11/24/08

Nation's Civil Rights Groups Condemn Hate Killing of Marcelo Lucero

The Hate Killing of Marcelo Lucero Should be a "Wake Up Call for America"

“Words have consequences, and hateful words have hateful consequences." Janet Murguía

Washington, DC—The brutal murder of Marcelo Lucero, a Suffolk County, Long Island man of Ecuadoran descent, brought seven national civil rights organizations together today to denounce the recent wave of brutal hate crimes against communities of color.

Representatives from the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the National Urban League,the NAACP and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) decried the recent spike in hate crimes both during and after the election.

“In the wake of an election that sends a message to the world about freedom, it seems incongruous to raise the specter of hate in America,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR. “Hate did not win the election, but it has certainly reared its head in local communities across the country.”

The group cited FBI statistics that show hate crimes against Latinos and Asian Americans rising steadily over the past four years and a Southern Poverty Law Center report that details hundreds of incidents of hate crimes, vandalism, and threats committed since Election Day. This includes the election-night assault of Alie Kamara on Staten Island by two teenagers who shouted racial epithets and “Obama!” as they beat him.

“Hate crimes such as these must be investigated and prosecuted fully at the local and federal levels,” stated John Trasviña, MALDEF President and General Counsel.

The civil rights groups faulted a “climate of hate” surrounding the immigration debate of recent years and the national election which has been fostered over the airwaves and echoed in political discourse.

“For two years we have urged politicians and members of the media to show some restraint in perpetuating the damaging rhetoric that demonizes our communities,” said Murguía. “Suffolk County mirrors the experience of many communities where hate, fostered on a national scale, has found a new home.”

“Certainly, President-elect Obama’s election speaks volumes about how far we’ve come as a nation; but, make no mistake, it signifies hope, not a final victory over prejudice and racial hostility, ” said Wade Henderson, President of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

“Words have consequences, and hateful words have hateful consequences. Mr. Lucero's death is a direct consequence of the anger and hate spurred on by media outlets that mischaracterize all Latinos and the institutions that serve them as a threat to our country,” said Murguía.

"There is a direct connection between the tenor of the political debate and the daily lives of immigrants in our communities. It is no accident that, as the immigration debate has demonized immigrants as "invaders" who poison our communities with disease and criminality, haters have taken matters into their own hands and hate crimes against Latinos are on the rise for the fourth consecutive," said Michael Lieberman, Washington Counsel, Anti-Defamation League.

These seven organizations are committed to working together to monitor incidents of hate crimes and hate rhetoric, to urge Congress to pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Act and the media to cease resorting to bias and bigotry, and to increase tolerance and understanding among all communities.

To learn more about the code words of hate and what your community can do to combat hate speech, visit www.WeCanStopTheHate.org.
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