You may remember the horrific 2008 case of Luis Ramirez who was beaten to death by three teenagers — for nothing more than the way he looked. As Ramirez lay unconscious at their feet, the teens yelled to a young white woman by his side:

Tell your effin Mexican friends to get the eff out of Shenandoah or you’re going to be laying next to him!

An all-white jury delivered a slap on the wrist to the assailants despite overwhelming evidence, acquitting them of committing a hate crime and shocking the nation.  The Obama administration then initiated an investigation, and now the wheels of justice are finally turning.

In a statement released today by the U.S. Department of Justice, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Tom 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 Civil Rights Division stands ready to bring perpetrators of hate crimes to justice.

Larry Keller at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s HateWatch blog details the charges against the police for obstructing the Justice Department probe and against the assailants of federal hate crime.

It is a bittersweet step forward, and another reminder of the horrific consequences of the unchallenged racism heard day after day from our television sets and even the halls of Congress — where “illegality” has become an accepted justification for openly devaluing the humanity of Latinos and people from Somalia, India, Russia, China, Haiti and around the world who look different and might speak with an accent.

Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) made just this point yesterday, as she, alongside Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), unveiled comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would pull the rug out from mainstream apologists for xenophobia, who have laid the ground for a dramatic rise in hate crimes.  Listen to her moving speech at yesterday’s press conference:

Major accolades to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), who led the charge in the courtroom and switched to organizing when justice was denied.  Check out the reaction from Dave Neiwert at Crooks and Liars, who has covered the case from the beginning. More coverage soon.

Cross-Posted at America’s Voice and Daily Kos.

Related Posts with Thumbnails