Friday, January 30, 2009

Was Marcelo Lucero the Tip of the Iceberg?

On Wednesday Suffolk County prosecutors announced even more charges against the seven teens accused of beating and killing Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero. The accused, Jeffrey Conroy (17, the principle defendant who is accused of plunging a knife into Lucero's chest as his friends beat the victim), Christopher Overton (16), Jose Pacheco (17), Kevin Shea (17), Nicholas Hausch (17), Jordan Dasch (17), and Anthony Hartford (17) face more charges in connection with incidents in which Latino men were beaten unconscious and robbed, beaten with a pipe while being told he would be killed, and held down while being slashed with a knife. Prosecutors say that the teens went on violent sprees that targeted Latinos for 13 months before the Lucero killing.

Many questions arise from this. One of them is: were these incidents fully investigated? If this was going on for thirteen months did no one know what was going on? Some have stated that the Suffolk Police Department did not do enough when the racially-motivated attacks were reported. This could very well be true, but there is no objective way to prove this and there is no possible way to know if more intense investigations of the previous attacks would have prevented Lucero's death.  To argue one way or another may vent anger or emotions, but very little progress towards justice would be made.

One question worth investigating: who knew about this? If the police did not follow up the way they should have, they know it and have to live with that decision because in the back of their minds, they know they did not do their job. And those who knew of the "beaner hopping" of these misguided teens should feel ashamed, for if they had reported such repugnant behavior maybe Marcelo Lucero would be alive. These people know who they are.

All of this being said, if there are people who a) know that these seven kids did this or b) know that there are other people out there doing this you have a moral responsibility to come forward. If you don't you are implicit in their cowardly actions. As Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." A good read for those who are on the fence about reporting their peers is "The Hangman" by Maurice Ogden. Don't expect anyone to speak up for you if you remain silent while others are victimized.

The suspects' bails were raised given the new revelations about the previous year's attacks. Hopefully these cases will result in convictions of these bigots and they will spend a lot of time in prison for taking a violent and racist yearlong journey to the cold-blooded murder of Marcelo Lucero. The ultimate irony of a conviction for these teens would be that they would go from a society where they are the majority and felt able to take advantage of a minority into a society where they are the minority (in 2001 whites made up 16% of prisoners while Latinos made up 31% of prisoners and in 2005 80% of New York inmates were black or Latino) and may suffer similar abuses that they inflicted upon their minority counterparts. Peace.

Photos - Nicholas Hausch, Christopher Overton, Jordan Dasch, Anthony Hartford, and Jose Pacheco (l. to r.) (New York Times)

1 comment:

  1. I hate the fact that so many people out there think they are superior to minorities. I think all 7 young men that were involved in the murder of Mr. Lucero should definitely be punished, and not just by fines and probation but by many years in prison. If we don't give harsher punishments to these young individuals, they as well as others will never learn a lesson. I am devastated by the atrocities my own race has committed!!