June 30th, 2010
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.
May 9th, 2010
Hakim Scott is no longer the alleged killer of Ecuadorian immigrant businessman José Sucuzhanay. Last Thursday, Hakim Scott was acquitted of a hate crime and murder but convicted of first-degree manslaughter and attempted assault. Tomorrow, Monday May 8, at the Kings County Criminal Court in Brooklyn, NY, the family of the second accused killer, Keith Phoenix and the family of José Sucuzhanay will await the verdict against phoenix who is facing assault, deadly weapon possession, and multiple murder convictions, including second-degree murder as a hate crime convictions.
Scott will be sentenced on June 9th and faces up to 40 years.
I asked Diego Sucuzhanay, José’s brother, via facebook last night , how the family felt about last week’s verdict. He wrote back saying that he felt the verdict showed that the justice system doesn’t work for everyone and how difficult the judicial process has been because it keeps reminding them of the moments right after José and his brother Romel were attacked, especially the first five days José was in the hospital and all the familia tried to be optimistic that he would pull through. The verdict last week was a bitter reminder that their brother will not survive, will never come back regardless of any verdict. But still they hoped that their would be justice which it seemed to me meant a hate crimes conviction. Diego wanted the message against intolerance, racism and xenophobia to be severe and clear to make sure that there are no more José’s. Diego Sucuzhanay said that we have been robbed of justice and by we, he means New York City and society at large hence the title of this post which is a direct quote of what Diego wrote to me.
I’m wondering, as a Latina coming from a more radical place, how do we negotiate the idea of justice in our communities. Last year I wrote about about concerns I had with how this case was being framed, especially with calls for high sentences against men from communities who already are targeted by the prison industrial complex.
There have been more deaths since José’s. There have been transphobic murders and horrific laws in Arizona. When will we link all of this together in a more cohesive way so that the answer to the cries for justice from mourning families doesn’t always end in a jail cell or not.
April 21st, 2010
I don’t think many immigrants in NYC are celebrating NYC Immigrant Heritage Week, which ends today. At the Opportunity Agenda event on the immigration movement and the arts, Maria Hinojosa asked referred to the three-term Mayor’s pro-immigrant comments but looking at the reality of immigrant life here in NYC, I am reminded of the words of Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director of the NY Immigration Coalition, who talked about making sure that the rhetoric and the policy intersect.
Bloomberg is a businessman as much as he is a politician, meaning he will talk out of both sides of his mouth so long as it promotes his own power. While Bloomberg plays pro-migrant mayor, he also says that he thinks the Tea Party is a good thing. We all know where the Tea Party movement stands when it comes to immigration. Bloomberg thinks he can get away with saying he supports both immigrants and hate groups by saying one thing to one group and another thing to another.
But who has he not said anything to? What has Bloomberg not spoken about?
November 5th, 2009
There is much remembering that one year ago the United States elected it’s first person of color president. The U.S. was overwhelmed with bold, bright promises of hope and change. People wept, and I was among them. The start of the Obama era marked the end of the Bush era and hopefully would mean policy changes that would directly impact the everyday lives of all people pero yes, for people of color and immigrants there was a special hope. Hope that immigration reform that would keep all families together and value the lives of people who live and work in the shadows and out in the open.
But then something happened that many thought wasn’t supposed to happen anymore. Weren’t we post-racial? Days after Barack Obama became the president-elect a group of teenagers in Patchogue, Long Island, NY hung out doing what they did about once a week. “Beaner jumping”. That’s what they called it when they went out looking for anyone who looked Latino (they don’t care what kind of “beaner” you are) so they could assault them. That night the young men were out for blood though and they killed Marcelo Lucero.
May 8th, 2009
in 1991, in the rapidly changing immigrant community of Corona, Queens, NYC 19 year old son of Dominican immigrants, Manny Mayi Jr. was beaten to death.
Last year, Marcelo Lucero was killed.
At the start of the new year Wilter Sanchez was nearly killed.
In February of this year Jose Sucuzhañay, an Ecuadorian immigrant was beaten to death.
Speaking Spanish can get you beaten.
And most recently, Luis Ramirez was beaten and killed and those accused got away with murder.
I could go through recent and not so recent history and clearly see a pattern and practice of hate that has been growing. A pattern and practice of racism, nativism, fueled by the media and government, eaten up by the mainstream public.
People in Shenandoah celebrated, went out into the streets and rejoiced after an all-white jury found Brandon J. Piekarsky, 17, and Derrick M. Donchak, 19, guilty of lesser charges and acquitted them of criminal homicide and aggravated assault.
And then people have the nerve to ask why are more Latinos not more active in the fight for immigration change?
This is not just about laws, this about lives.
So what do we as a community do?
February 26th, 2009
Last night I was watching the local news and saw that an arrest was made in the racist and homophobic murder of Jose Sucuzhañay.
Hakim Scott, 25, was arrested yesterday in connection with the beating death. Police are looking for another suspect, identified as Keith Phoenix, 28, of the Bronx. Both are African-American.
The reasons why I mention the race of the suspects are many. Certainly the race of the suspects will Be held up as proof that it’s not white racism that is to blame for the 40% rise in hate crimes against Latinos. I have no doubt that it will be said that it’s all the people of color killing each other. As if anti-immigrant hate organizations spending money on divide and conquer ads that point the finger at Latino immigrants for unemployment bear no responsibility? As if ICE who just conducted another raid, bears no blame?
I am also concerned with the arrest of one of two suspects being used as an excuse for the NYPD to lay their heavy hands inside of communities who are already constantly harassed. I want to be clear, D.A. Hynes, who failed to prosecute killer cops who shot young Latino men in the back like Anibal Carrasquillo and Frankie Arzuaga, is not going to be the man to bring real justice to Latino communities and these arrests do not equal license to abuse other people of color.
What should justice look like? Something more than arrest and jail time.
Add to this to how now the Brooklyn District Attorney is defending the manhood of the victim by pointing out that Jose was walking close to his brother to keep warm, not because he was gay. Pero what if Jose had been gay? Would it have been ok then?
December 15th, 2008
Yesterday there was a rally for the latest known Latino hate crime victim José Sucuzhañay.
Present at the rally were Latino city politicos including Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez , City Council member Diana Reyna and City Council member Melissa Mark-Viverito. Also present was Altagracia Mayi, activist and the mother of another hate crime victim, Manny Mayi.
Joselo Lucero, whose brother Marcelo was killed last month by a group of Long Island teenagers, was also among those who took part in the Bushwick vigil.
It is so important that the families of those touched by hate crimes be unified and be at the front lines of these struggles. It shoes how racist violence has a history (Mayi was killed in 1991) and how all of these crimes are connected, not just by racist hate that is not going away but also by a criminal (in)justice system that refuses to properly investigate and prosecute these crimes and treats them like isolated incidents.
Via / Blabbeando, Boy in Bushwick
December 9th, 2008
It becomes emotionally exhausting having to write about hate crimes against Latinos, having to read and rehash the disgusting details, and being reminded in very tangible ways of how far people will go to hurt someone who could easily be someone I care about. And here we go again.
On early Sunday morning Jose Sucuzhanay from Ecuador and his hermano Romel Sucuzhanay, were walking arm in arm in Bushwick, Brooklyn, just a block away from home, when a carload of men pulled up nearby. A man who got out of the car yelled anti-gay and anti-Latino epithets at the brothers, then broke a bottle over the 31-year-old man’s head.
His brother ran, and at least three other men who were in the car set upon the 31-year-old, beating him with a baseball bat and kicking him. The beating stopped when the brother returned, holding his cellphone, and told the attackers he had just called the police, the official said.
Jose is now on life support at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens and it looks like the family has had to make the heartbreaking choice of not letting Jose suffer anymore.