Justice (?) for Luis Ramirez

Last week, a jury in a Federal Court in Pennsylvania convicted Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky of violating the civil rights of Luis Ramirez, when the two former high school football players from Shenandoah, PA beat and kicked the Mexican immigrant to death in July 2008.

From the Cypress Times:

The jury found the defendants guilty of violating the criminal component of the federal Fair Housing Act, which makes it a crime to use a person’s race, national origin or ethnicity as a basis to interfere, with violence or threats of violence, with a person’s right to live where he chooses to live. In addition, the jury found that Donchak conspired to, and did in fact, obstruct justice.

The Feds stepped in with Hate Crime charges after the state court allowed Donchak and Piekarsky to get away with murder. Now the two face life in prison. Sentencing will be Jan. 24, 2011.

Is this the road to justice though?

I may be accused to splitting hairs here, but it is important to remember that this is not a murder conviction. It is a conviction of violating Ramirez’s civil rights which led to his death (which is why the possible sentence is so high). And that does make a difference. I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on tv but there seems to be a root difference between proving someone’s hate against Mexicans/Latinos motivated them to go out and kill someone and that someone’s hate against Mexicans/Latinos motivated them to violate their civil rights, in this case Ramirez’s right to live where he wanted. This was something I pointed out when the DOJ made it’s initial indictment. For many families that I have worked with whose children have been killed by hate crimes and state violence, this does make a difference, especially when considering what could happen if the race/ethnicity of the killer/victim were reversed.

As America’s Voice points out, while the Ramirez verdict may feel like some relief, especially for the family, the use of “the Latino immigrant” as a fear tactic meant to inspire hate an fear continues and by those seeking more power in the United States.

This campaign season, a number of candidates are running race-baiting campaign ads that demonize immigrants. They use extreme, anti-immigrant rhetoric instead of offering real solutions to our immigration crisis. Republican Senate candidates David Vitter (R-LA) and Sharron Angle of Nevada are both running anti-immigrant ads that paint Latinos as dangerous criminals, freeloaders, and the enemies of “real” Americans.

On Saturday night, after a reading as part of the make/shift RecLAmation Tour, the artists were asked if we believed that the law could be expected to protect communities from and stop hate. While this verdict is a huge step in many ways and yes is something to be celebrated, the daily reality of immigrants, especially immigrant Latinos in this country has not changed all that much. In fact we have seen it get worse as immigration enforcement separates our families legally, and the “criminals” follow that example.

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11 comments on “Justice (?) for Luis Ramirez
  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Justice (?) for Luis Ramirez | VivirLatino -- Topsy.com

  2. Thank you guys for staying on top of this very worring story, when no too many other media
    outlets even mentioned it. Mucha gracias!


  3. Violence.Murder by the state,gangs,criminals.A way of life for millions of Latinos.We live with such evil.Death is our constant companion 24hrs a day.You never know when the day will arrive when you are at the wrong place at the wrong time.
    The police for the most part are a de facto private security force whose unstated mission is primarily to protect white people’s lives and property.
    We live in one of the most violent,murderous,racist countries in the world.Our Latino establishment leaders serve as firewalls between the Latino people and the powers that be-the status quo..
    Their job is to deflect and channel Latino rage in order to render it powerless and non-threatening to the US power hierarchy-political,social and economic.In this sense they serve as enforcers and guradians of this structure payed for by lower level positions of petty power,privelege and wealth.
    Tragically,the Latino people are captive prisoners,inmates in this enormous USA matrix of complex-social reservations-concentration camps.Latinos,being almost completely powerless and defenseless,have little or nothing they can do within the current context of power and political relationships exisiting in the USA.We are like flocks of shepherdless sheep living and dying in a nation of wolves.

    I know that the solution I’m about to propose next will be considered an act of rebellion by many of those in power and even to many of those who are powerless.You can draw your own conclusions.
    Fear exists on both levels.But for different reasons.But this solution being so direct is what instills fear and trepidation into the hearts of many.It is always amazing to me how those who have nothing to lose will frequently run away with abject fear to solutions that could lead to their liberation.A solution requiring sacrifice and bravery..so simple,obvious and yes..liberating.That’s what gives it it’s incredible power for change.
    It is my belief that the Latino people will never be free from state,police,vigilante,gang,criminal terrorism as long as the racist xenophobic white power structure remains in power guided by their Capitalist divide and conquer dog-eat-dog system of racist oppression and exploitation.
    Furthermore,I believe that the Latino people can ONLY free themselves from these different manifestations of terrorism ONLY if and when they take control of their own communities.Community Control equates with Self-determination,Security of our Communities.
    The worst nightmare for the state,police,vigilante,gang,criminal terrorists would be the prospect of having to face a determined educated,united …and yes,armed Latino people.The people taking real control-opposing the terrorists,arming themselves into a tightly organized politically conscious community security militias-going up against the terrorists united and determined to drive out the climate of fear,intimidation,misery and hopelessness from our barrios.

    I will say it again and again.UNITY.


  4. Be careful, Chicano Future Tense, for if the US gov’t is as pernicious as you paint it to be, you are being reckless:

    U.S.C. 18 S 2385:

    Whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States…by force or violence…Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, “

  5. @ bryan j
    yeah,thanks bryan for the concern..
    as far as U.S.C. 18 S 2385:
    -This law along with Patriot Act 1&2 I do not recognize or respect as being legitimate.
    Furthermore,many of us on the left know the risks we take everyday ..
    we are well aware that “Fighting Back” against tyranny and injustice is always illegal to tyrants.Of course,Freedom of Speech is almost always a threat to them except if you are Fox News or Rush Scumball advocating bombing from the skies,the mass genocide,murder,the fiendish medical experimentation and poisoning of millions of innocent people of color all around the world.
    Is that also a violation of U.S.C. 18 S 2385:???

    and in that spirit..I would like to conclude by quoting the classic lines of a grimacing Alphonso Badoya in the classic movie “Treaure of the Sierra Madre” as he responds upon being asked to show his personal badge of authority..

    “Batches..what batches??….I ain’t got to cho you no estinking batches!!!!”

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