Long Island youths charged in killing of immigrant

On Nov. 20, six teenagers were arraigned in Suffolk County Criminal Court on multiple counts of gang assault and hate crimes in connection with the Nov. 8 killing of Ecuadoran immigrant Marcelo Lucero in the community of Patchogue on Long Island, NY. A grand jury indictment unsealed on Nov. 20 lays out additional charges against the same defendants for earlier crimes targeting Latin American immigrants. The judge set bail for five of the youths at $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond; bail was denied to a sixth defendant who has a prior felony conviction for a 2007 burglary in which an East Patchogue man was killed. A seventh teenager, 17-year-old Jeffrey Conroy, is scheduled to be arraigned on Nov. 24 on charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter as a hate crime; Conroy is accused of stabbing Lucero in the chest, killing him. All seven teens have pleaded not guilty in the attack on Lucero.

One of the defendants, 17-year-old Jose Pacheco, was described by the New York Times as being half African-American and half Puerto Rican. The other six youths are white. Suffolk County district attorney Thomas J. Spota said three of the defendants—including Pacheco—went out driving five days before Lucero was killed with the intent of, in their words, “beaner hopping.” They found a Hispanic man that day whom Pacheco admitted to punching and knocking out cold, Spota said. That man has not stepped forward. According to Spota, Pacheco later told the police, “I don’t go out and do this very often, maybe once a week.” (New York Times, Nov. 20)

Another defendant in the case, 17-year-old Jordan Dasch, is apparently of Jewish heritage. In his page on the social networking website MySpace, Dasch featured an image of a Jewish star with a Nazi swastika embedded in the middle, and laughingly referred to himself as a “Nazi Jew,” according to information posted on the website of Long Island WINS, an immigrant rights organization that managed to download the page before it was removed from MySpace. (New York Jewish Week, Nov. 22; Long Island WINS blog post, Nov. 10)

Lucero’s killing has sparked numerous vigils and protests in Long Island and beyond. More than 1,000 people gathered to honor Lucero in Patchogue on Nov. 14. (Newsday, Nov. 14) Also on Nov. 14, more than 30 people gathered with candles and signs in the community of Nanuet, in Rockland County, New York. (Journal News, Westchester County, Nov. 15) On Nov. 21, dozens of protesters gathered outside the Manhattan office of New York governor David Paterson to mourn Lucero’s death and demand the resignation of Suffolk County executive Steve Levy, who is accused of stirring up hate on Long Island with his outspoken stance against undocumented immigrants. (NY1 News, Nov. 22)

Meanwhile in Pennsylvania…

In Shenandoah, Penn., three teenagers charged in connection with the fatal beating last July of Mexican immigrant Luis Eduardo RamĂ­rez Zavala appeared in court on Nov. 13 and asked Schuylkill County judge William E. Baldwin to dismiss charges against them or have them tried separately. Baldwin took the defendants’ requests under advisement but did not indicate when he would rule. Schuylkill County detectives say that the three youths, along with a fourth teenager who is charged as a juvenile, yelled racial epithets as they beat RamĂ­rez on July 12. RamĂ­rez was hospitalized and died from his injuries on July 16. Two of the three defendants face third-degree murder charges; another is charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, criminal solicitation/hindering apprehension or prosecution, ethnic intimidation, corruption of minors, purchase or consumption of alcohol by a minor and selling or furnishing alcohol to minors. All three are free on bail pending further court action. Immigrant rights groups have continued to protest and attend hearings in Shenandoah to demand justice for Ramirez. (Republican Herald, Pottsville, PA, Nov. 14)

From Immigration News Briefs, Nov. 22

See our last posts on the politics of immigration and the struggle on Long Island.