Lucero Trial: The Hunt For Latinos

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Unfortunately, this tragedy is a prelude to future atrocities and attacks against Hispanics. Given the demographic changes, relating to the increase of the Hispanic population, the immigration debate will continue to be used as an explosive political wedge issue with catastrophic consequences.

Lucero Trial: The Hunt For Latinos

[Speaking Truth To Power]

Last Wednesday jury deliberations began in the trial of 19-year-old Jeffrey Conroy who has been charged in the stabbing death of 37-year-old Ecuadorian immigrant, Marcelo Lucero, who was killed on Long Island in 2008.

Conroy has been charged with Second-degree murder as a hate crime, Second-degree murder, First-degree manslaughter as a hate crime, First-degree manslaughter, Second-degree manslaughter as a hate crime and Second-degree manslaughter.

The other teens involved in this killing are: Christopher Overton, Jordan Dasch, Kevin Shea, Nicholas Hausch, Anthony Hartford and Jose Pacheco. Ironically, Pacheco is of Puerto Rican descent. Hausch, Shea and Pacheco have all plead guilty to related charges in the case.

The trial stemmed from the events of November 8, 2008 when Lucero was attacked by seven youths before being stabbed to death near the Patchogue, Long Island Railroad Station. Reportedly, Lucero, and Angel Loja, were followed and chased by the teens, including the then 17-year-old Conroy. Lucero and Loja were going to the home of their friend, Elder Fernandez. Apparently, a favorite pastime of Conroy and his friends in this eastern Suffolk County area was to go looking for Hispanics to beat up. “Beaner Hopping” is the term coined for it.  Patchogue—along with the notorious neighboring town of Farmingville—has long been a hotbed of xenophobic intolerance toward Latino immigrants.

On September 17, 2000, Farmingville was the site of an infamous attempted double murder where Mexican day-laborers, Israel Perez Arvizu and Magdaleno Estrada Escamilla, were lured to an abandoned building with promises of jobs by Christopher Slavin and Ryan Wagner. However, both were attacked with a knife and post-hole digger. Fortunately, they survived the attack. Slavin was convicted of two counts both of assault and attempted murder in August 2001 and sentenced to 25 years. Wagner was sentenced to 15 years. Slavin, like Conroy, proudly sported skinhead and Nazi tattoos. Farmingville was also the site of the July 5, 2003 firebombing of the home of Sergio Perez and Maria Garcia. Fortunately, the couple and their two kids were rescued from that blast.

In the Lucero case, during the initial attack, the victim attempted to keep the thugs at bay by swinging his belt at them. Conroy was hit by the belt which, apparently, infuriated him into stabbing Lucero. Loja fled to safety before the stabbing. Loja testified that before they were attacked the teens hurled insults at them, at one point screaming “Hey, fucking nigger; fucking Mexican; fucking illegals, you come to this country to take our money.”

After the stabbing, Loja ran to the home of Lucero’s friend, Elder Fernandez.

Fernandez said he found Lucero, covered in blood, a couple of hundred feet from where police say the attack occurred on Funard Court.  “I saw my friend’s last minute,” Fernandez said. “It was miserable.” Lucero was pronounced dead at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital.

Earlier this week, several alternate jurors stated that Conroy hurt himself during the last week of the trial when he recanted his earlier confession. Allegedly, on the night of the killing, Conroy confessed in writing, to Detective John McLeer, to stabbing Lucero.
 
However, earlier week he stated that he neither attacked, nor stabbed Lucero. He testified that he only confessed in order to protect Christopher Overton, whom he said stabbed Lucero. He testified Overton handed him the bloody knife on the fateful night. Overton was previously arrested in 2007, at 15, in a home invasion case that led to the murder of an African American. Overton pled guilty, to the invasion not the murder, and hasn’t been sentenced in that case yet. Conroy claims parts of the confession were falsified by Detective McLeer.

This case is a glaring example of the racism fermenting on Long Island. Hispanics are the new targets. Some politicians are exploiting the issue for political gain, while ignoring the hatred they inflame. But the problem is even deeper, since the bias these teens manifested is a mirror image of the internal prejudice their neighbors, friends and family project. White Long Islanders profess ignorance about where this hatred comes from. Perhaps, they should take a good look at their communities. Long Island is one of the most segregated areas in America.

The lynch mob mentality of these budding racists isn’t an anomaly as some suggest. Bigotry is a learned behavior. This hatred represents the toxic mindset of many. The difference here is: these teens acted out the hate they were taught from their friends, peers and parents.

Unfortunately, this tragedy is a prelude to future atrocities and attacks against Hispanics. Given the demographic changes, relating to the increase of the Hispanic population, the immigration debate will continue to be used as an explosive political wedge issue with catastrophic consequences.

The racism that took Marcelo Lucero’s life lives. We must continue to fight it.


"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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