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After Fatal Beating, Racial Tension, and Police Corruption, Shenandoah Inches toward Justice


Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 23:00:00 PM EST

In Shenandoah, PA, the community is inching its way toward justice.

Three federal indictments that include commission of a hate crime, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, official misconduct, and extortion have been recently handed down by a federal grand jury in the case of the fatal beating of Luis Ramirez.  On July 12, 2008, Ramirez was beaten to death when his alleged assailants attacked him in the street on their way home from a town festival, kicking and hitting him while members of the group yelled racial slurs.  Ramirez died from the injuries he sustained in that hateful attack, leaving behind his partner and their two children, whose interests the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) represented in court soon thereafter.  

In spite of the horrific details of the crime, damning evidence, and a number of serious criminal charges, the state trial released the defendants with little more than a slap on the wrist.  This was not a trial for a petty infraction mind you, but rather a case whose outcome should have found justice for a man's death and for his surviving family.  Therefore, MALDEF called upon the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the fatal beating and the accounts of police misconduct that were brought forth in testimony at the trial.

The indictments, just unsealed yesterday after being returned on December 10, 2009, allege that Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky--the primary defendants in the murder trial--and others, including some members of the Shenandoah Police Department, conspired to obstruct the investigation of Ramirez's murder.  An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence of guilt, so justice still has yet to be served.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 358 words in story)

"(Pre)Viewing the Right-Wing Playbook on Immigration"

by: Restore Fairness

Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 16:08:41 PM EST

From the Restore Fairness blog.

As we continue to fight for immigration reform, one  thing that we can  be sure about is a right-wing attack. A preview of  this came about in  the days building up to the successful immigration march in D.C. when fringe right-wing   groups like Numbers USA, The John Tanton Network and the Tea Party Movement started pulling out all the stops to counter the building   momentum for immigration reform. Predictably, their approach mirrored   the strategies they employed a few years ago, during the last big push   for reform that took place in 2007 under former President George Bush.


A report by liberal advocacy group People for the American Way called “(Pre)Viewing the Right-Wing Playbook on Immigration”  has pulled from years of expertise on the right to lay out a list of   the key strategies that are traditionally employed to defeat immigration   reform, followed by tools to retaliate against these irrational and unsound attacks.

One of the  most common strategies employed by the right is an appeal  to racial  fear. This is carried out in a number of ways, including the  positing  of the “Brown” threat to a “White America,” and the outrageous   portrayal of immigrants and their supporters as invaders and enemies of   the United States. Inciting prejudice against Latinos, Rep. Tom  Tancredo  commented in November 2006-

Look at what  has happened to Miami. It  has become a Third World country…. You would  never know you’re in the  United States of America. You would certainly  say you’re in a Third  World country.

Not to be  left behind, former Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan  continued in  the vein of this fear-mongering around the “immigrant  invasion”. He wrote in 2007-

What is  happening to us? An immigrant  invasion of the United States from the  Third World, as America’s white  majority is no longer even reproducing  itself. Since Roe v. Wade,  America has aborted 45 million of her  children. And Asia, Africa and  Latin America have sent 45 million of  their children to inherit the  estate that aborted American children  never saw.

It goes without saying that claims that  America has been built by and  for White people are historically  incorrect and intensely racist. More  importantly, this country  continues to be shaped by immigrants and draws  immense political and  economic strength from its diversity.

Continuing in the vein of  racial divisiveness is the idea that  immigration rights advocates are  themselves racist, a notion that has  emerged in the post Obama election  days. While television personality  Glenn Beck has referred to  President Obama as someone who was opposed to  white people, he has  generated the idea from numerous accusations of  racism thrown at  pro-immigration advocates during the 2007 push for  reform. At that  time, the radio host Michael Savage attacked the National Council of La Raza by calling it “the Ku Klux Klan of the Hispanic   people.” He went on to say that it was “the most stone racist group I’ve   ever seen in this country”.

Portraying undocumented immigrants  as responsible for terrorism and   crime waves, as well as positing them  as “unclean” carriers of disease   and bio-terrorism is one of the  tactics that the far right has employed   on both local and national  levels during past debates around   immigration. Such as when  Lou Dobbs claimed immigrants were   causing an   epidemic of  leprosy in the country which was simply untrue. Or when   during the debates over immigration reform, Rep. Steve King, of the   House Republicans’ “Immigration Reform Caucus” extrapolated fictional   statistics claiming that 12 American citizens “die a violent   death at the hands of murderous illegal aliens each day”. If that’s so,   then why is it that the President’s  Council of Economic Advisers reports that immigrants have lower crime rates than   U.S. citizens and that immigrant men ages 18 to 40 are less likely  than  other U.S. residents to be incarcerated.

While we hope that  most of you would be taken by the impulse to laugh  off these  strategies as racist, rabble-rousing garbage, we must take  note that  such nativist fear-mongering has the power to garner  significant  support from many, especially within the current climate of  an unstable  economy. Work such as People For the American Way’s “Right Wing Watch: In Focus” series gives us the   best tool to fighting these attacks – truly understanding the reasoning   behind them, and countering them on their own territory.

Let’s  fight racism on our route to humane immigration reform!

Learn. Share. Act. Go to


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Holder Pushes Hate Crime Bill in Wake of Recent Wave of Hate


Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 14:12:50 PM EST

In the wake the recent shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the murder of Dr. George Tiller, and continued attacks against immigrants, Attorney General Eric Holder has asked Congress for a tougher hate crimes bill. 

"If there was ever a doubt about the need for this legislation, I think that has been pretty much done away with by the events that we've seen in our nation here in Washington, DC... I think the time is right, the time is now for the passage of this legislation," he said.

We couldn't agree more.  The FBI reports that hate crimes against Latinos have risen 40% over the past four years.  The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that the number of hate groups targeting Latinos and immigrants has increased by 54% since 2000. 

These are not just statistics.  People are being beaten to death simply because they are Latino.  Luis Ramirez, a 25-year-old immigrant, was beaten to death in July of last year by a group of teenagers in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.  One witness said that they told Ramirez's friends to get out of Shenandoah, "or you're gonna to be laying effin next to him." 

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 248 words in story)

Keep the Nomination Process Civil, Respectful and Constructive


Wed Jun 24, 2009 at 15:12:49 PM EST

Supreme Court nominations get political, even with nominees as qualified as Judge Sonia Sotomayor. However, that does not mean that politicians get a free pass to attack nominees solely on the basis of race, ethnicity or gender. Such outbursts are reprehensible not only to Hispanics and communities of color, but to all Americans. More than 4,000 people have stood up to the nonsense and signed NCLR's (National Council of La Raza) petition asking the Republican leadership to restore the debate on Judge Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination to a more civil level of discourse.

NCLR will be presenting the petition to Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Please join us in asking these Republican leaders to denounce this smear campaign and keep the nomination process civil, respectful and constructive. If you haven't already done so, please sign NCLR's petition today. If you have, forward it on to your family and friends. Let's make sure that this petition has 5,000 supporters by the time it lands on Michael Steele's desk.

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Hate Speech, Vandalism, and Death Threats Have No Place in Immigration Debate or the Election


Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:48:19 AM EST

((Kety Esquivel is one of the Founding Editors of The Sanctuary, and now also the New Media Manager for The National Council of La Raza) - promoted by Duke)

Originally posted at

NCLR launched to address the surge of hate and violence infecting the immigration debate, but this is not the only place where hate is showing up these days.  Extremists are now bringing hate into the voter debate and the portrayal of people of color.  Most recently, the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) was bombarded with malicious emails, voicemails, and death threats, and transgressors vandalized their Boston and Seattle offices.

The Emails:

Email #1:

"_____ is going to have her life ended."

Email #2:

"You blue gums are not going to steal the election.  All of you porch monkeys need to go back to Africa."  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 198 words in story)

My Video on the Racism of the San Diego Minutemen

by: kyledeb

Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 06:20:24 AM EST

It's a little late, but as promised, I've put together a video from the footage I caught while I was at the annual National Council of La Raza conference in San Diego.
There's More... :: (3 Comments, 135 words in story)

Janet Murguía on immigration: Take Hate out of Debate

by: The Editors

Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 00:38:33 AM EST

National Council of La Raza President and CEO Janet Murguía's National Press Club speech, April 16, 2008

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

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