Little Change in L.I. Town Since Hate Crime

The screening of the documentary “Deputized ¿Cómo pudo pasar?” about the circumstances that lead to the stabbing death of Marcelo Lucero, brought to center stage again the issue of how much the situation has changed for immigrants on Long Island in the last five years.

For many residents of Patchogue, where the Ecuadorean immigrant was the victim of a hate crime on Nov. 8, 2008, things remain the same.

Martín Cuevas believes that attacks will continue as long as people are afraid to report them.

“Discrimination against Latinos hasn’t changed. Groups of youth keep beating up workers who dare to walk in the streets at night,” said Cuevas.

“I think there’s a big effort to alter the circumstances,” added Patrick Young of the Central American Refugee Center, “but nobody does anything from the time night falls until morning.”

Lucero was attacked by a group of seven teenagers who after asking for money started to beat him. When he tried to defend himself, he was wounded in the chest with a knife and died at a local hospital. The crime was classified as a hate crime, based on statements from a sole witness who said the young men were making racial slurs against him while they were beating him.

The screening was attended by community members who agreed on the need for more school programs that teach interracial tolerance, especially during this time when immigration reform is being discussed at the national level.

Bob Conroy, the father of one of the seven teenagers accused of murdering Lucero who received a 25-year sentence after being found guilty of manslaughter as a hate crime, said he liked the film because “they did a good job. It was balanced because they covered all of the people affected.”

Nevertheless, he expressed that “nothing anyone says or does will change what happened on the night of Nov. 8, 2008.” He said that immigration reform “is necessary” and insisted that his son’s sentence was too harsh, and that the trial had many inconsistencies.

Sue Hagedorn, the film’s producer, explained that the film’s goal is to “open up a discussion about what is happening on Long Island, and what’s lacking in terms of blaming others when we’re all part of the problem.”

None of Lucero’s family members were in attendance.

For those who would like to show the film, visit www.deputizedmovie.com

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