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