after those they viewed as the most vulnerable and despised in their community: Latino immigrants.
Long Island Wins is sponsoring a campaign to remember Marcelo. Remembering Marcelo's life and his death is important to me because there have been too many racial attacks in Philadelphia as well. Some incidents date back years, like the attack against Julio Maldonado and Denis Calderon in 1996, where law enforcement sided with the persecutors instead of the victims. Immigrants are still being attacked today in our community, and for the same reasons that Marcelo was killed: they are viewed as enemies or threats by many in the community and also seen as easy targets. Local law enforcement here facilitates those kinds of crimes by targeting immigrants themselves, usually for minor traffic violations, and turning them over to ICE, ensuring that immigrant victims of crimes will be less willing to call the police for protection. This problem is not limited to Philly--Luis Ramirez was killed in Pottsville, PA, just months before Marcelo's death.
Long Island Wins and Marcelo's family have very effectively pushed back against the hate in their community, and I hope that other communities around the country can follow their example.
And as Ted Hesson of Long Island Wins pointed out, Congress could do a lot to solve the problem of hate crimes by passing immigration reform to bring people out of the shadows and into the scope of the protections that others in the community enjoy. Right now, too many people are invisible to all but those who wish them harm.