PATCHOGUE, LONG ISLAND, NY, November 18 — Hundreds attended the November 16 funeral service for Marcelo Lucero held at a local church. The day before, a few thousand people attended a vigil protesting the racist murder of Mr. Lucero, a laundry worker from Ecuador, who was walking with a friend when a racist gang of drunken teenagers attacked them.
The gang told cops they were “hunting for Mexicans.” Mr. Lucero tried to defend himself, but was outmanned. Swastika-tattooed Jeffrey Conroy plunged a knife into Mr. Lucero’s chest, killing him. Conroy has reportedly been involved in other anti-immigrant attacks. Shortly before the gang assaulted Mr. Lucero, it beat up a restaurant worker from Colombia who managed to get away.
PLP’ers at the vigil distributed 200 CHALLENGES and gave out hundreds of leaflets titled, “Don’t Be a Sucker for Racism: Racist Hysteria Pushed by Bosses, ICE and Politicians Behind Murder of Marcelo Lucero.” [ICE is the Immigration and Customs Enforcement cops].
The people at the rally were mostly Latino, but were joined by many blacks, Asians and whites who came to demonstrate their outrage over this racist crime. Those who read the PL leaflet readily agreed that this murder was not an isolated incident but part of a national campaign to terrorize and scapegoat immigrants.
Though speeches by preachers and politicians were pretty lame, the mood of the crowd wasn’t. When Patchogue’s mayor spoke the crowd started shouting “Justice! Justice!”
One older Jewish teacher there told a retired PL teacher that she had attended County executive meetings to oppose the anti-immigrant proposals of Steve Levy, Suffolk County chief. She asked rhetorically: “Do you think these stupid kids would have done this without years of people being riled up by politicians like Levy?” When asked about Levy’s party, she said: “Oh, he’s a Democrat. You know they’re all the same!”
Levy has been a major force in the anti-immigrant hysteria sweeping the U.S., which in many areas has become ethnic cleansing. Last year, Levy asked county cops and ICE cops to raid homes where undocumented immigrants were believed to be living.
This led to one immigrant being found dead in the woods near Huntington Station. Mr. Lucero’s killers came from an area near Farmingville, L.I., where, in 2000, two Mexican day-laborers were kidnapped and beaten. In 2003, five racist teens set fire to a Mexican family’s house.
A group of anti-racists, including PLP’ers, were arrested back then after confronting a racist harassing day-laborers in the area. After a lengthy trial, the anti-racists defeated the frame-up charges.
Even after these racist incidents, Levy continued preaching his poison, actually appearing on national TV on the CNN Lou Dobbs program, another anti-immigrant racist.
The murder of Mr. Lucero occurred as a murder trial is beginning in Shenandoah, Pa. Over the summer, in a similar incident, a gang of white high school football players killed Luis Ramirez, 25, a laborer from Mexico.
Meanwhile, even the FBI has reported that since 2003, hate crimes against Latinos have increased by 40%. But another branch of Homeland Security, ICE (the Immigration police) is intensifying this racist trend with its Gestapo-like raids of factories nation-wide, separating children from their parents. Of all hate crimes targeting national origin and ethnicity, 62% are committed against Latinos.
This racist assault against undocumented immigrants is based on the big lie that these workers “take away jobs” and social services from “Americans.” Those who fall for this garbage — like these racist teens or workers who applauded when fellow immigrant workers were arrested in a plant raided by ICE (tipped off by the pro-boss union) — are just dividing our class. They are cutting their own throats by helping the bosses, the source of all our problems. It’s no accident that amid this racist pogrom against immigrants, millions are losing their homes and jobs and social services are being slashed. Meanwhile, the government is bailing out the big bankers and bosses guilty of these attacks and is spending trillions on the oil wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, without any major fight-back by workers.
In New York State, NYC Republican Mayor Bloomberg, a multi-billionaire, and Democratic governor David Paterson have just announced massive layoffs and cutbacks in all public services, and increased tolls and fares in public transportation.
Those who think that Obama will help workers are in for a big surprise. Obama has shown that his first loyalty is to the same bankers and bosses behind the economic meltdown.
As communists, PLP’ers say that when workers and youth get suckered by racism, the entire working class suffers from the resulting disunity. One example of how racism disarms all workers and youth politically: one of the teenagers who attacked Mr. Lucero is the son of a Puerto Rican and African-American family, themselves victimized by racist attacks when they first moved to Long Island several decades ago. So this youth, instead of fighting the racist rulers and their thugs, joins in an attack against other victims of racism.
Unless we overcome racial divisions and wage a united fight against capitalism, we will never be able to achieve a society that serves our needs, not those of the billionaires and their bought-and-paid-for politicians.