Long Island Doesn’t Forget Marcelo Lucero

It’s been four years since Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero was killed in Patchogue. (Photo via Noticia)

A vigil in honor of the fourth anniversary of Marcelo Lucero’s death marked the start of  the “Week of Understanding, Accepting, and Respecting Cultural Differences” in Suffolk County, an initiative approved by the county’s legislature in 2011.

The vigil, which promotes a message of peace and hope for the community, seeks not only that Hispanic immigrants who arrive in the U.S. be respected, but also that their contributions to the community be recognized.

“After Hurricane Sandy left so many Long Island families without homes, it is now the Latinos who are reconstructing these areas,” said Joselo Lucero, the victim’s brother, “we want to bring a positive message to our community and that our contributions be acknowledged.”

Marcelo Lucero, a 37-year-old Ecuadorian immigrant, was beaten by six teenage boys and stabbed by Jeffrey Conroy, 19, on November 8, 2008 in Patchogue, a few blocks from the town’s train station.

The crime shone a national spotlight on the racial hatred problems in Suffolk County, which lead to the opening of a federal investigation into the Suffolk County Police Department for having ignored complaints of violence against Latino immigrants.

After the trial, Conroy was sentenced to 25 years in prison for committing a hate crime, while the others were sentenced to 5 to 8 years for their complicity in the crime.

The Positive Side

The vigil commemorating Lucero’s death began at the Methodist United Church in Patchogue, where Joselo Lucero expressed his gratitude to all those present, especially those who supported him during the terribly sad process he lived through with his family.

Lucero stated that the loss of his brother left a great void that he will always carry with him, especially each November. Likewise, he said that the death of his brother not only greatly affected his family, but also the family of the young men involved in the murder.

The brother of Marcelo, Jocelo Lucero. (Photo via Flickr, Creative Commons License)

“The community learned something that day, learned that each person merits respect,” he said. “The citizens that are here are learning something much better than that, that immigrants that have come to this country are the ones who are going to reconstruct Suffolk County after the Sandy tragedy.”

As a result of what happened, Joselo Lucero now works for “Fundación Hagedorn,”offering talks on discrimination against Hispanics and bullying in schools and communities.

In addition, Marcelo Lucero’s family created a scholarship fund bearing his name. The scholarship is given to students of Patchogue-Medford High School, the same school attended by the young men who killed Lucero. The scholarship is granted to students who are academically outstanding, without considering race or creed.

The tragedy against Marcelo Lucero inspired producer Susan Hagedorn to make the documentary “Deputized,” about the complex political and social context surrounding  Lucero’s assassination. The film was selected for the Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival and premiered Dec. 2 in Sag Harbor.

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