We don’t have to call Jeffrey Conroy, the young man who killed Marcelo Lucero, alleged killer anymore but legally we can’t call him a murderer. Yesterday’s convictions of Conroy on hate crime manslaughter and gang assault mean that his actions were criminal and filled with bias and hate towards immigrants, especially “Mexicans” even if Lucero was Ecuadorian but the jury choosing manslaughter over murder, which was also on the table, means that the jury thought that Conroy didn’t mean to kill Lucero.
I have written over and over again some of the problems with the hate crimes context being expected to solve everything especially given the growing prison industrial complex that has historically used people of color as human fodder and most recently is looking to expand using Latino immigrants. Macha has written on the double edge sword in seeking justice when our killers look like us or are a part of us.
I have read and heard people saying that the verdict yesterday means justice has been served. Others have said that the lack of a conviction on the murder charge shows that there is still a disconnect in terms of how critical the situation is for Latinos when it comes to the way the anti-immigrant rhetoric has turned into a cry for action to many.
For Marcelo’s family, justice will never be fully served as no charge or years in prison can bring him back. And i will admit to a deep gut desire to wanting a murder conviction for Conroy, to wanting a life sentence. No it’s not radical, pero after years of seeing so many mothers weeping at the site of their child’s death, a grief-stricken part wants to sit smugly and watch someone go to jail for a long time for killing parts of our community, an eye for an eye justice as someone said in the comments yesterday.
Pero as people were talking about the Lucero verdict yesterday (although not enough people in my opinion were talking about it), I received an email from an amiga of Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar who is planning a memorial service and vigil. This morning I read about another mujer, Ashley Santiago, who was killed in Puerto Rico. I was thinking of all the vigils and rallies I have gone to, not just in this last year pero over my 15 some odd years in the “movements”. Finally I was thinking about how last month I had to explain to my 3 year old why Altagracia Mayi was crying and why we were marching.
Our communities are far from finding justice and I think part of it is that we are looking for it or expecting it from all the wrong places.