Hate Crime in Long Island Spurs Change in Police Policy

Seven teenagers sit in prison today after committing a fatal hate crime to Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero back in November of 2008. Their reason? Because he was Hispanic, they say; and he was not the first. The group of high schoolers found pleasure in seeking out Hispanic members of their community to attack. They expressed their confidence in doing so and in escaping prosecution because their victims do not seek justice out of fear of an investigation into their immigration status or the mere fact that the authorities simply would not address their complaints.

A letter to the County leaders sent last week lists a number of necessary improvements in police policy in addressing and tackling the issue of hate crimes. Steve Levy of the Suffolk County department’s Civil Rights Division, to whom the letter was addressed, was given a 28-page memorandum of recommendations to improve these issues. Of high priority on the list is the implementation of a system where people are free of fear in registering their complaints. Another topic of great importance, awareness that youth are capable of committing heinous crimes such as this one against Lucero and they are not to be easily dismissed.

A PBS documentary entitled “Not in Our Town: Light in the Darkness” is set to air this Wednesday, September 21. It depicts the attack of Marcelo Lucero, his death and provides a narration of the trial that followed. The documentary makes note of community leaders who, in the wake of Lucero’s death, stepped up to address the prevalence of violent hate crimes. The program seeks to highlight the positive actions that some communities are taking in response to anti-immigrant violence.

While six of the seven teens involved will serve a number of years in prison, 19-year old Jeffrey Conroy who inflicted Lucero with the fatal blow, will serve out his manslaughter crime for the next 25 years.

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