UPDATE: Federal Authorities Open Investigation into Shenandoah Murder

(Video courtesy of The Morning Call)

Previously, Truth in Immigration reported on the beating death of Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania and MALDEF’s subsequent involvement.

On Tuesday, Department of Justice (DOJ) Spokeswoman Jamie Hais announced that the FBI and the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ have started investigations into the beating death of Ramirez. The opening of these investigations follows reports that local officials inadequately responded to Ramirez’s death. MALDEF has been critical of local authorities for their delayed investigations and for their public disbelief that local teens could have committed such heinous acts.

Gladys Limon, of MALDEF’s Los Angeles office, told reporters about the importance of involving federal authorities:
We expect that local authorities will prosecute these alleged criminals to the fullest extent under the law . . . However, we believe it is necessary for the federal authorities to also take action in order to ensure the integrity of the process.1
John Amaya, of MALDEF’S Washington, DC office, explained the violence in the context of the rise of anti-immigrant sentiment in Pennsylvania and across the nation:
When we hear it spewed every night on CNN or radio talk shows, real people hear it and they take matters into their own hands.2
At a vigil held for Ramirez on Tuesday, local mayor Thomas O’Neill apologized for any comments from local officials that may have been insensitive:
Anything anyone said certainly wasn’t intended to cause hurt or separation among the [Latino] community.3
Non-Hispanics also attended the vigil and expressed their condolences and openness to the local Latino community. One longtime resident addressed the Latino community in the following way:
If no one has officially welcomed you, tonight I ask your permission to say, "Welcome."4
During the visit to the community of Shenandoah, MALDEF staff took pictures of the day's events.  Below are just a few examples of what they saw.

1. John J. Moser, “Feds probe fatal beating of illegal immigrant,” The Morning Call, July 30 2008
2. Maryclaire Dale, "Feds join probe of Mexican slain in Pa. coal town," The Associated Press, July 30, 2008
3. Moser, supra note 1
4. Id.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund