MALDEF

Latino Hate Crime Death Deserves Justice

On July 14, 2008, Ramirez lost his life after he was knocked unconscious and severely beaten by a group of Shenandoah teenagers who yelled racial epithets throughout the fatal beating. Charging documents and eyewitness accounts indicate that Ramirez was punched and kicked in the body and head causing him to foam at the mouth, to sustain two skull fractures, and ultimately, to die. Ramirez leaves behind his fiancée and their two young children.

While local officials initially failed to bring charges against the perpetrators and denied that race played a role in the attack, MALDEF intervened to pressure the local prosecutor to charge the defendants with a hate crime. Soon thereafter, the county district attorney filed murder and ethnic intimidation charges against the assailants.

A retired Philadelphia police officer testified at a preliminary hearing that she heard one of the attackers yell “Tell your [expletive] Mexican friends to get the [expletive] out of Shenandoah or you’ll be [expletive] laying next to him.” The attacker's comments were directed at Ramirez’s friends who came to his aid after receiving a distress call from him on a cell phone during the beating.

On Friday, May 1, 2009, a jury in Schuylkill County found two of the defendants accused of beating the 25-year-old, father of two, guilty of simple assault. Despite the mounting evidence of a hate-driven and violent attack, the jury acquitted the defendants of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation. The jury's conclusion is an outrage. Most shocking is the recent news article describing the Jury Foreman's view that some of the jurors were racist and racism tainted the jury's deliberations, which indicates that the trial was biased. Luis Ramirez was brutally murdered and, even in death, Ramirez remains a victim of extreme racism which denies his family the justice they deserve.

The death of Luis Ramirez has repercussions beyond his family and community. The FBI Hate Crimes Statistics Report documents that hate crimes against Latinos have increased by 40% over the past several years. We must work aggressively to prevent hate crimes, and when they occur, prosecute and punish the perpetrators to the full extent of the law.

MALDEF will continue to work with the Ramirez family and the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure that the actions of the defendants and the death of Luis Ramirez is fully investigated as a hate crime. Sign the petition asking the DOJ to bring federal hate crimes charges against and prosecute those individuals responsible for the brutal murder of Luis Ramirez.

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Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund