By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
The Long Island youths accused of killing Ecuadoran immigrant Marcelo Lucero in Patchogue in November had been attacking Hispanics in the area for a year, authorities say. “They engaged in a regular and violent pastime: hunting for Hispanics to attack,” The New York Times reported.
“In small groups with shifting members, the teens sent one Hispanic man after another to the hospital with injuries,” added Newsday. The attackers were indicted Wednesday for eight more assaults or attempted assaults on Latino men.
The teenagers, students at Patchogue-Medford High School, are accused of beating a Hispanic man unconscious in July, taking his money and shoes. In December, three of them allegedly harassed another Hispanic man, swinging a pipe at him and telling him, “You’re dead.” In June, they allegedly attacked yet another man with a knife, cutting his clothes open. Newsday quoted Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota saying,
All of the defendants participated in what we consider to be a violent and racially driven pastime. (…) the defendants called their victims such things as ‘beaners’ and ‘wetbacks.’
“These charges demonstrate there is an epidemic of hate crimes against Latinos here,” Latino Justice attorney Jose Perez told the Daily News. “The vicious murder of Mr. Lucero wasn’t a random and isolated incident.”
While the attacks took place, Newsday‘s Joye Brown noted, “authorities who should have picked up that something was horribly amiss appear to have known little or nothing.”
Brown wrote in her column,
For more than a year, bloodied victims were going to hospitals in Suffolk County. No one seemed to notice. Latino men were knocked off their bicycles, some robbed. No one in authority picked up a pattern.
Latino men were slammed on the back of their heads with hard objects, prosecutors say. Threatened, allegedly by a teenager wielding a metal pipe. “We are going to kill you,” the teen told one victim, an assistant district attorney said in court yesterday. And still there was nothing.
Latino men were stomped. One was physically pulled from the safety of a Laundromat. Another was chased down by an SUV as he pedaled furiously down Route 112 in Medford trying to get away. He couldn’t.
According to prosecutors, one unconscious man awoke to find that his attackers had stolen his wallet and shoes, another to find his bicycle in pieces. A third was confronted by a teenager who prosecutors said lunged with a knife, piercing his shirt, belt and skin. And in all of this time, no one in authority noticed a pattern.
After knowing of the new indictments, one of the teenagers’ victims said they were too little, too late, Newsday reported. Another wondered how ten months could have gone by since he was assaulted with no progress in the investigation.
“I just can’t understand why someone would smash me so hard that I ended up in the hospital for four days,” Javier Monroy González told Newsday. “Is it because I look Latino and have a Mexican accent?”
He added he is frustrated by Suffolk police who interviewed him at the hospital, “but didn’t seem to take his injuries seriously,” the newspaper said.
Meanwhile, a man was arrested in San Jose, Calif., this week after allegedly attacking a 53-year-old man for speaking Spanish on his cellphone.