Lynched by racist vigilantes
Immigrant mourned by thousands
Published Nov 19, 2008 6:43 PM
Seven suburban youths from Patchogue-Medford High School on Long Island decided
to go out in their SUV on Saturday night, Nov. 8, and “f _ _ _ up a
Mexican.” When they came across Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero on
his way to a friend’s house, they jumped him and beat him. Jeffrey
Conroy, a local high school athlete, has been charged with first-degree
manslaughter in the stabbing death of Lucero.
Long Island vigil where Ecuadorian
immigrant was murdered.
Photo: Martha Rojas
On a rainy Friday night following the murder, more than 2,000 people gathered
at the site of Lucero’s killing for a memorial vigil. Religious and
government officials counseled peacefulness and reconciliation, but many people
held signs asking for a reckoning.
Lucero was the eldest son of a poor Ecuadorian family. He left his home 16
years ago at the age of 22 to take the long and dangerous trip to the United
States to find work. He traveled to Patchogue in Suffolk County, New York, a
magnet for Ecuadorian families.
Marcelo Lucero worked for many years in a dry cleaning store, went to church
and sent money home to his mother so she could build a house and survive. He
was often sad and lonely and called his mother several times a week. (Newsday,
Anti-Black and anti-immigrant history
May 1 Coalition for Immigrant Rights
in Patchogue, N.Y., Nov. 14.
Photo: Carlos Canales
Suffolk County has a long racist history. White colonists stole the land from
Indigenous people in the 17th century. The enslavement of Africans was legal
there until 1827.
In the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan held rallies in full white-sheeted regalia in
Huntington, originally the Suffolk County seat. The Nazi Party chose to set up
“Camp Siegfried” in the Suffolk village of Yaphank in the 1930s.
Lucero worked just eight miles from there.
Racist realtors have promoted “racial steering” in the growing
white suburbs from the 1950s to the present, forcing Black families into
designated Black communities with inferior schools and social services. Suffolk
County police have been notoriously racist in these communities.
U.S. policies have created a system of forced migration for millions of people.
“Free trade” agreements have devastated the national economies of
most of the countries of Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
Millions have left behind their beloved families to become low-wage laborers in
the capitalist world market.
Racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric from media “stars” like Rush
Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity of Fox News has labeled
immigrants “illegal aliens.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy garnered votes by pandering to reactionary
groups in the county and spearheading numerous anti-immigrant bills in the
The Mexican Consulate, investigating racist attacks on Mexican immigrants in
Farmingville—about 10 miles from where Lucero was killed—compared
the region to the Arizona border for the abuse of immigrants. Levy did nothing
in the face of fire bombings of [email protected]’ houses, attempted murders of
Mexican day laborers, racist beatings, and police harassment of [email protected]
residents. (AP, Nov. 16)
Levy’s policies mirror federal law, which has produced the terrible
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids on workplaces. These raids have
intensified in the past year and have resulted in the deportation of 345,000
immigrants so far in 2008, up 16.5 percent from last year. (Boston Globe, Nov.
Political reputations have been made or destroyed by adherence to the
anti-immigrant line—from former Gov. Elliot Spitzer in New York, who
dared to suggest that undocumented people should be able to get drivers’
licenses, to Sheriff Joe Arapaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, who has become
the hero of the Aryan Nation, the Klan and the Minutemen as he conducts a
campaign of terror and racial profiling in Phoenix and its environs.
George W. Bush’s Department of Homeland Security has spent billions of
tax dollars to fund the raids and incarceration of hundreds of thousands of
immigrants of color.
Anti-immigrant policies benefit corporations profiting from the
immigrant-prison-industrial complex. The Border Patrol provides the best-paying
jobs available for youth in the Southwestern U.S.
When the press and government conspire to demonize a specific group, that is
institutionalized racism. As a result, a 40-percent rise in racist
anti-immigrant attacks since 2003 preceded the murder of Marcelo Lucero. (AP,
On that November night when the teenagers decided to ride around looking for a
Mexican to attack, they were motivated by the rhetoric of County Executive
Levy. They were inspired by public officials who confer legitimacy on
anti-immigrant groups in Suffolk and across the U.S.
Foreclosures, low wages and unemployment are hitting hard on Long Island.
Bankruptcies are up 77 percent. Anti-immigrant politicians promote racism to
obscure the real reasons for the economic decline. They inspired the adolescent
killers of Marcelo Lucero.
At the vigil, a young Salvadoran man stood on a roof and held up a sign,
“The murder of Marcelo Lucero is the responsibility of Steve
Carlos Canales of the Workplace Project, an organizer of day laborers in nearby
Farmingville, said, “They haven’t permitted the people to speak up
and to tell our real feelings which show our anger, which shout our sorrow for
the death of Marcelo. They ask us to live in peace, but we can never live in
peace because there is no peace if there is no justice.”
Canales told Workers World that Steve Levy is “the spiritual leader of
the doctrine of racial hatred” who promotes the “legalization and
implementation of the most effective local anti-immigrant laws” in
Suffolk County, the most segregated county in the U.S. (AP, Nov. 16)
During the vigil, many circulated a petition asking New York State Gov. David
Paterson to call for the resignation of Levy. The May 1st Coalition plans a
protest at the governor’s offices in Manhattan on Nov. 21.
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