UPDATE: Beaten To Death For Being Latino

On July 12th, in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, Luis Ramirez was ruthlessly beaten by a group of youths, including some players on the town’s high school football team. Two days later, the 25 year-old died from severe head injuries. Ramirez came to the United States from Mexico six years ago. He has lived here illegally since that time, working two jobs, and fathering three children.

Despite several witness reports that the assailants yelled racial slurs, authorities are claiming the beating wasn’t racially motivated. What is worse is that almost two weeks later, despite eye-witness testimony and identification, charges have yet to be filed.

Arielle Garcia and her husband Victor dropped Ramirez off at the park moments before the attack. They received a panicked call from Ramirez asking them to turn around to pick him up. By the time the Garcia's arrived, the verbal harassment had escalated to brutality. Arielle and Victor watched helplessly as the gang threw Ramirez to the ground, stepped on his chest and kicked him in the head.

When police finally arrived, the assailants fled. Arielle told Latina that she attempted to assist police by pointing them in the direction the attackers ran. Police responded by telling her that chasing the assailants down was “not their priority.” They claimed that someone reported a gun on the scene, and began to search Victor’s person and jeep. According to Arielle, they were “no help.”

The killing, the disinterest of local law enforcement, and the lack of media attention surrounding this event reveal long-simmering tensions not only in the blue-collar town of Shenandoah, PA, but across the whole country.

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that the number of hate groups has risen 35 percent since 2000, and the Anti-Defamation League reports that extremist groups are using the racism and xenophobia inherent in the immigration debate to incite violence against Latinos, regardless of citizenship status, across the country.

From the rhetoric used by cable TV hosts to the rising rate of violence against Latinos, hate is preventing the serious and much needed immigration debate from being resolved and costing innocent Latinos, like Luis Ramirez, their lives.

What do you think should be done in the case of Luis Ramirez? Why do you think it has taken so long for charges to be pressed against the attackers? Do you think the young men who beat him should be tried for a hate crime?

- Alicia Menendez 

UPDATE: Of the 6 young men eyewitnesses identified, two were charged with homicide and a third face charges related to the incident. It will be interesting to see if the other three boys will face similar charges.

CNN has posted video interviews of Crystal Dillman, Arielle Garcia and a father of one of the accused boy's online.
Crystal voices her desire to seek justice for the murder of her fiance and says, "I'm 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. They could say what they want, our friends and family know that he was a good guy. 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. If he would have done this to them, maybe they would understand, and they would want him to be in jail. But because he's an illegal Mexican they don't care, right away he's less important." Interview with Crystal Dillman

Click to watch interview with Arielle Garcia, eyewitness

Click to watch interview with father of a suspect

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About this author

Mariela Rosario,

I'm a raging opinionista and I love to share my ramblings on everything from pop culture to food to stuff that makes me laugh & cry! I've worked in all types of media (TV, film, print) and was previously the online editor at Latina magazine before joining Mamás Latinas. On most nights you can find me working my way through my library of cookbooks or playing with my puppy Lola (my only child so far). I have a wonderful hubby who shares my passion for any and all kinds of travel. Together, we've formed a semi-professional wine drinking team.

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