Today is the actual date, 20 years later, that 19 year old Manny Mayi was chased 14 blocks and beaten to death the whole way, by a group of racist young men in Corona, Queens.
Today, Manny Mayi’s mother, Altagracia, will go to where her son lost consciousness, never to wake up, and lay flowers on the corner that now bears his name, 108th Street and 36th Avenue.
The hate motivated crime that occurred in 1991 has stood as placeholder of injustice for the Latino community in Queens and NYC as a whole. As hate crimes against Latinos rise again across the country, it is way too easy to fall into a sort of collective forgetting, a thinking that this growing fear and violent response to the changing face of neighborhoods across the U.S. happens only once in a while. But our collective community history, knows better.
Martha Laureano Perez, of the Justice Committee NYC, speaks in front of 1 Police Plaza NYC on the relevance of the Manny Mayi Jr. hate crime case 20 years later and the commitment required to support the struggle for justice.
Normally around the anniversary of her son’s death, Altagracia Mayi marches from where he lost his life in Corona, Queens and retraces the multiple blocks 19 year old Manny was chased while being beaten with bats in 1991. This year she will visit the corner named after him, 108th Street and 36th Avenue but first this past Sunday, she made a stop in front of One Police Plaza in NYC. She had a few things to say to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Dominican immigrant Altagracia Mayi speaks out in front of One Police Plaza, NYPD HQ in New York City on the 20th anniversary of the the hate crime that killed her son. Altagracia and the Justice Committee are demanding a meeting with NYC Police Commissioner Kelly and a special prosecutor, given how the current Queens’ DA, Richard Brown, was complicit in not properly prosecuting the case.
Kelly sent a letter to the Dept. of Justice requesting that they intervene and open a case against some of the accused for violating Manny Mayi Jr.’s civil rights. The Feds told Altagracia that they couldn’t because the statute of limitations has expired. Altagracia is now seeking a meeting with Kelly so that the case be reopened locally. Additionally she is seeking a meeting with NY Governor Andrew Cuomo.
On the night of March 29, 1991, Manny Mayi, an 19 year-old Dominican college student was chased and beaten to death by upon crossing over to the Italian-American section of Corona, Queens.
Following his murder, the Queen’s District Attorney’s Office [DA] struggled to produce an effective case against the alleged defendants as the Italian-American community became reclusive and shielded by police investigators. A young Italian-American woman admitted to police investigators that she heard one of the defendants confess to the crime. Nevertheless, her family relocated her to Italy one week prior to the start of the trial in 1993. She was never subpoenaed, thus her testimony was never heard.
The trial jury was selected from a pool of residents from Northern Queens and yielded a sole person of color. And while the crime was committed on a populous street during a warm spring evening, the DA’s office and the NYPD produced only two material witnesses. Compounded by the absence of hate crime legislation at the State or Federal levels, the criminal proceedings resulted in the swift acquittal of a lone defendant.
For years, rumors and accusations of police negligence lingered over the verdict. Most recently an investigation by the NYPD Cold Case Squad, —the results of which have not been shared with the family nor, to their knowledge, the Queens DA—have yielded no movement in the case.
It has been 20 years and this family continues to call for justice for the brutal murder of Manny Mayi. Join them to demand justice.
COME OUT TO THIS EVENT AS YOUR PRESENCE IS NEEDED AND SHARE THE INFO WITH OTHERS!
Today, Sunday March 27
1 pm to 4 pm
One Police Plaza (NYPD Headquarters)
Park Row (entrance is near the corner of Chambers and Centre Street)
New York City
The FBI statistics have shown a decrease in hate crimes against Latinos. In 2007, there were 830 reported hate crimes against Latinos. In 2008 the number dropped to 792. In the last year that data is available for, 2009, the number of reported and recognized hate crimes against Latinos is 692.
The latest threat, especially to immigrant women, is hidden in a program with a misleading name, Secure Communities. According to a recent article in Women’s eNews :
While federal law protects crime victims from having to reveal their immigration status, if these victims are arrested or have been arrested in the past Secure Communities now discloses that.
This can affect victims in a scenario where a police officer arrives at the home and can’t communicate with the couple. Police may arrest both parties or even arrest the victim if the abuser speaks English and twists the series of events that led to the police call.
It was two years ago today, November 8th, 2008 when Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero was murdered because of who he was and what that represented. Marcelo Lucero, a son, a brother was what many of us are, what many of our vecinos are, regular people trying to get by in this world. But for some young men of Patchogue, Long Island, Marcelo represented that promise that the new President-elect Obama spoke about. Marcelo represented the shifting demographic of their town, their state, and in essence the whole country.
Two years later, there has been backwards progress on immigration reform. Instead of a president and his party keeping their promises, they have increased the deportation and detention of the undocumented. It is doubtful if any undocumented youth would be able to take advantage of that scholarship fund set up in Marcelo Lucero’s name as the DREAM Act did not pass and it’s future is uncertain. Hate crimes against Latinos, immigrant or not, continue to rise as we do not and should not be required to carry our papers on our foreheads or on our bodies as SB1070 in Arizona in full effect demands.
With everyone praising the power of the Latino vote in the aftermath/afterglow of the midterm elections, there is increased noise about anchor babies and amnesty.
In el nombre de Marcelo what have you done?
What will you commit to do?
This trial comes after indictments in December of last year that charge the two men and three police officers in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania of violating Luis Ramirez’s civil rights and conspiring to cover up that violation. In the original criminal trial held last summer, Piekarsky was found not guilty of third degree murder, while Donchak was acquitted of aggravated assault.
In other words, they got away with murder and will continue to get away with murder.
As racially profiling Latinos gets more legal backing across the country, in New York City, where there is often an assumption of safety for Latinos, Keith Phoenix, the second accused killer of José Sucuzhanay, an Ecuadorian immigrant who two years ago was attacked along with his brother (who survived), was convicted of second-degree murder as a hate crime as well as attempted assault as a hate crime. Phoenix and Hakim Scott yelled anti-Latino and homophobic slurs at brothers Jose and Romel as they walked home from a party.
The first trial against Phoenix ended in a mistrial after the jury couldn’t come to a unified decision. Phoenix now faces life in prison.
I have written numerous times about the horror that happened against Lucero and how it is indicative of a growing anti-Latino sentiment in the United States, that now is slowly becoming legalized through laws like Arizona’s recently passed SB1070.
This past Saturday, the family of Manny Mayi Jr., activists, and supporters gathered at the corner named after him on 108th Street and 36th Avenue in Corona, Queens. They were marking 19 years since the Queens College honor student, oldest son of Dominican immigrants, had been chased over a dozen blocks and beaten to death by a racist gang who yelled racial epithets.
As if losing your son weren’t enough, Altagracia Mayi, Manny’s mother, who stands at barely five feet tall, has been fighting not just for the name of her son, who was originally defamed by local media who said he was chased from William Moore Park because he was tagging, but for equal justice under the law. William Moore Park in Corona, Queens is known locally, and somewhat offensively, as Spaghetti Park, because it formed what was the center of an Italian immigrant community. That community wasn’t so welcoming to the growing Latino population, especially Dominicans and Mexicans, that began to move into the neighborhood in the late 1980′s. I know that for myself, who partially grew up in the neighborhood, knew that the area famed for it’s renowned Lemon Ice King of Corona, wasn’t a safe place for Latinos or people of color in general.
Translation of Altagracia’s Words : I want to thank you for always remembering, in 19 years, the name of Manny Mayi. Like I have always told you, Manny Mayi was an honors student, a good student of a high quality that few of those people have. I am Latina and I live proud of being Latina, not like those dogs who commit crimes and stay as if nothing has happened. I live proud.