Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This is what hate looks like in Pennsylvania

After they had beaten Luis Ramirez to death, the white teenagers who attacked him sent an ominous message to Luis' friends:

"Tell your f**king Mexican friends to get the f**k out of Shenandoah or you'll be f**king laying next to him."1

Just over a week ago, two of Ramirez's killers were acquitted of all serious charges by an all white jury2, with the jury foreman making it clear that justice for Ramirez had no chance in the small town of Shenandoah, PA:

"I believe strongly that some of the people on the jury were racist. I believe strongly that some of the people on the jury had their minds made up maybe before the first day of trial...And I believe the four boys that were involved the most are racist. I absolutely do..."3

The Department of Justice is now looking into Ramirez' death.4 But that's only part of what's needed. Where are the leaders in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania? Why has Governor Rendell had nothing to say? His silence is shameful.

Until our elected leaders speak up, we can expect more stories like Luis'--not just in Shenandoah, but across the country. Governor Rendell owes it to Pennsylvanians and Latinos everywhere to condemn and speak out on what's happened. Together we can demand that he does. Please click the link below to add your voice and ask your friends and family to do the same. It takes only a moment.


If Luis Ramirez's death were an isolated event it would be outrageous enough. Sadly, it's part of a growing trend of racially motivated violence against Latinos, particularly in rural communities. According to the FBI, hate crimes against Latinos rose 35% between 2003 and 2006.5 And as author David Niewert writes, the target of hate crimes goes beyond their immediate victims: "The purpose is to terrorize the target community, to drive them out, eliminate them."6

That kind of intimidation only works only if the people who are targeted remain silent, and officials in positions of power remain unaccountable. That's why we need to speak out and let folks across the country know we won't tolerate hate and violence towards our communities. It starts with demanding that the Governor of Pennsylvania make clear that anti-immigrant hate has no place in Pennsylvania. It's time for him to show leadership now.

Join us in calling for him to speak out:


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