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?
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.
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.
Jeffrey Conroy, the accused killer of Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero has been found guilty, but not of murder. The young man who made it a sport to go “beaner jumping” has been found guilty of manslaughter as a hate crime and gang assault. Conroy was acquitted of the more serious charge of murder in the second degree as a hate crime, a charge that could have sent hm away for life. Under the charges that Conroy was convicted of, he faces a minimum of eight years and a maximum of 25 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 26.
I have many more thoughts on this verdict and will be writing a more detailed post later tonight but what do you all think? Was justice served?
The hate crime against the Ecuadorian immigrant for being a Latino immigrant has Jeffery Conroy taking the heat for the the stabbing death of Lucero in which at least 6 other young men participated in, now has it’s first Latino apologist with the media eating up one of the oldest racist defenses in the book : “But, he can’t be racist. His best friend was a beaner, spic, I mean Latino.”
Enter Will Garcia, the Ecuadorian friend of Conroy, who is quoted in the New York Times:
“How’s he going to be a white supremacist if he chills with Spanish people and he chills with black people? He’s my friend. He’s been there for me. I’ve been there for him. He wasn’t a racist.”
While the trial against those who are accused of murdering Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero wages on in Long Island, the memory of Manny Mayi Jr. and the relentless search for justice by his mother, Altagracia, is a reminder to the Latino community, and all communities that there is no expiration date in the struggle for our children.
March in Memory of Manuel Mayi Killed Brutally by a Racist Group
108th Street and 36th Avenue
(7 train to 111th Street)
March 27th, 2010
Manny was an 18-year-old Queens College honor student, Manny Mayi, was murdered in a racist attack on March 29, 1991. The young Dominican man was walking home in, what was then, the Italian section of Corona Queens when a gang of white youth chased him down 108th street. Manny’s life ended 16 blocks later when he was beat with pipes and baseball bats. The medical report listed as the cause of death: fracture of skull, and contusions of the brain due to blunt force impact.
A report released by the Justice Committee found that police refused to drive around witnesses who wanted to identify the gang members who allegedly committed the violent act. The report also says police failed to secure a key witness and allowed her to flee the country; in addition, the D.A. postponed the case 47 times and did not keep the family informed about any developments. Of the three arrested, Joseph Celso was the only one who stood trial, but was soon acquitted.
We want to put pressure on the city, state and federal government showing that someone killed in the hands of racism will not be tolerated!!! Please join this family’s fight for EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW.
Rally at 2pm where Manny was killed and step off to march at 3pm.
Justice Committee, P.O. Box 1885 NY NY 10159-1885
On a more personal note, this happened in a neighborhood I grew up in and the neighborhood where my children grew up in. Altragracia Mayi came to my older daughter’s first birthday party. This is history, this is the future of my children, this is familia.
Well, when we believe in peace, there is simply no room for complacency. The murders of James Byrd, Matthew Shepard, Jorge Steven Lopez, Marcelo Lucero, Luis Ramirez and countless others who were victims of violent “hate crimes” should be completely unacceptable to every human being; because we’re all human beings. It’s up to us to change the paradigm. I hear the world “tolerance” thrown around in the media when it comes to cases like the ones I mentioned above. One of the meanings of tolerance is “the capacity to endure pain or hardship.” Another is “the act of allowing something.” To me, those don’t seem to encompass acceptance, by any definition. So how about this? Instead of saying “we need to tolerate diversity” why not say, “we need to accept diversity.”
On Saturday evening I took the trip from NYC into it’s suburbs, specifically Patchogue, Long Island. On about an hour and a half drive out there, it’s easier to try and understand why immigrant communities are more isolated and why Lucero’s family and his case hasn’t gotten the support that it deserves. At only 5:30 at night, the streets were dark and isolated and I remembered the Southern Poverty Law Center report telling of people being driven off the rode and not walking alone after dark. This is a stark contrast to my immigrant hood where yes, people look over their shoulders and put their heads down as they pass the police that patrol, but it never stops. The traffic, the hum of conversation, musica and children. Stores stay open late as do restaurants. In Patchogue, at the end of a road that led to the tracks of the Long Island Railroad, a crowd of a few hundred gathered where Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero was killed by a gang of racist youth to remember.
Images from November 7, 2009 vigil remembering Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant killed in Patchogue, Long Island in a hate crime.
The Lucero family asked that the vigil not be political, rather that the message stay focused on peace and unity and everyone in attendance respected the wishes of the family, I will do that as well by not inserting political commentary here but rather just showing what I saw, heard, and felt.
Vigil in Memory of Marcelo Lucero
Saturday November, 7th @ 6:00pm
RailRoad Ave. Patchogue, NY
Religious Service to follow at Congregational Church 7:30pm
My family’s wish is to create a new environment of peace and unity for our community. We would like to invite members of all communities to share in the vigil in memory of my dear brother, Marcelo Lucero, on Saturday November 7 at 6pm next to the train station where he lost his life. Following the vigil, we will walk to the Congregational Church of Patchogue located on Main Street for a religious ceremony scheduled for 7:30pm. We request from all who attend to wear a white t-shirt in solidarity to share in this day of peace, healing and hope. Our message is no more violence but peace, no more racism but instead brotherhood and no more abuse rather respect.
During the vigil, we will collect donations for the Marcelo Lucero Scholarship that I created last year for the students of Patchogue-Medford HS and monies will also be used to send a mural to Gualaceo, Ecuador, which was created by Pat-Med students as a symbol of peace. If your organization would like to send a contribution in advance please write checks to: Marcelo Lucero Scholarship and send it directly to the Patchogue-Medford HS, 181 Buffalo Avenue, Medford, New York 11763.
Please be advised that this event will not be used for any political agendas. We would like to thank you in advance for your support and for respecting our wishes.
Hausch’s plea is apparently part of a deal in exchange for information on what happened the night Lucero was brutally attacked. Hausch had no problem yelling slurs at Lucero almost a year ago, but had problems speaking up before a judge.
In a barely audible voice, Hausch answered a prosecutor’s questions about the events that led to the slaying, admitting that he and his six co-defendants set out to search for Latinos to attack.
“Keep your voice up, young man,” the judge said to Hausch twice during the teen’s admissions.
Responding to questions from Assistant District Attorney Meghan O’Donnell, Hausch detailed three attacks he was involved in on Nov. 8, including the Lucero killing.
Before coming across Lucero, Hausch said the group pursued another man. “I got out of the car and I chased him. We were yelling at him,” calling him a derogatory name, he said….
Hausch faces 5 to 25 years in prison on the gang assault charge and will not be sentenced until the prosecution of the other six defendants is completed.