Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Medford-Patchogue Continues to Cope with Racially Motivated Murder

More charges - and details - have emerged in the murder of Marcelo Lucero at the hands of 7 teens from Eastern Long Island. According to prosecutors, they are looking into whether some of the teens charged in the beating of Lucero had been involved in another beating of another immigrant. The seven teens apparently made a habit of going out and hunting down defenseless Latino residents to harass and beat on, referring to it as "beaner hopping." One of the defendants, Jose Pacheco, 17, admits to going out with two of the other defendants, Anthony Hartford and Kevin Shea, and knocking out a Latino man cold (the victim has yet to step forward). Pacheco perplexingly told authorities that it was a rarity for him to go out and do something like this: "I don't go out and do this very often, maybe once a week."

What is funny is that a lot of people are coming out and saying, "Oh, some of these kids can't be racist - they have Latino backgrounds," or "Look, they hang out with people of other races." Your background has nothing to do with whether you're a racist or not - your mindset does. If you do not like a person because of the color of their skin or their ethnicity or whatever, you're bigoted; it doesn't matter if you happen to share that skin color or ethnicity. And even if you hang out with people of other races, you can still be racist. If you go "beaner hopping" and attack innocent Latinos because of their ethnic background it does not matter who you hang out with. Let's put it this way: think about Southern slave owners. Some were very close personally to their slaves, some of them even had affairs with them (*cough* Thomas Jefferson *cough*). Would you argue that these Southern slave owners were not racist? Yet they hung out with people from other races and even fathered children with them.

One would think that this would be a time of reflection and deep introspection for the residents of the Patchogue-Medford area. But if the meeting held at the high school to discuss the incident is any indication, the human tendency to blame others when the shit hits the fan is alive and well. According to Newsday, many parents in the crowd at the meeting blamed the media attention that the ruthless attack has brought upon the community. A Newsday reporter, who was invited by principal Manuel Sanzone, began to be screamed at by the crowd and was physically removed by security despite making it clear that she had been invited by the principal who was holding the meeting. Meanwhile, the principal stood silent as the reporter was removed. If you can't even stand up to the forcible removal of a reporter you invited to the meeting, how are you going to stand up to prejudice and intolerance that led to the murder of an innocent man?

And today the New York Times came out with an article about the person who physically stabbed Lucero - Jeffrey Conroy - filled with quotes from family members and family friends saying the usual, "Oh my, I cannot believe it was him; he was such a good boy." Unfortunately for a lot of people, the way they act in public with their families and the way they act in private with their friends can be night and day (this case seems emblematic of that). Conroy could have been a great family member and all of that, but it does not change the fact that he plunged a knife into the chest of a man who had the audacity of being Latino. This is a kid who, according to police reports, has a swastika tattooed on his leg and was the ringleader of the "Caucasian Crew." Additionally, the Times article states that youths who additionally came forward and defended Conroy have backed off of these statements and have said that they were not, in fact, friends with him. One could see that coming, considering the Post had a picture of the accused group's "friends" running out of court, shielding their faces because they were ashamed to be friends with people who could do such things (because why would they shield their face if they believed that the men were innocent and being unfairly targeted by prosecutors?).

So while the charges have been upgraded for those involved - namely Conroy, who now faces second-degree murder as a hate crime - the six who were beating Lucero while Conroy stabbed him are still not being charged with murder, or at least manslaughter, and I ask, "Why not?" Their reckless actions led to the death of Marcelo Lucero and at the very least they are guilty of manslaughter. It's clear that not one of these individuals value human life (one of them was already involved in the death of somebody else). Hopefully as the anger dies down - and people stop blaming the media - the Patchogue-Medford community will be able to heal and move on from this hateful murder. Peace.

Photos - Jose Lucero, Marcelo's brother (New York Times), Jeffrey Conroy (center, in red) with his football team (New York Times), Marcel Lucero (Newsday), "Friends" of the 7 accused teens leaving the Patchogue courthouse (New York Post)

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