Hate Crimes Unit Commander: Levy Interfered

Det. Sgt. Robert Reecks served 13 years as head of Suffolk County's hate crimes unit. But he says that since the election in 2004 of nativist Steve Levy as Suffolk County Executive, that his "ability to do that job" had become compromised by the administration. The most recent example followed the alleged doctoring of a hate crimes report by Levy's office.

Last week, Reecks was removed as head of Suffolk County’s Hate Crimes Unit.

Newsday’s Joye Brown interviewed Reecks. Below are excerpts:
The change began, he said, soon after Levy won the county’s top elected position in 2004 – riding a local tide of anger against illegal immigration.

“They came in and they started to shut it down...all of a sudden it was, no, you are not doing that, no, that is not a hate crime,” said Reecks.

Levy’s office killed or altered news releases designed to aid the division’s investigations, Reecks said.
Over time, every draft public communication from the division was routed to Levy’s office...where, Reecks said, often they were sanitized of such language as “hate crimes.”

Reecks said that the choke on communications, however, directly affected the division’s ability to close cases.
Nearly three years later, Reecks said he was third on the list of interviews when the U.S. Justice Department stepped in last year to begin its ongoing investigation into the county’s handling of hate crime complaints.

He said county officials were upset that he wanted to speak with investigators alone – which he ultimately did. It was during that interview, Reecks said, that he asked flippantly whether the police department might punish him for speaking to federal investigators. The investigators’ response, said Reecks: Let us know if that happens.

Reecks said he left the task force after being called to account by his superiors for comments he made during two task force meetings.


Suffolk County NY Anti-Immigrant Leader Margaret Bianculli-Dyber Lashes Out at Lucero’s Mom

LIWins: Margaret Bianculli-Dyber, one of Long Island’s best known anti-immigrant activists, lashed out at the mother of Marcelo Lucero in an interview with the LIPress after the guilty verdict in the Jeffrey Conroy murder trial.

Photo: Margaret Bianculli-Dyber, Sending Back the Mexicans, VillageVoice


Killers and Police in the Shenandoah Hate Murder of Luis Ramirez Indicted by Feds

There may be justice after all in the hate murder of Luis Ramirez of Shenandoah, PA.

The killers Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky thought they were home free when they were exonerated by an all-white jury in a sham trial a few months ago. And they were encouraged by the many white townsfolk and public officials who vigorously pushed the lie that Ramirez was responsible for his own murder.

Now comes word that the feds have arrested six persons (2 of the killers, Sheriff Matthew Nestor and 2 police officers) on charges including federal hate crime, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, official misconduct and extortion.

"Violence motivated by bigotry and hate has no place in America, and yet it remains all too prevalent in many of our communities. The Civil Rights Division stands ready to bring perpetrators of hate crimes to justice." Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Department of Justice

Click here for more on the Ramirez murder and other hate killings of Latinos in the past year.


Steve Levy: Sonrisa del Demonio?

In the lead up to the election of Steve Levy as Suffolk County Executive, a family was firebombed in Farmingville, a major front in the nativist war against Latino immigrants. A Democrat, Levy sealed the election by stealing away the Republican's wingnut base with his trademark anti-immigrant taunts.

Suffolk has since seen an unending pogrom against Latinos, including assaults, beatings, destruction of property, stabbings, and the murder of Marcelo Lucero. Stroking the wave of hate has been Levy with a series of legislative proposals and directives intended to make life miserable for Latinos.

Keep in mind that Suffolk has a Latino pop of 200,000. And Levy himself has a half dozen Latino lieutenants and another dozen who serve as advisors.

In other words, who needs enemies?

The film Farmingville captured the ugly '03 marker in the pogrom. PBS is making the full documentary film available online for free through 11/18/09. Watch the film and read the SPLCenter report Climate of Fear detailing anti-Latino violence of the Levy era.

Think about what has been allowed to happen in Suffolk, NY, in America in the 21st Century and share your thoughts and ideas here or privately (us_taino@yahoo.com).

Climate of Fear (SPLCenter) http://bit.ly/Pogrom
Firebomb Destroys L.I. Couple's Dreams (NYTimes) http://bit.ly/firebomb


Help fight the attacks on Sotomayor

A message from Presente Action...
When it comes to Judge Sonia Sotomayor, some Republican leaders have been talking out of both sides of their mouth: playing nice in public while privately encouraging racist attacks from the likes of Rush Limbaugh.

ActBlue: Rush Limbaugh Doesn't Like This Ad -- Help Keep It On The Air!

That's why Presente Action is running radio ads calling out those members of Congress who refuse to condemn Rush's rhetoric.


Another murder of a Latino - this time, a 9-year-old girl

A nine-year-old girl and her father were murdered while they slept.

Police now suspect that last month's killer was a leader of the Minutemen American Defense and representative of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), joined by two other Minutemen. The three anti-immigrant activists are accused of breaking down the door of the Flores family's home, ransacking their house, and gunning down 9-year-old Brisenia and her father in order to fund their "border watch" activities.

Up until now, the mainstream media has mostly ignored the story.

We cannot let Brisenia's story go untold - to remain silent in the face of this kind of extremism.

Click here to learn more about what happened and to share this horrific story with those close to you.

You've seen the Minutemen and FAIR on television - they're quoted as mainstream "immigration control advocates." Congressmen call on leaders from FAIR to testify before their committees as immigration experts. CNN even broadcasts FAIR's hate-speech on the Lou Dobbs show, blaming immigrants for everything from global warming to traffic congestion. All you have to do is watch these folks scream "illegal alien" to get their agenda: making immigrants seem less than human.

I've asked you to speak out against hate crimes before and will keep asking you to let Congress know what kind of America you want to live in. Today, however, I'm asking you to fight intolerance and extremism by shedding light on it. By telling the story of it. By not remaining silent.

Together, we can turn the tide on this culture of hatred and intolerance and stand up for the values that we all share.

Adam Luna
America's Voice


The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right

The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right by David Neiwert, an award-winning journalist and blogger at Orcinus and of late, at Crooks and Liars, ties today's hate radio directly to the eliminationist impulse of American facists. The terrorism of the KKK, Japanese internment during WWII, the establishment of Sundown towns, the lynching of African Americans, etc., as well as today's anti-Latino violence and Islamophobia, writes Neiwert, are the vile products of this phenomenon. Here's an excerpt from Publishers Weekly:

"Eliminationism--including the rhetoric that precedes it and fuels it--expresses a kind of self-hatred," Neiwert claims. "In an American culture that advertises itself as predicated on inclusiveness, eliminationism runs precisely counter to those ideals. Eliminationists, at heart, hate the very idea of America."
The sub-textual paradox that the second half of the book balances against such anti-American ideation is ... that such tendencies have been part of America from the start. This latter portion of the book is at times nearly too much to bear as the history of white European domination and eradication of Native Americans is detailed, as well as the lynchings of African Americans, the backlash against Chinese immigrants and the round-up of Japanese Americans for internment bears witness. Indeed, as Neiwert points out, nearly identical language is unleashed today against Latino immigrants as there have been against different waves of "others" in our collectively shameful past; even such modern "heroes" as the Minutemen can trace their lineage back to the lynching mobs and vigilantism of the early 20th century.

Tendencies toward fascism, both in our historical past and in our current political climate, can be triggered by what the author calls "the mobilizing passions." As a checklist, it's probably one of the most useful I've run across:

1. A sense of overwhelming crisis beyond the reach of any traditional solutions.

2. The primacy of the group, toward which one has duties superior to every right, both universal and personal, and the subordination of the individual to it.

3. The belief that the group one belongs to is victimized, which justifies any action without legal or moral limits against the group's enemies, both internal and external.

4. Dread of the group's decline under the corrosive effect of individualistic liberalism, class conflict, and alien influences.

5. The need for closer integration of a purer community, by consent if possible, or by exclusionary violence if necessary.

6. The need for authority by natural leaders (always male), culminating in a national chief who alone is capable of incarnating the group's destiny.

7. The superiority of the leader's instincts over abstract and universal reason.

8. The beauty of violence and the efficacy of will, when they are devoted to the group's success.

9. The right of the "chosen people" to dominate others without restraint from any human or divine law, "right" being decided solely by the group's prowess in a Darwinian struggle.
Link: Full Review


Who Really Killed Luis Ramirez?

A few days ago two teens, accused in the fatal beating of Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania were acquitted of all serious charges by an all white jury. But who really killed Luis Ramirez?

A few days ago two teens, accused in the fatal beating of Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania were acquitted of all serious charges by an all white jury. Shortly after Ramirez was brutally murdered, his grieving fiancée had a premonition about the outcome of justice in the case saying, "I know they're going to try to make him look like nothing, and try to justify what the kids did, even though there's no way they could justify this. I know I'm not gonna get the justice I deserve, 10-1 these kids are going to get probation or a slap on the hand. Because he's an illegal Mexican they don't care, right away he's less important."
"With the death of Luis Ramirez, immigration is no longer a question of economic and political struggle. It is now a struggle for the soul of America. One we must win."
When I heard the verdict, I was taken back to a conversation from a couple of years ago when I stood aghast with all Americans as pictures rolled out from Abu Ghraib. I remember vividly talking with a friend of mine about it. He shook his head and said what we were all thinking, “Why did they do this?” It hit me hard, because I knew the answer. I shook my head with him and said quietly, “Because they could.”

When people mistreat others, when it happens systematically on a massive scale, like in Soviet Russia, or Pol Pot’s Cambodia, or Abu Ghraib, the questions are never how, but why. Why is it that people harm others like this? What is it that takes ordinary people and turns them to monsters?

Historians wrestle with it. Psychologists talk about national psychosis. Ordinary people construct millions of reasons. Always, we wrestle with why.

The answer never changes. It has been documented time and again. When we see others as less than human – killing them becomes less than a crime. When the attacked stop being seen as brothers, sons, fathers, mothers and sisters – torturing them becomes acceptable. When people are robbed of their humanity, turned into images, or beasts, they can be raped, robbed, enslaved.

When the other is not human, you can put prisoners on a box with electrodes taped to their hands. You can burn churches full of women and children. You can fill trains and lead them to gas chambers.

Again, our country must learn this lesson. The memory of Abu Ghraib is fresh in our mind, and James Byrd still mourned. Our history of anti-Semitism, anti-Irish, anti-Asian, anti-Black, anti-NOT ME still scars this country. We must examine these scars, if we are to learn from our darkest moments.

On July 14, Luis Ramirez was murdered. Not solely because he was Mexican, or undocumented, or even something so trite as being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Luis Ramirez was murdered because those who killed him could. And they could because, to them, he was not American, not human.

We as a country have to stop creating demons in our midst. We have to stop identifying one or another as less than human. The sentiment that killed Luis Ramirez was the same that killed James Byrd. “You don’t matter. You are less than human.”

The talk radio hosts and FOX news pundits who daily scream “illegal” are equally as guilty as the ones who threw the punches. Reporters who quote and therefore legitimize hate groups like FAIR have blood on their hands. When Lou Dobbs says that the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce favor the export of American capital and production to Mexico and Mexico's export of drugs and illegal aliens to the United States – he’s contributing to an intolerance that makes violence possible. With the constant bombardment of vitriol, the hate mongers create an atmosphere in which people are no longer workers, children or sisters – they are illegals, beaners or spics. In the words of Robert F. Kennedy, when we learn to “look at our bothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community, men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear – only a common desire to retreat from each other – only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force.”

We are one country, not fifty states. We are one people, not a thousand ethnicities. We worship one God. And we are all human. The rhetoric that permitted Luis Ramirez’s murder must stop. Our common destiny as human beings must prevail. With the death of Luis Ramirez, immigration is no longer a question of economic and political struggle. It is now a struggle for the soul of America. One we must win.

Be sure to sign MALDEF's petition to the Department of Justice demanding justice for the murder of Luis Ramirez.

Gabe Gonzalez is Director of the Campaign for Community Values at the Center for Community Change


Latino Workers Awarded $4.3MM in Discrimination Case

B&H electronics retailer in New York City has settled a job discrimination lawsuit on behalf of 149 Latino warehouse workers for $4.3 million.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that a federal judge in Manhattan approved the settlement.

The federal agency had accused B&H of paying the Manhattan and Brooklyn workers less than other workers, and denying them promotions and health benefits because they were Latino.

FYI: In Fiscal Year 2008, the EEOC received a record 10,601 national origin discrimination charge filings nationwide, an increase of 13% from the prior year and up 50% from about 7,000 charge filings a decade ago.