U.S. Justice Meets LatinoJustice re: Suffolk County

Investigators from the U.S. Justice Department met in New York with LatinoJustice regarding allegations of anti-Latino bias in Suffolk County.

LatinoJustice's complaint charges Suffolk County government officials with violating the equal protection clause in its treatment of Latino residents; stirring up anti-Latino resentment, indulging bigots and promoting hate speech through its anti-Latino immigrant proposals -- culminating in the hate killing of Marcelo Lucero in Patchogue.

While the DOJ has not yet launched a formal investigation, their presence last week in New York is reassuring.

As for the response from Suffolk officials, the usually ultra chatty Steve Levy has gone silent--as have his co-conspirators in the legislature. However, the county police are said to welcome any investigation--although spokesman Tim Motz claims that Suffolk's "hate crime statistics are essentially the same" as in other jurisdictions.

In addition to insulting the intelligence of county residents, the Long Island Latino community, the memory of Marcelo Lucero, as well as most U.S. counties without official campaigns against Latino immigrants, Mr. Motz misses an essential point: that the county's numbers are totally out-of-whack with reality -- reflecting the possibility of a systemic failure to protect Latinos residents.

Recommendation for Mr. Motz: Read the LatinoJustice complaint to learn about what's really happening in Suffolk County.

Moreover, the concern is not that hate crimes only happen in Suffolk County. No one is saying that. The concern for Latinos in Suffolk is that authorities are actively fomenting anti-Latino hostility. And it's not just the county. DOJ should also look at the embedded biases in the code enforcement, provision of services, staffing, and policing practices of a number of towns and villages--often in coordination with the county.

So, Mr. Motz and Mr. Levy should also welcome more 'sanctuary' sessions of the sort held at the church in Patchogue in which residents can step forward and tell the truth without fear, right? At least 20 hate victims came forward in Patchogue. How many more are out there that the bright lights of Suffolk County don't know about?

And while they're at it, perhaps DOJ should look closely at the embedded practices and attitudes which systematically undermine the rights of racial "minorities". For example, why are at-large election districts which ensure African American and Latino political under representation allowed? Why are racially segregated and unequal public schools condoned? How is it that Long Island manages to remain one of the most segregated places in the country even though people of color are a significant portion of the overall population?


Southampton Town Staffer Benched for Racist Threats

A Town of Southampton staffer is on unpaid leave for allegedly sending other town employees racist and threatening messages related to the election of Barack Obama to the U.S. presidency. Town Supervisor Linda Kabot confirmed the case and that the U.S. Secret Service is involved.

Southampton Town employee suspended for sending racist messages


Gov. Paterson on Diffusing Hate on LI

Governor David Paterson has been working behind the scenes to diffuse tensions on Long Island in the aftermath of the hate murders of Marcelo Lucero in Patchogue and Jose Sucuzhañay in Bushwick.

Working through his Commissioner of Human Rights Commissioner Galen Kirkland, Paterson who sought to facilitate dialogue through a newly formed unity council.

Paterson's focus is clearly on touching the hearts and minds, i.e., changing the culture, so that healing and peace can take root in troubled families and communities. His prescription includes:

A focus on youth.

"Most of the uprisings are from younger people who are taking the antagonistic words of their elders and manifesting them in violence. Adults, you see, are grown-ups. They've got jobs... and for the most part they don't have time to swing baseball bats at each other because this is not going to be productive."
A call to parents to watch what they teach the children.

"There are citizens who are good citizens, but who may have contributed to the problem in the privacy of their own homes. They are spawning contempt and bias with some very loathsome things they have to say to their family members."
And a call on the community to resist the destructive influences of hate.

"People have to realize that they are ... getting a reputation, like a Skokie. Hate is not good for the economy, not good for the quality of life, not good for our home values, not good for our children."
Link: Guv lends support to Island anti-hate measures

Photo: Gov. Paterson's spring visit to Hempstead High School.(Audrey C. Tiernan, Newsday)


Bushwick Vigil for José Sucuzhañay

This photo is from Boy in Brooklyn's multimedia coverage of the December 14th Vigil in Bushwick, Brooklyn for slain José Sucuzhañay.

Less than 24 hours after news of José Sucuzhañay's death broke, people from across the city gathered in Bushwick to pay tribute to the Ecuadorian immigrant and to demand an end to hate and bias-motivated hate crimes. New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn [D-Chelsea], City Councilwoman Diana Reyna [D-Bushwick], Congressman Anthony Weiner, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, state Sen. Tom Duane [D-Chelsea], New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson and representatives from various Ecuadorian, LGBT and Latino advocacy organizations were among those who gathered at Grove Street and Myrtle Avenue. And several hundred people subsequently marched to hold vigil on the corner where four men in an SUV viciously beat Sucuzhañay with a baseball bat and bottles early on Dec. 7.


Lenina Nadal: A Suburican Writer Searches for Home

Being a woman of color writer is a process of self-definition and a constant search for community. Though still searching, it seems to me that nothing touches my soul more than the lyrics of those who challenge the political and cultural boundaries of American society.

"Suburican" is a Boricua raised in the suburbs, in other words, me. I was socialized in a racially segregated, relatively conservative city in Long Island, Long Beach, NY. While there was always a shallow acceptance or "tolerance" of others, the school's tracking system, housing patterns, and areas of employment revealed a town that was narrowly divided around race and class.

While progressive English teachers incorporated " The House on Mango Street" and "Down These Mean Streets" into the curriculum, I only knew of Latino literature as reflecting the immigrant experience and talking about "growing up." So instead of relating to author Piri Thomas as a validator of my existence, I was mostly intrigued by the lives of Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, George Elliot, James Baldwin and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Like these authors, I felt alienated from my community because I saw past the "we are all the same" agenda pushed and crammed into our brains by every teacher that uttered the word diversity. Even after a 100 person race riot in our high school's cafeteria, we were still not allowed to have our own clubs based on ethnicity or talk about blatant divisions. It seemed that any time we spoke of race as an issue, we were encouraged to believe it was an illusion.

This frustration led to me to adopting the style and demeanor of the non-conformist, I was a woman poet, Puerto Rican Beatnik, my religion, transcendentalism, my music, alternative and classic rock. Reading Nuyorican poetry opened my eyes to a type of Latino literature where the poet was symbiotic with a social movement, living in another dimension, testing boundaries.



Marga Gomez: Long Island Iced Latina

In this clip of her recent SF show, Marga Gomez talks about the emotional high of Barack Obama's election followed by the low of the California Gay marriage ban. She knows how to turn pain into laughter. It's what good comics do.

The daughter of Cuban comedian Wilfredo Gomez (aka, Willy Chevalier) and Puerto Rican dancer Margarita Estremera, Marga was raised in the extremes that are Manhattan and Massapequa. She loved Manhattan. Massapequa was torturous. Aside from the Gomez stage gene, it was her experience as a lonely and only Latina at the Massapequa High School that really drew her to comedy.

It's those formative years trying to survive in the hometown of Jessica Hahn and Joey Buttafuoco that provides material for Marga's upcoming comedic venture -- Long Island Iced Latina. Here's the blurb:

Gomez continues to workshop this intoxicating comedic memoir of her awkward adolescence in Massapequa, Long Island, mixing equal parts cultural confusion, chronic virginity, mother-daughter instability and a splash of polyester fashion to paint a sardonic picture of her uprooted life as the new brown girl in a white high school.

January 8 – January 17, 2009
Marga Gomez’s
The Marsh Theatre
1062 Valencia
San Francisco, California
Two weeks of Workshop Performances
Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 8 pm
Tickets $15-$50
Marga Gomez - MySpace
Marga Gomez Videos
The Marsh's new Winter-Spring season
Marga Gomez -Wikipedia
Marga Gomez -Answers

From Miss Gomez to “jaded lesbian,” Marga Gomez grows up?

For the record: I have friends and family members that live in Massapequa--and its a fine place.


The War on Latino Immigrants Escalates: Jose Osvaldo Sucuzhañay Slain in Bushwick

Another Latino has been murdered in the glacial moraine known as Long Island.

Jose Osvaldo Sucuzhañay and his brother Romel were savagely attacked early Monday morning by a gang wielding beer bottles and bats. Jose was pronounced brain dead yesterday. The attack occurred in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn (Southwestern Long Island).

As in the killing of Marcelo Lucero a month earlier in Patchogue, Long Island, and the earlier slaying of Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, PA, the attackers were a hate-filled pack of thugs prowling the night in search of victims. In all three cases, the gangs zeroed in on Latino immigrants walking home.

Unlike the other murders, the attackers in Bushwick were Black and they escaped in an SUV. In addition to using anti-Latino slurs, the attackers used anti-gay slurs in the mistaken belief that the brothers were a gay couple.

The domestic war against Latinos escalates with Jose and the Sucuzhañay family as its latest victims. But while nativists focus like a laser beam in waging their ugly war, the larger community of decent Americans are asleep at the switch. The result is that it's literally open season on Latinos--especially on the most vulnerable working late hours and travelling on foot or bicycle.

Photo: Diego Sucuzhañay, brother of Jose, addressing the media

Attack on Ecuadorean Brothers Investigated as Hate Crime
Brooklyn victim of bias attack Jose Sucuzhanay taken off life support
Task force hunting Brooklyn thugs in hate attack on immigrant


Keeping Latino Immigrants Safe in Patchogue

At the invitation of businessman and activist Fernando Mateo, Curtis Sliwa's Guardian Angels have begun patrolling the streets of the Village of Patchogue - site of the hate murder of Marcelo Lucero. The red-capped civic brigade will add a measure public safety through their presence and vigilance. Appropriately, a number of the Angels are bilingual.

However, Sliwa's commitment to Patchogue is likely temporary -- as well as it should be. So it's incumbent upon Village government, civic associations and public safety officials to formulate solutions for keeping the streets safe for all of its residents.


Revealed: Scores of Suffolk County Immigrants Victims of Hate Attacks

Reverend Dwight Lee Wolter put out the word that last night (i.e., Wednesday) the Congregational Church of Patchogue would serve as a safe space -- a Sanctuary -- for victims of hate crimes to tell their stories.

This video is shocking evidence that County Executive Steve Levy's claim that hate crimes against Latinos have fallen dramatically under his tenure is, well, NOT TRUE! Pure fiction. BS.

Some 30 immigrants gave accounts of the hate crimes committed against in just the last year and a half. And those are just the cases organizers had time to document, in a few hours, in a small corner of a sprawling county.

Imagine what would happen if opened in every community across Suffolk County! Stay tuned to the one day story with legs.

An Evening for Marcelo's Mom in Patchogue - Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

This evening is dedicated to the spirit of community healing and unity in the wake of the tragic death of Marcelo Lucero and in particular to his mother, Rosario. All donations collected will go directly to Rosario Lucero in Ecuador.

Schedule of Events
Solemn Candlelight Procession & Vigil – 6:30 p.m.
Gather at Railroad Ave./Sephton St., near the site where Marcelo died.
Process to Congregational Church of Patchogue (95 E. Main St.)
No Signs Please • Group Banners Welcome • Rain or Shine

Congregational Church of Patchogue – 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. Candlelight Prayer/Reflection • Performances by Musicians, Singers, Poets • Art Exhibit Courtesy of Projecting Art • LI WINS Table • Free Will Offering for Rosario Lucero Fund Concert to Benefit Rosario Lucero at Blue Point Brewing Co. – 8:30 p.m. Featuring Jack’s Waterfall, Jay Scott and others. Tickets $40. Call 631-475-6944 for information/tickets.

Satellite Events
BrickHouse Brewery (631-447-2337) and Once & For All (631-447-0519) will be raising money for the Rosario Lucero Fund the night of December 12.
On December 11, The Katie Pearlman Band, Jordan Hope, Cathy Kreger & Jack Licitra perform Live in the Lobby at the Patchogue Theatre (71 E. Main St.). Musicians will donate a portion of their CD sales to the Rosario Lucero Fund. Tickets $10.

For further information about An Evening for Marcelo’s Mom,
Contact: oceanofjoy129@aol.com

¡Somos todos uno

Co-Sponsors (as of Dec. 3) : The Incorporated Village of Patchogue • Jack’s Waterfall Live in the Lobby at the Patchogue Theatre
• Blue Point Brewing Company • Alianza Ecuatoriana Internacional • Congregational Church of Patchogue
• BrickHouse Brewery • Once & For All • South Country Peace Group • LI WINS • Projecting Art • WUSB Radio • WRCN Radio • Patchogue Business Improvement District • North Country Peace Group • Patchogue Arts Council • St. Joseph the Worker Pax Christi • Little Portion Friary • Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stony Brook • Long Island Friends of WBAI • Christopher Collaborative Incorporated • Temple Beth El of Patchogue • Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bellport • The American Jewish Committee, Long Island Chapter Latino/Jewish Council of Long Island • Greater Patchogue Foundation • Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce • United Methodist Church of Patchogue



Patchogue Church as Safe Space for Latino Hate Victims - 12/3, 6-9PM


The Congregational Church of Patchogue
95 East Main Street
Patchogue, New York, 11772

People who believe they are the victim of hate, harassment, injury, or attack simply because they are Latino, have the right to tell their story in a safe and supportive environment. But if such persons are afraid, for whatever reason, to report the incident to the police or other agencies, or if they did report the incident, but their statement was not accurately recorded; then the need for an alternative place and method of reporting becomes apparent.

That is why the Congregational Church of Patchogue has offered to be a sanctuary church where people are encouraged to come and be heard on Wednesday, December 3rd between 6 and 9PM at the Congregational Church of Patchogue, the site of the funeral of Marcelo Lucero.

Many who come may lack evidence or witnesses that could result in legal action. But simply telling their story, and feeling listened to, often results in an experience of healing that may never be found in a court of law. Even so, we will advocate for those who come seeking accountability and justice.


The spirituality of peace and reconciliation must have an equal seat at the table of justice. May we continue with the many good things about us, face and accept the bad ~ and may we become a powerful example of a community transformed by tragedy into a place of peace and justice, so that Marcelo Lucero will not have died in vain.

Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter
Congregational Church of Patchogue


Inspector Aristedes Mojica Takes Over The 5th Precinct

Inspector Aristedes Mojica, 50, has assumed command of the 5th precinct in a shake-up intended to re-establish Latino community trust in the Suffolk County Police. The 5th Precinct includes the Village of Patchogue where Marcelo Lucero was murder by a youth gang looking to assault Latinos. It's also home to Farmingville where an immigrant family's home was fire-bombed. There have been numerous other incidents -- reported and unreported -- in the precinct.

A veteran police official, Mojica is the County's highest ranking Latino officer. His parents and grandparents were from Puerto Rico. He spoke briefly to CW11 about his new assignment.

Link: Hispanic Officer to Lead Troubled Suffolk County Precinct


Action Center for Justice for Marcelo Lucero

Action Center for Justice for Marcelo Lucero seeks an end the scapegoating of immigrants by the Suffolk Legislature and County Executive Steve Levy and the enactment of meaningful measures to bring the county's 200,000 immigrants into full inclusion in Suffolk's life.

Created by Patrick Young, it's an information and mobilization center on the LIWins website for channelling the public's outrage over the hate killing of Marcelo Lucero into actions for change.

In its Legislative Action are these items:

Rally and Speak Out for Justice for Marcelo Lucero at the Suffolk Legislature on Tuesday Dec. 2 at 8:30AM

Ask County Executive Steve Levy and Suffolk County legislators to:
1. End the cynical rhetoric demonizing immigrants;
2. Stop introducing legislation that results in profiling immigrants;
3. Create a 5-year plan to integrate immigrants in Suffolk County.

Other site offerings include:
Upcoming Events
What You Can Do To Help
The Background to Tragedy
Condolences Page
Collected Blogs


Hempstead's Barack Obama Elementary School

On Thursday night, the Hempstead School District in Long Island voted to rename Ludlum Elementary School, Barack Obama Elementary School. The school is diverse with a large Latino and African American student body and the students and staff requested the name change to honor this diversity and the election of the first African American president. Before the election, the students had mock debates and a mock election.

The board and staff of this under-performing school district must now ensure a quality education for all of its children. That's the only honest way to honor its mission and the name of President-elect Obama.

Seven National Civil Rights Groups Denounce the Hate Murder of Marcelo Lucero

Seven of the nation's leading civil rights organizations gathered today in Washington, DC to collectively condemn the hate killing of Marcelo Lucero, and to denounce the recent wave of brutal hate crimes against communities of color.

The groups include: the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the National Urban League,the NAACP and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). The groups attribute a spike in hate crimes to the “climate of hate” created by nativist politicians, radio "shock jocks" and anti-immigrant groups.

Click here for their joint statement and here for the video of the press conference.


L.I. Nativists On Display (in more ways than one)

Long Island nativists protest not the killing of Marcelo Lucero, but a newspaper's coverage of that hateful act.

Twisted, right?

To them it's unAmerican for the newspaper -- Newsday -- to give more than cursory coverage to an act which repulsed all decent Americans and whose fallout will be felt for some time to come.

But what Newsday's coverage -- and the angry protestations it's provoked from racists and nativists -- reveals a bit of Long Island's dark side: a legacy of racism with its tribal impulse to scapegoat the weak and powerless.

Shamelessly, these nativists wrap themselves in the American flag -- as so many hatemongers before them have done. If only today's protesters really cared about the protections and safeguards written into the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Bill of Rights. If only they could just once put down their pitchforks.

But it's clear from their tantrums, anonymously comments and threats, haters love to hate but they prefer to do it clandestinely. Of course, in the light of day they're "patriots".

The following are just some of the ill-informed, hateful and distorted views posted on Newsday.com by those angered by the newspaper's excellent reporting on the Marcelo Lucero hate killing:

It's ok that when whites kill a minority, newsday gives the victim 3 pages a day, but 25 Americans a day are killed at the hands of illegal aliens in this country due to drunk driving, murder and job accidents but that never gets mentioned.

Buy the way..you can't walk the streets here during the DAY or NIGHT, due to the fact that there are PACKS of hispanics walking the streets here in Patchogue…

If the THOUSADNS of AMERICANS killed by Illegal Aliens each year got this much attention it would be all we read !!!

Non-white Americans are being taught to hate Whites under the guise of tolerance.

I have no intentions of ever setting foot on LI again- and sadly, much of the rest of this country is fast turning into the same kind of slum- and just wait till the water-melon rinds and chicken bones start flying from the White House windows come January!

This violence is the tip of the iceberg and the only ones that will be to blame are the illegals and our weak ass backstabbing government.

This has led to much violence from both sides. The citizens are being preyed upon by the illegals and our officials look the other way.

I am tired of hearing about illegal aliens coming to the U.S. and trying to make a better life for themselves and their families back home. don't succumb to anti-immigration activists.

I think newsday's continued front page rehashing of this story is inciting a riot type of mentality.

The Newsday commissars constantly tell you that…Diversity and multiracialism is grand. Find the pamphlet "Who Rules America" on the web and take the info from there to expand your reawakening.

People are sick and tired of their neighborhoods being turned into third world countries…

take a look at the wall of shame.....ok, look at least 60% of the people on there are illegals. 28 of 117 (24%) Latino; zippo info on immigration status

Only a person with the last name Martinez, would write such BULL. Believe me if I could move out of this town today I WOULD!

The best thing that happened to this Newspaper and these sleazy pro-Illegal pro - Welfare groups, was this murder, they revel in it. It's a huge gift for them!

this hasn't stopped for over a week now and the more you are printing this everyday the more you are not letting anyone heel. it is making things worse in the schools and the community, on both sides!!!!!!

Why is it ok for them to break the law. Why is ok for them to take over towns and making them look like the third world country they are running from.

My problem is that ILLEGAL immigrants are bringing their oppressed 3rd world behavior into my country and think their ENTITLED for the red carpet treatment. They should be GRATEFUL!!! But their not.


The Retrieval and Funeral of Marcelo Lucero

Video-Journalist Ana P. Gutierrez captures the Lucero and Gualaceo's deep sorrow of the retrieval and funeral of the martyred Marcelo.

The arrival of the body of Marcelo Lucero in Ecuador.

Marcelo's funeral in his hometown of Gualaceo.

Aljazeera on the Murder of Marcelo Lucero


The Hispanic Coalition of LI Responds to the Hate Killing of Marcelo Lucero

The following is a translation of The Hispanic Coalition of Long Island's opinion piece (Coalición responde a muerte de Lucero) published in today's El Diario.
En Español
It is with deep sorrow and renewed determination that The Hispanic Coalition of Long Island responds to the recent brutal and racially motivated murder of an innocent man, the Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero.

The act is still more horrendous when we consider that it was perpetrated by children…a group of adolescents…that, for complex reasons, felt that hunting people who looked "Mexican" was viable option. In a society we believe to be civilized, where is that the children learn that hatred, racism, and violence are options? How sad that an innocent life has been taken without cause, that so many lives have been permanently damaged, and that in the process, the youths have done great harm to themselves, their families, and their community.

Above all, our coalition desires to extend our sincere condolences to the Lucero family and to offer our support and services to them in their hour of need. We also give thanks to all of the leaders that have fought for justice over the years, advocating for the many voiceless immigrants.

We give thanks to community leaders and elected officials that have responded to this tragedy by attempting to build bridges of understanding and acceptance, instead of settling for mere tolerance, and community for all, instead of the exclusion and marginalization of some.

The Hispanic Coalition of Long Island represents the majority of the professional human services that are provided to the fast-growing Hispanic populations of Nassau and Suffolk counties. Our mission is to promote the advancement of the Hispanic community, with a focus on economic betterment, political empowerment, and strengthened public commitment towards improving the quality of life for all of Long Island's families and children.

Suffolk County needs a new, realistic and humane direction. It needs a new approach that recognizes the changes that have taken place, and that provides a compassionate and just solution to the challenges of a diverse society. History has taught us that change cannot be prevented. It teaches us as well that social and economic marginalization, and the exploitation of a group of people, always ends in violence.

Our coalition is opposed to any legislation and policies that marginalize immigrants and promote the abuse of immigrants and their children (our new citizens). We oppose any politician who lacks compassion and who fails to support policies that seek to promote understanding and equality.

Additionally, it is the belief of the members of the coalition that racism is based on ignorance and fear, which children are taught at home – subtly or not so subtly. Parents and other adults need to be educated on diversity and the complex reality of today's world. We recommend that schools work to educate parents on multicultural communications, diversity and acceptance, so that they, in turn, will be better prepared to provide their children with a timely perspective, guidance, and solutions to the challenges caused by differences and societal changes.

María Elisa Cuadra, President, Hispanic Coalition of Long Island and Executive Director, COPAY Inc. Great Neck.
Gil Bernardino, Executive Director, Círculo de la Hispanidad, Long Beach and Hempstead.
Pascual Blanco, Executive Director, La Fuerza Unidad, Glen Cove.
José Calderón, Vice President, The Hispanic Federation New York, NY and Washington, DC.
Miriam García, Executive Director, Adelante of Suffolk County, Brentwood.
Margarita Grasing, Executive Director, Hispanic Brotherhood, Rockville Centre.
Nadia Marín-Molina, Executive Director, Workplace Project, Hempstead.
Gladys Serrano, Executive Director, Hispanic Counseling, Bayshore and Hempstead.
George Siberon, Executive Director, Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association.


Immigrant Advocates to Suffolk County Legislature: Change Your Tone

As the nation -- and, indeed, the world -- has begun to understand, immigrants in Suffolk County have been targets of an ugly nativist war. A multi-front war that's included:

-a firebombing
-escalating threats and assaults
-racial profiling
-a flurry of anti-immigrant codes
-forced separations
-attempted murder
-and most recently, the slaying of Marcelo Lucero for being Latino.
In their continued fight on behalf of immigrants, civil and human rights advocates went to the Suffolk County Legislature's 1st public session post the killing. Their demands were for Suffolk to cease its politics of scapegoating Latino immigrants, and instead, take a stand against hate.

While too soon to gauge the impact of recent developments (including the Marcelo killing, discovery of a rash of other bias crimes, a Steve Levy apology of sorts, and global condemnation), the stoic expressions of the nativist pandering caucus was not reassuring.

Hope I'm wrong. After all, nativism is a political loser when exposed to the full light of day.

Nonetheless, the courageous band of advocates stood tall as they continued a tradition of speaking truth to power. As they have so often these last few very troubling years, they spoke eloquently and passionately on behalf of the Suffolk's hardworking, yet much maligned, immigrant workers.

- Patrick Young of the Central American Resource Center raked the county administration for its ludicrous propaganda that bias crimes against Latinos are down 93% in the past four years.

- Catherine Carballerri and Sonia Palacio-Grottola, of the National Association of Puerto Rican & Hispanic Social Workers, also questioned Suffolk's bias crime data when their profession sees a spike. They also warned about the trauma immigrant children are suffering.

- Lisa Tarrant Votino of Long Island Wins offered to partner with the legislature in formulating a more constructive approach to immigrants. She also charged that there's a difference between debating immigration policy and dehumanizing a whole people.

- Michael O'Neil of the East Hampton Anti-Bias Task Force admonished the legislature for ignoring the pleas, recommendations and warnings of Latino and immigrant leaders. He recommended that the County engage the leaders of Latino and immigrant residents when formulating proposals affecting their communities.

- Dr. Luis Valenzuela of the LI Immigrant Alliance called on the Legislature to stop its unwise intrusion into immigration policy, and instead, support the passage of national comprehensive immigration reform. He said that Suffolk could and should become a national model for suburban diversity and civility.

- Charlotte Koons and Andrea Callan, of the Suffolk chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union, challenged Suffolk to 'legislate and educate the hate away.'

Related: Pleas to heal community directed at Suffolk legislators
Latino community asks legislature to listen. Just listen!

Top photo: (L-R) Lisa Tarrant Votino, Andrea Callan, Charlotte Koons, Dr. Luis Valenzuela, Michael O'Neil
Bottom photo: Patrick Young speaking to a reporter

LIIA to Steve Levy: Change Suffolk's Immigrant Policies

“My brother left a message, a legacy in this country, one of unity and appreciation.” – Joselo Lucero, brother of slain Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero.

Statement of Luis Valenzuela, Executive Director, Long Island Immigrant Alliance:

The senseless murder of Marcelo Lucero, a good and decent man who lived in Suffolk County for sixteen years, has brought the Suffolk community together to grieve and demand an end to hate.

When Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy delivers an address on race and tolerance on Tuesday, he has an opportunity to distance himself from the divisive rhetoric and policies he and other Suffolk politicians promoted in the past.

Out of this tragedy, there is a chance for Mr. Levy to lead Suffolk toward more practical policies that reduce tensions and build a stronger community.

To start with, it’s time to stop the divisive legislation and instead Mr. Levy and the legislature must seize the opportunity to act on serious proposals that can improve the situation here in Suffolk.

This horrendous crime and other recent attacks on immigrants make it clear that Suffolk police need to formally adopt a confidentiality policy to reassure crime victims and witnesses that they can reach out to Suffolk police without fear of deportation.

Marcelo Lucero need not have died in vain. We can honor his life by ensuring that his legacy is in forging unity and finding solutions.

The Long Island Immigrant Alliance stands ready to work with Mr. Levy and the county legislature on more inclusive policies that promote the well-being of all Suffolk residents.


Rosario Lucero and Gualaceo Mourn

Speaking from her home in Gualaceo, Ecuador, Rosario Lucero -- the grieving mother of the Long Island hate murder victim Marcelo Lucero -- spoke to video-journalist Ana P. Gutierrez.

Ms. Gutierrez captures the dignity, faith and sorrow of the people of Gualaceo in mourning.


Vigil for Marcello Lucero -- A LI Latino Awakening?

I joined 1,000 or so of my fellow Longer Islanders at last night's outdoor vigil in in Patchogue for Marcello Lucero.

It was a diverse crowd, young and old, Latino and nonLatino. They came from the Latino precincts of the Patchogue area, as well as from communities across the length of Long Island, including Astoria, Jackson Heights, Sunset Park, Corona, Elmont, Hempstead, Long Beach, Glen Cove, Freeport, Amityville, Huntington, Brentwood, Central Islip, Southampton, Montauk. Some travelled from New Jersey and points further west.

The crowd though was comprised mostly of Latino immigrants -- most I suspect from Ecuador.

The vigil was held at the very site of Marcello's murder, on a street along side the Patchogue commuter rail station. It's the back and poorly lit side of the rail station, so one can easily see why the thugs would chose to do their evil work there.

Under a steady drizzle one mourner said were 'tears from heaven', the vigil included prayers, chants, speeches and songs offered in Spanish, English and sometimes in both. Many in the audience held flickering candles. Many held home-made signs protesting Marcello's murder or demanding an end to hate. A lit shrine with a large photo of Marcello, religious artifacts, messages and flowers drew a wall of bereaved a hundred deep.

Especially touching was that a two other vigils were held simultaneously last night: One in Marcello's hometown in Ecuador and another in Nanuet, New York. The proceedings in Patchogue were heard by Marcello's mother via cellphone.

People speaking from the podium included a number of politicians:

- State Senator Malcolm Smith of Queens who promised to use the full weight of the state to protect New York's immigrant communities.

- Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri who spoke about his family's own immigrant origins in a small town in Italy and how the death of Marcello has wounded the community he loves and has lived in all of his life.

- Assemblyman Phil Ramos condemned the murder of Marcello and the pattern of anti-Latino immigrant violence that has been a shameful part of Suffolk life. He spoke about his experience as a former Suffolk police officer in which he responded to several horrific acts of racist violence against Latino Immigrants.

There were labor leaders who rallied the crowd with chants of 'Justicia', 'Yes, We Can!' and 'Un Pueblo Unido No Puede Ser Vencido!'.

A number of Latin American nations sent their representatives, including Ecuador's Ambassador to the United Nations, embassy officials from Venezuela, El Salvador and others.

There were religious leaders including the Imam of Long Island's Muslim community who offered prayers and solidarity.

Marcello's younger brother spoke again about the need to stop the violence against immigrants who he described as good people, hardworking people.

Latino and immigrant leaders addressed the mourners, including Dr. Luis Valenzuela who called for Suffolk County politicians to stop bashing immigrants. Another noted that Lucero means 'bright star' in Spanish and that Marcello was shining a light towards a better place from his perch in heaven.

Finally, one very animated speaker--whose name and role I didn't get--opened his comments with 'good morning' even though it was night. It wasn't a mistake. His point was that Long Island's Latino community has been asleep for too long, reluctant to stand up for itself. But that last night's large turn out was a sign to him that the community has awakened.

Video: Newsday
Photos: Gerry Vazquez


Patchogue Press Conference & Rally Against Hate - Video & Photos 11/12/08

1) Joselo spoke lovingly about his older brother Marcello whom he described as a peaceful and hard working person.

He also confided that he had been feeling very lonely as a result of his loss, but that the expressions of support gave him comfort.

What was also touching was watching Joselo receive that comfort from his fellow Latino immigrants. While Joselo waited in the back of the crowd for his turn to talk, quietly, one-by-one, women and men approached Joselo to offer condolences, a hug or a hug. It was very moving.

2) Speaking as a fellow Latino immigrant (Dominicana), former educator, parent and Suffolk County Deputy Presiding Officer, Vivian Viloria-Fisher expressed -- in Spanish and English -- her condolences to Joselo and the Lucero family.

She also called for united across racial, ethnic and class divides because 'we're one Suffolk'.

3)Nassau County Legislator David Mejias expressed his condolences and those of his Ecuatorian immigrant mother to the Lucero family.

Mejias also relayed how he became angry when he first heard of the slaying, but remembered the faith taught to him by his mother to hate the sin but love the sinner.

Mejias sought to model his faith by embracing Jack Eddington -- the county legislator for Patchogue and a supporter of anti-immigrant legislation.

4) Dr. Luis Valenzuela, executive director of the LI Immigrant Alliance, also expressed his condolences in Spanish and English to the Lucero family.

But unlike the other speakers, Dr. Valenzuela went further than merely calling for unity which may not happen if key leaders don't change their ways. He connected the hate killing of Mr. Lucero directly to the poisonous atmosphere promoted over the last few years by nativist-pandering legislators and County Executive Steve Levy -- and he demanded change.

Specifically, Dr. Valenzuela demanded that the legislator representing Patchogue--Eddington--never again promote anti-immigrant policies.

5) Joselo also spoke about the need to teach young right from wrong.

Unfortunately, for some it's always just about politics. Inter cut in this video is local schools superintendent Michael Mostow boasting that in four years he's only had one racial incident. This is also the fellow who spent his time at the mic shamelessly lobbying for more state funding.

Headlines: The Murder of Marcello Lucero in Suffolk County - 11/12-11/13/08

Spanish-Language Media Decries Long Island Hate Crime - New American Media 11/13/08

A Killing in a Town Where Latinos Sense Hate - NYTimes 11/13/08

It happened again — Another Latino immigrant killed by white teens! - LatinoPoliticalBlog 11/13/08

Levy’s plan to fight hate - LI Biz Blog 11/13/08

Steve Levy: Leaderless in Suffolk? - SpinCycle-Newsday 11/12/08

Levy must be bolder - HartfordCourant-Newsday 11/13/08

Mother mourns Patchogue stabbing victim - Newsday 11/13/08

It happened again — Another Latino immigrant killed by white teens! - Latinopoliticalblog 11/13/08

Town Still Torn Over Immigrant Murder - CBS Evening News 11/13/08

Racial, sexual graffiti found on cars near Mastic homes - HartfordCourant 11/13/08

Hate Runs Wild: Race Woes Plague LI Nabe Where Teens Became 'Killers' - NYPost 11/13/08

Much Work Left To Do - Southampton Press 11/13/08

Residents Denounce Murder Of Immigrant, Protest "Anti-Latino" Bill - Guanabee 11/12/08

Levy walking fine line in reaction to immigrant death - Newsday 11/12/08

Speakers denounce attack on immigrant, urge tolerance - Newsday 11/12/08

Ku Klux Klan literature dropped at Islip Terrace homes - Newsday 11/12/08

Vigilia para Marcello Lucero: 14 de Noviembre - Intutive Intertexuality 11/12/08

Latinos Increasingly Targeted For Hate Crimes - NPR 11/12/08

Uncle Of Accused Patchogue Gang Member Fires Back - WCBSTV 11/13/08

Advocates say rhetoric fuels anti-Hispanic crime - Huffington Post 11/12/08

Editorial: Suffolk’s big mess - LI Business News 11/12/08

Hate Speech Has Consequences - It happened again, another Hispanic/Latino murdered, lynched? - El Rinconcito de Aurora 11/12/08

Patchogue stabbing victim's mother mourns - Newsday 11/12/08

An Island of racists? - LIBizBlog 11/12/08

Harvest of hatred - Impre.com 11/12/08

Levy remains under seige - LIBizBlog 11/12/08

Anti-Immigrant/Anti-Latino Hate Claims Another Vida: Marcello Lucero - VivirLatino 11/12/08

LI Lynch Mob Murders Ecudorian Immigrant Marcello Lucero - Gangbox: Construction Workers News Service 11/11/08

Hate Crime Against a Latino - iHispano 11/11/08