LatinaLista — Luis Ramirez was attacked by a group of teens in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania last summer. He died two days later. Yet, the teens brought to trial for his murder were found to be guilty of only simple assault. Now, there’s a campaign underway to see that justice is served.
Last summer’s story of what happened to Luis Ramirez, who suffered a skull-busting, fatal beating at the hands of four teens in Shenandoah, Pennslyvania, rightfully outraged everyone who heard about it.
So why hasn’t the same kind of outrage been triggered by last week’s news that two of the teens, who were charged with aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation, were found by a jury to be guilty of only simple assault?
Luis Ramirez (left) and attackers Brandon Piekarsky (center) and Derrick Donchak.
For a man who had to have part of his skull removed to relieve the pressure on his brain, which still didn’t save his life, Ramirez’s attack was no simple assault. How the Schuylkill County Court jury could review the evidence, acquit the defendants of third-degree murder and arrive at their conclusion is not just incomprehensible but unjust.
On July 12, Luis Ramirez, a 25-year-old father of two, was attacked by members of the Blue Devils — not a hardened street gang, but the town’s high school football team. An eyewitness to the fight, who happened to be a former Philadelphia police officer, said that while the fight was brutal it was the response of the local police that shocked her just as much.
When the police arrived on the scene to find Ramirez bloody, unconscious and foaming at the mouth, the police officer looked like he was going to kick Ramirez because he thought he was faking.
The eyewitness told police that during the attack she heard the boys yelling the “f” word and calling Ramirez “Spic.” Somehow, Ramirez was able to call a friend for help on his cell phone during the attack. When his friends finally showed up, the eyewitness said that Ramirez’s attackers yelled, “Tell your (expletive) Mexican friends to get the (expletive) out of Shenandoah or you’ll be (expletive) laying next to him.”
The eyewitness was never called to testify in court. Hardly surprising since local officials initially failed to charge the Blue Devils with a hate crime because they said race didn’t play a role in the attack.
While people outside Shenandoah thought this would be one trial victory handed to prosecutors on a silver platter, Ramirez’s fiancÃ© predicted that the attackers would get off. As she told a New York Times reporter, “…Luis was an illegal Mexican and these are ‘all-American boys’ on the football team who get good grades, or whatever they’re saying about them. They’ll find some way to let them go.”
And so it would seem if it weren’t for the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund or MALDEF.
MALDEF was instrumental is getting the local prosecutor to change his mind about charging the boys with a hate crime, which is a federal offense. In light of the recent verdict and the obvious gross miscarriage of justice, MALDEF is spearheading a petition drive at their web site to convince the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to intervene in the Ramirez case and conduct an “independent and comprehensive investigation.”
For some reason, the DOJ needs to be convinced that the verdict in this case warrants further scrutiny. A case that involves a senseless beating by a gang of boys, on one individual, who happened to be of a different ethnicity than them, and at whom they hurled derogatory ethnic insults while delivering fatal blows would seem like a red flag case in which the punishment didn’t fit the crime.
In addition, a news article revealing that the trial’s jury foreman felt that the trial was biased because of the obvious racism and prejudice his fellow jurors exhibited throughout the proceedings further supports the argument that there is an injustice that needs to be addressed.
As John Amayo, a legislative MALDEF staff attorney said during a media conference call, “If you don’t think race matters in this country, you haven’t heard about the Luis Ramirez case.”
Latest update on the sentencing of the boys convicted of simple assault.