Tag: Luis Ramirez

I May Have Said This 199 Times Before

This is my 200th post, so it’s a good time to offer quick updates on a couple of stories I wrote about recently.

First, in Pennsylvania, five people (including three cops) are under federal indictment for their role in the death of Luis Ramirez, an immigrant beaten to death in the street by a gang of white teenagers. I wrote about the acquittal of the teens in this piece for the Huffington Post. It will be interesting to see if anybody is held accountable for bludgeoning a Latino to death, or if the indictments are all just for show.

Second, in Arizona, Joe Arpaio (the “toughest sheriff in America”) is currently embroiled “in a whirlwind of back-and-forth accusations, investigations, indictments, arrests, and general animosity between warring factions of local politicos in… the fifth largest county in the country.” It seems that Arpaio’s habit of rounding up Latinos (in the hopes that some of them might be illegals) is the least of his problems.

What Arpaio and the teens in the Ramirez incident have in common is that their alleged behavior toward Hispanics was so egregious that people went ahead and quite literally made a federal case of it.

And lastly, let me pass along a funny picture taken at one of the horribly earnest, rage-filled protests that overwhelmed the nation in the last few months. I believe this shot is from one of the Teabagger rallies against all that out-of-control socialism that’s supposedly taking over the country. The kid on the bike is brave and, more important, quite clever:

Entering a Symbiotic Relationship

Not too often do I encounter multiple Latino-centric stories just days apart. But this bonanza of attention occurred this week. The reason is not happenstance, or a strange cosmic alignment, or even the majority culture’s abrupt realization that Hispanics aren’t going away anytime soon.

No, it’s because Soledad O’Brien has a book to push. The CNN correspondent has talked her parent company into rolling out the “Latino in America” series as part of her media campaign. The series has been going for awhile, but it hit its full stride this week, garnering a couple of banner stories on their website.

Now, I don’t know much about O’Brien. I watch as little television news as possible, because I can feel my IQ points dropping whenever anchors introduce more screaming heads to discuss politics. As such, I’m not qualified to to question O’Brien’s motives. But it’s clear that Latinos are getting a tiny spotlight only because it’s convenient for a major corporation, which is distasteful, or at best, a cynic’s delight.

However, I’m going along with this ploy because some of their stories are actually pretty interesting. Rest assured that I’m not selling out. Oh, you’ll know when that happens, and it’s going to be sweet! But I digress…

In the here and now, I just want to point out that the CNN series gives updates on a couple of stories that I discussed in the previous months. There is more on the killing of Luis Ramirez, an immigrant bludgeoned to death in the street in Pennsylvania.

We hear about how Hispanics are the present and future of the Catholic Church, as if I hadn’t mentioned this fact months ago. Of course, CNN neglects to mention that this future may be short-lived as younger generations become less religious, but I’m sure that will be covered at some other point.

In addition, a few of CNN’s articles intrigued me enough that I may write separate posts about them in the coming weeks. I will refrain from going on, however, about the silliest article in the series. Under the bizarre headline “Americans More Familiar with Latinos,” we discover that “a new poll indicates that two-thirds of those surveyed now say they have at least some contact with Latinos.”

This makes me wonder about the one-third of Americans who have no contact with Hispanics, as well as ponder if we’ll see headlines proclaiming that Americans have finally accepted black people. Perhaps that will be in CNN’s next series.

A Latino Rodney King?

Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post (“Is Anyone Surprised?”). I appreciate the insights from Xey, Pprscribe, and Haysoos. Also, thanks to Jeremy for the support and Macon D for the tidbit that, despite his disclaimer, I did not actually know (he gives me too much credit).

But if the right wing’s reaction to the swine-flu outbreak was a depressing example of the disgust that many Americans hold for Latinos, what are we to make of the news out of Pennsylvania?

Last week, a jury in that state acquitted two teenagers of beating a man to death in a street brawl. The case apparently had too many contradictory versions of the truth, with multiple witnesses unable to clarify who did what to whom and why. The bottom line is that the teens were convicted of lesser charges and will more or less go on with their lives.

What has caught the eye of Hispanics and people interested in civil rights is that the town where the crime took place, Shenandoah, has a history of racial tension. The victim, Luis Ramirez, was a Mexican immigrant. The teens, as well as the other kids who earlier pled guilty to lesser charges, were white. They jury was all white.

It is impossible to escape the perception, therefore, that a mob of angry whites can beat a Latino to death right in the street without fear of being punished. Of course, those of us who weren’t at the trail (like me) can’t definitively say that this is a miscarriage of justice. But at the risk of getting all knee-jerky, I have to say that it appears highly suspicious.

Lawyers for the teens admitted that the kids were drunk and got into a fight with Ramirez, who was apparently walking down the street, minding his own business. Prosecutors said that the teens flung racial epithets at Ramirez, then followed up with kicks and punches.

The result was that Ramirez ended up with his brain leaking out of his head, and he died two days later. For no one to be seriously punished over such a crime can only mean one of two things:

  • A Latino man living in an economically depressed small town, where racial issues have flared in the past, inexplicably provoked a group of drunk white males to fight him. They had no choice but to defend themselves by kicking him in the head repeatedly. Or
  • It’s ok to bludgeon an immigrant to death.

The verdict would actually make more sense if the teens had been acquitted of all charges. In that case, the implication is that the boys had nothing to do with the fight or Ramirez’s death. Instead, by convicting them of a lesser charge (simple assault), the jury basically said, “Yeah, you walloped the guy, and he died, but we don’t think you should do time. It’s not like he was anybody important.”

The Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund is pressuring the Department of Justice to file federal charges against the teens. This, as you may recall, was the route that civil-rights groups took after the cops were acquitted in the Rodney King case.

Regardless of how it turns out this time, there is one big difference between the cases. Rodney King is still alive, and Luis Ramirez is not.

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