Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Immigration > Justice needs a helping hand in the case of Luis Ramirez

Justice needs a helping hand in the case of Luis Ramirez

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 fiancé 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.

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  • Horace
    May 11, 2009 at 4:28 am

    I’m not sure why I should particularly care about Ramirez when thousands of crimes are committed by illegal aliens who’ve not been subjected to the scrutiny of our immigration system prior to entry. People like Evelyn and other advocates attempt to belittle our right to control our borders and don’t seem to mind when thousands of MS-13 gang members enter LA and other cities every day and terrorize our citizens. The hate crimes committed by these people in assaults upon black citizens in Los Angeles occur on a daily basis and practically go unreported in the news, yet when a Hispanic gets killed by two white boys, Latinos exploit it to the hilt. While the death of anyone by assault is terrible, I find it equally terrible that citizens die at the hands of those Evelyn defends every day, but that’s ok because they’re making sacrifices in the name of Latinos.

  • MaryElizabeth
    May 11, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    I hope that this case is re-tried on a federal level. I can not understand how the prosecuter approved of a jury of people that were obviously not a diverse mix. I am sure that during questioning while picking a jury there were obvious warning signs that this jury would be a problem in a hate crime case. Lots of friends tell me that Rural Shenandoah PA has a reputation of being extremely racist. It is a disgrace to our Country that these kids got away with the crime of brutally kicking Ramirez in the head until he foamed in the mouth and lost his life.

  • Evelyn
    May 12, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Marisa, because Horace personally used my name on his post I think it’s only fair I should be allowed to respond. I say this because I see some of my responses are not posted. Here it is again.
    The spin and inuendo that most immigrants are criminals wont work Horace. Credable studies show otherwise, they also show that YOU are more apt to commit a crime then an immigrant is.
    Setting the Record Straight on Immigrants and Crime
    Anti-immigrant activists and politicians are fond of relying upon anecdotes to support their oft-repeated claim that immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, are dangerous criminals. This mythical claim is usually based on rhetorical sleight of hand in which individual stories of heinous crimes committed by immigrants are presented as “proof” that we must restrict immigration or “get tough” on the undocumented in order to save the lives of U.S. citizens. While these kinds of arguments are emotionally powerful, they are intellectually dishonest. There is no doubt that dangerous criminals must be punished, and that immigrants who are dangerous criminals should not be allowed to enter the United States or should be deported if they already are here. But harsh immigration policies are not effective in fighting crime because—as numerous studies over the past 100 years have shown—immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are not associated with higher rates of crime. This holds true for both legal immigrants and the undocumented, regardless of their country of origin or level of education.
    Fact: Crime Rates in the United States Fell as the Undocumented Population Doubled
    Fact: Nationwide, Immigrants are Five Times Less Likely to be in Prison Than the Native-Born
    Fact: New Research in New Jersey and California Finds Immigrants Less Likely to be in Prison
    Fact: Immigration Violations, Not Violent Acts, Account for Most Immigrants in Federal Prison
    Fact: “U.S. citizens are twice as likely to commit crimes as legal and illegal immigrants.”
    The problem of crime in the United States is not caused or even aggravated by immigrants, regardless of their legal status. This is hardly surprising since immigrants come to the United States to pursue economic and educational opportunities not available in their home countries and to build better lives for themselves and their families. As a result, they have little to gain and much to lose by breaking the law.
    Undocumented immigrants in particular have even more reason to not run afoul of the law given the risk of deportation that their lack of legal status entails. Public policies must be based on facts, not anecdotes or emotions. And the fact is that the vast majority of immigrants are not criminals.
    Horace You say
    People like Evelyn and other advocates attempt to belittle our right to control our borders and don’t seem to mind when thousands of MS-13 gang members enter LA and other cities every day and terrorize our citizens.
    MS-13 did not enter LA. It ORIGINATED there!
    Mara Salvatrucha
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Jump to: navigation, search
    Mara Salvatrucha
    Mara Salvatrucha is a criminal gang that ORIGINATED in Los Angeles and spread to Central America and parts of the United States and Canada[2]. The gangs’ names are commonly abbreviated as MS,[3] Mara, and MS-13 they are composed mostly of Salvadorans, Hondurans, Guatemalans, and Nicaraguans.

  • Karen
    May 12, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Horace: If an illegal immigrant kills somebody he is prosecuted. I have never heard of an illegal immigrant killing somebody and getting off with “simple assault.”
    I can tell you of numerous caes though where a Latino person, illegal immigrants and American citizens, have been killed and those responsible were not brought to justice.
    One case is of Edith Isabel Rodriguez, an American who sought help at Martin Luther King Hospital in Los Angeles, only left to die in the waiting room after writhing in a pool of her own blood and vomit for 45 minutes. It was all caught on videotape and the nurse, Linda Ruttlen, who ignored her cries for help was never prosecuted. In fact Ruttlen is suing Los Angeles County for wrongful termination.
    Actress Rebecca Gayheart ran over and killed 6 year old Jorge Cruz when she tried to drive around the cars who had stopped to let the boy cross the street. She was on her cell phone when she ran over him. Even though every corner in CA is considered a cross walk, and all of the other cars stopped to let the boy cross the street, the judge determined that the boy was jay walking and Gayheart got off with a fine and community service.
    You don’t feel any sympathy for Luis Martinez because you are a racist and you suffer from a disorder that causes you to view Mexicans as subhuman. It has nothing to do with immigration. It’s about you.
    We’ll see if Obama prosecutes Ramirez’s killers on civil rights violations, but I doubt it. Obama is afraid to stand up for what is right.

  • cookie
    May 13, 2009 at 10:51 am

    None of what you two are claiming about Horace is true. All you have to do is read his posts without spinning what he has said.
    Much of the stats about lower crime rates are about legal immigrants not the illegal ones.
    It is really irrelevant anyway in the grand scheme of things. The bottom line argument that you cannot refute is that they crossed our borders illegally and in violation of our immigration laws. Our immigration policies are not harsh. They are implemented with the best interests of the American people in mind. There are many factors involved in shaping our immigration policies and all based on the above.

  • Evelyn
    May 13, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Karen you will be glad to know the DOJ is already on the case.
    When the ex cop that lives in front of where Ramirez was murdered, Eileen Burke, is called to testify what she saw, this case is going to blow wide open.
    It appears the prosecuting attorneys along with the defending attorneys and the cops were all corrupt and in collusion on the Ramirez murder case in that town.
    More than 25,000 people signed an online petition demanding that the Justice Department bring federal charges against Piekarsky and Donchak.
    According to a Justice Department spokesman, the civil rights division is currently reviewing the case.
    If there is evidence of a civil rights violation, the Obama administration should absolutely bring indictments. After all, a nation’s greatness is determined not only by what it provides but also by what it won’t allow.

  • Karen
    May 14, 2009 at 12:38 pm
    Evelyn: Burke also says that the mother of one of the defendants is engaged to a police officer. In that small town where everybody knows everybody else, they were not going to convict those killers. That’s why the DA gave the jury the option of calling a brutal murder ‘simple assault.’
    I hopoe the DOJ steps in, but I don’t think they will.
    Cookie: NAFTA is shaping our immigration policies. Corporations and their North American government lackeys passed NAFTA, a trade policy whose explicit goal was to push Mexicans off of their land to create a new labor class in the US. Corporations don’t want these laborers to have any rights (because it’s difficult to exploit people who have rights), so instead of being legalized, they are criminalized, and racists like Horace use this to justify any and all manner of abuse directed at them. It’s sick.
    We will not solve this problem until people acknowledge the consequences of NAFTA.

  • cookie
    May 15, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    NAFTA was also signed by Mexico. It doesn’t nullify our right to have and to enforce immigration laws either.

  • cookie
    May 15, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    There is no reason to legalize these people and it is against our immigration laws to come here illegally. Call it anything you like. Criminals break laws and that is why some refer to them as such.
    I have not read one post of Horaces where he stated he wants anyone abused or any racist remarks either. Care to point them out?

  • Tomas
    May 16, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    I never see any advocates for illegal immigrants apologize for this or thousands of other crimes committed by illegal aliens. Apparently they save their compassion for their own and have nothing left for others. In the face of this, is it any wonder that so few Americans are taking note of injustices done to a few of the people who cross our border illegally? To get receive compassion, one must also give it.
    Little Girl’s Death Fires Immigration Debate
    Posted: May 15, 2009 11:08 PM
    Lincoln, NE – The arrest of an illegal immigrant for the crash that killed a 4-year old girl has one Nebraska lawmaker taking action.
    Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry says the death of Josie Bluhm is a wake-up call for immigration reform.
    The suspect in the case, Eleazar Rangel-Ochoa, lost his license several times after different arrests for drunk driving. Police say he was driving on a suspended license the morning of the crash.
    Congressman Fortenberry released a statement on Friday saying, “It is hard to understand how someone with such an extensive criminal background, including four DUI offenses and multiple arrests, is not in jail nor had been reviewed for legal residency status.”
    Fortenberry calls the Ochoa case a prime example of a failed system.

  • Horace
    May 17, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Another murder committed by an illegal alien, and another reason to enforce our immigration laws. Because of your ethnocentric bias you won’t find this bit of news presented in a Latino publication.
    WHNT Exclusive: Murder Suspect Confirmed As Illegal Immigrant
    Nick Banaszak Reporter
    4:56 PM CDT, May 14, 2009
    HUNTSVILLE, AL – Huntsville police say the man who allegedly killed two Huntsville teenagers in a traffic wreck is indeed an illegal immigrant.
    Federal agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have placed a detention order on Felix Ortega. His status had been in question for weeks, with police confirming his illegal status to WHNT News 19 early Thursday.
    Authorities say that Ortega got drunk, hopped into his truck and killed the two teenagers in a traffic wreck at Airport Road and Whitesburg Drive back on April 17th. 16 year-old Leigh Anna Jimmerson and 19 year-old Tad Mattle died in the wreck.
    Also Thursday, a Huntsville police review board concluded that the officers involved in the pursuit of Ortega prior to the wreck was done in accordance with HPD policies and procedures. Officials say the officers have been cleared, with that part of the case now closed.

    June 23, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    This crime goes beyond the fact that he was illegal. When they brutally killed him. They didnt ask him for a green card. He just looked mexican thats the only reason why they cruely and cowardly attacked him. And its sad how people lik Horaca can be so idiotic and ignorant. Look for facts before you write all this things.You should do what Evelyn did PROVE all the non-sense you’ve written about.

  • Mario Ascencio
    December 1, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    It makes me sad to see these things still occuring in this so called “land of the free.” It also dissapoints me to see such biases and hate coming from such ignorant people. I won’t even talk about this incedent because it has already been discussed enough. All I want to say is that all these individuals who are claim that undocumented individuals are criminals are clearly ignorant to the facts. They don’t want to see the facts and most likely they never will. Let me put it this way to you guys. If you lived in a country where not much can be achieved, you know damn well you’d cross that border yourself, to improve the living conditions you are forced to live with in your home country. You guys think that immigrating to this country is simply crossing a line or hopping a fence, when in reality it is much more than that. You guys think that being an undocumented individual in this country is a free vacation or something, when the truth is that to many it is hell. But that is what they must endure for their family. Because regardless of what you’ve heard, the main reason people leave their country to come here IS for their families. You people have no idea what your talking about and I’m damn sure you wouldn’t be able to last a day in an undocumented person’s shoes.

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