January 9, 2010

Justice for Luis Ramirez

Many villagers joined this blog in calling on Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell to speak out against the brutal, racially motivated attack on Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez. You helped raise the call for justice, and now justice is being served: after a yearlong investigation, the federal government announced hate-crime and corruption charges in the case.

The U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division filed charges against Ramirez's assailants and the local police officers who allegedly covered up the attack. Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky were charged with a hate crime for fatally beating Ramirez while shouting racial epithets, and Shenandoah police officers Matthew Nestor (the town's Chief), Lt. William Moyer and Jason Hayes were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice during the investigation.

While the indictments can only soften the pain of Luis Ramirez's family, federal charges send a strong message that racially motivated violence against Latinos will not be tolerated in this country.

As Justice Department Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez said: "Violence motivated by bigotry and hate has no place in America, and yet it remains all too prevalent in many of our communities." The truth of Perez's words is known all too well among Latinos, who have seen a rise in hate crimes over the past five years -- a trend exacerbated by economic tensions and a growing anti-immigrant sentiment.

This blog appreciates the work of Presente.org who first made public the injustice of Luis Ramirez's killers being acquitted by an all-white jury in the small town of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. Presente.org took on this issue because it graphically shows the racism and xenophobia that still smolder in some parts of this country, and the clear need to speak out against bigotry of all kinds. The federal hate crime charges are a vindication of their efforts, and of the power that we have when we speak with a unified voice against injustice.

1 comment:

RiPPa said...

I was so glad to hear this news in early December. This is another testament to what online activism can accomplish. I'm glad that you got involved my brother. We need more os "us" standing up and fighting for other people of color as we do for ourselves.