Hate Crime in Shenandoah

As hate crimes against Latinos escalate, the community seeks justice for its latest victim. 


By Gustavo Martínez
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 21 | Posted May. 19, 2009

Share this Story:

In better times: Crystal Dillman (left) with her late fiance Luis Ramirez, the father of her two children.

Photo by The Allentown Morning Call

“Luis Ramirez was murdered. And yet no one is being held responsible for the loss of his life,” said Gladys Limón a few minutes after an all-white jury acquitted two teens charged with ethnic intimidation and aggravated assault of the Mexican immigrant. 


Limón, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), represented Crystal Dillman (the fiancee and mother of Ramirez’s two children) in a trial that shed light on the racial tension Latinos experience in their diaspora through rural America.


Hate crimes against Latinos are on par with the rising anti-immigrant sentiment prevailing throughout the country. FBI statistics show there were 1,347 victims attacked in this country because of their ethnicity or national origin. Hispanics represent 62 percent of those victimized. And though the most common offense is intimidation—2,565 in 2007—there were at least nine murders and non-negligent manslaughters in the United States. Convictions are rare.


“The justice system has failed to vindicate the death of Luis Ramirez, has failed to vindicate the communities and national interests,” said Limón shortly after defendants Brandon Piekarsky, 17, and Derrick Donchak, 19, walked out of a Schuylkill County court free of the most serious charges in Ramirez’s murder.


Now, national and local organizations are putting pressure on the federal government to further its investigations into Ramirez’s death, a sign that this issue is far from over.


“We’re engaged in consultation with other agencies to see if we would take any actions and what those actions would be,” says Barry Morrison, director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in Philadelphia. “Yet it’s premature to say what’s going to happen.”


MALDEF has already launched an online petition collecting signatures in an effort to force the Department of Justice to classify Ramirez’s death as a hate crime.


Even grassroots websites have taken up the cause. Presente.org, a site dedicated to disseminating Latino news, is asking readers to join a petition calling for Pennsylvania’s elected officials—specifically Gov. Rendell—to speak out on the acquittal of what prosecutors also labeled a hate crime. 


On the night of July 12, 2008, Luis Eduardo Ramirez, 25, was beaten to death by four white teenagers (all football players for their local high school) in Shenandoah, a town in Pennsylvania’s coal country some 80 miles north of Philadelphia. Two days later, the Mexican immigrant succumbed to his injuries at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa.


Ramirez had been waiting for his 
fiancee and her sister Roxanne Rector, 15, who had just gone to her mother’s house to ask permission to sleep over at a friend’s house. When the group of high school jocks encountered the girl, one of them, 18-year old Brian Scully, yelled, “Isn’t it a little bit late for you to be out?”


That’s when mayhem ensued. Ramirez yelled back at them in Spanish, and after a brief exchange in which Scully called him a “spic” and told him “to go back to Mexico,” the pack, lead by Piekarsky, pounced.


Ramirez was beaten, kicked and stomped on. The autopsy showed that his skull had a double fracture: one in the back of the head and another on the left side. This latter injury was so serious that his brain oozed out and swelled up, causing his basic functions to stop. 


The Trial


Piekarsky, charged with third-degree murder, was accused of delivering the fatal kick to Ramirez’s head while he lie unconscious on the ground. Piekarsky also faced aggravated assault; recklessly endangering another person; simple assault; ethnic intimidation; criminal solicitation/hindering apprehension or prosecution; and purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of liquor.


“Brandon Piekarsky snapped,” argued Assistant District Attorney Robert Frantz in his opening statement. “He rushed at Luis Ramirez, kicked him. When Brandon Piekarsky is done, Derrick Donchak rushes at him.”


Donchak, 19, was charged with aggravated assault; simple assault; recklessly endangering another person; criminal solicitation/hindering apprehension or prosecution; ethnic intimidation; corruption of minors; purchase or consumption of alcohol by a minor; and selling or furnishing alcohol to minors.


Colin Walsh, 17, another teenager involved, punched Ramirez in the chin and knocked him down, causing his head to smash against the pavement.


Walsh plead guilty in federal court to violating Ramirez’s Fair Housing Rights, admitting that his actions prevented other Latinos from moving into the area, which got all state charges against him dropped. The deal will send him to prison for four to nine years. 


In return, Walsh testified that he saw Piekarsky kick Ramirez in the head.


Page: 1 2 3 |Next
Add to favoritesAdd to Favorites PrintPrint Send to friendSend to Friend

COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 21 of 21
Report Violation

1. Edgar said... on May 19, 2009 at 10:35PM

“Hate will prevail while men exist, Its not that they dont accept someone else its just they dont even accept themselves.”

Report Violation

2. Vicente said... on May 20, 2009 at 03:01AM

““I’m completely disgusted and amazed at the jury’s improper, imprudent and deviant attitude toward this case,” says Rev. Miguel Rivera. “These individuals, all of them white, didn’t understand they had in their hands a civic and socially important case dealing with the life of a human being.”

“They should’ve presented a motion to hold the trial somewhere else because the nature of this corrupt county [Schuylkill County] aids to breed white supremacy sentiments there.”

Apparently, the "honorable" reverend was so consumed with hatred towards "White" people that he failed to see the irony of his two statements! This is especially galling considering the amount of violent crimes being perpetrated by illegal aliens on a daily basis, most of whom are Hispanic, I'm ashamed to say. Where is the reverend when an illegal executes several African-American students in New Jersey, or when an ilegal alien gang-banger murders a father and two teens with an AK-47 in San Francisco?”

Report Violation

3. Ronnie said... on May 20, 2009 at 10:44AM

“Vicente, the high school jocks were drunk. Pure and simple facts. This isn't a matter of Reverend Rivera hating whites, it's about a bunch of drunks getting away with murder. Frankly, what disturbs me the most is that you still don't get it. Your comments about violent crimes being perpetrated by Hispanics is about as crazy as me saying that all Italians are a bunch of drunks.”

Report Violation

4. Nancy said... on May 20, 2009 at 11:36AM

“Vicente: You missed the most important point of the entire article. It is not about immigration status and it is not about race alone; it is about:

1. hate towards others based on color, creed, status
2. the danger of allowing hate or prejudice to impact our system if justice

A man is dead. His status, or what other undocumented people have done in the past, does not negate that a human being was killed by young people filled with hate and alcohol. These young people that will not be held accountable for the murder they committed. That is not justice.”

Report Violation

5. Floripondio said... on May 20, 2009 at 11:52AM

“Come on Vicente. So you are saying that because the victim was an illegal alien it is kind of OK they killed him because other illegal aliens have committed crimes in the past. Why do you even have to mention that? I do recognize that the Reverend shouldn’t emphasize the fact that people in the jury were all white but… it kind of is a hate crime so it is an important fact.
And by the way, all those illegal aliens that committed those crimes you just mention should be in jail. Not because they are aliens but because they committed crimes.

Report Violation

6. Pissedoffblackman said... on May 20, 2009 at 05:10PM

“Vicnete, Your words are the precise reason why things like this continue to happen in '2009'. Because you are so ignorant to realize that just because some other illegal alien is violent, doesn't mean that 1. All hispanics are illegals and violent and 2. that the actions of these boys is justified. I'm so sick of ignorant whites always making excuses for their own behaviors but always tries to throw the book at other nationalities when they get in trouble. Whites are the most destructive, corrupt, and dishonest race on the face of the earth. The only race who got away with almost a half a millineum of rape, torture, and murder and who still will open their mouths to call another race lazy and dangerous. Not one single white has ever been persecuted for what they did to an entire race of people and even in today's times when we see injustice, people like yourself still try to make excuses instead of trying to punish those that are wrong. I only hope one day that you and your kind dont come face to face with the rath of one of us minorities who you think are so dangerous and ignorant. I know that I won't hold anything back, cuz that's all you people seem to understand. Hate, torture and death.”

Report Violation

7. Anonymous said... on May 21, 2009 at 10:03AM

“Pissedoffblackman,

Speaking of destructive, American blacks are four times more likely to kill whites than the reverse. When we adjust for population, this means Blacks kill across race 31 times as much as whites. And 99.99% of the time, "hate crime" is not attached to black violence. This no doubt makes you very happy, judging from your threatening comment. My guess is that you've had some hilarious run-ins with the law and should probably be checking in with your parole officer right about now. Either that or your psychiatrist.”

Report Violation

8. justicenot beingmade said... on Jun 24, 2009 at 12:04PM

“why is always ok to kill immigrants but when an immigrant commits a crime everybody wants to kill i am very discussed buy the way the jury handled this case 4 killers are out after leaving 4 kids, mother and a wife by themselves now 2 kids are going to grow up with out their fathers because 4 sick minded ingnorant guys are out enjoying life this is wrong and no one seems to care if they did it once they will doit again”

Report Violation

9. A. Lopez said... on Oct 22, 2009 at 12:20PM

“Just saw this on CNN. Those kids got away with murder...there's no way to justify that. Was it an accident? Oops, sorry we didn't mean to kill you! WTF. I've never been to Shenandoah, but if this is the quality of the people there, why ever bother. Shenandoah sucks!”

Report Violation

10. Castro said... on Oct 23, 2009 at 02:59PM

“It is ridiculous that this happend....I saw this last night too and why is it that even after the death of Luis, ignorant caucaisians (on cnn while Soledad O'Brien was interviewing) still say if he wasnt't here illegally that wouldn't of happend? it is about IGNORANCE, and being drunk and parents not taking responsability of their 4 sons and teaching them right from wrong and getting away with murder.”

Report Violation

11. Castro said... on Oct 23, 2009 at 03:11PM

“Visit WWW.MALDEF.ORG and seach Luis Ramirez......summit a petition for justice”

Report Violation

12. Jenn said... on Oct 26, 2009 at 10:19AM

“It has nothing to do with being drunk, being drunk is an excuse for what happened. I'm sorry, but drinking alcohol doesn't cause you to beat a man to death while screaming racist remarks at him. I can't ever imagine my husband, my father or son dying in such a horrific way. These kids literally got away with murder & I think it's such a shame that in this day and age people can do something like this & get off. The truth is if they had been a group of Mexican or Latino football players who had beaten a white man to death they'd definitely be doing more than 6 months in jail. Shenandoah's police force is despicable they're supposed to be protecting the victim not the perpetrators. I hope an investigation turns this case around, Luis Ramirez's children and fiancee deserve justice, not this joke. Visit www.maldef.org and sign the petition to get justice for Luis Ramirez.”

Report Violation

13. Mexican/American CAL. said... on Oct 27, 2009 at 05:22PM

“What about the children of Luis Ramirez, they don’t have a father. Those little punk's, that's all you are Little punk's. I hope there's another trial, any when you all do some real time. the family of the killers should send a check every month to raise those poor kids. A man died because he was a illegal immigrant. But this country was built by Immigrants.

Report Violation

14. Mexican/American CAL. said... on Oct 27, 2009 at 05:22PM

“What about the children of Luis Ramirez, they don’t have a father. Those little punk's, that's all you are Little punk's. I hope there's another trial, any when you all do some real time. the family of the killers should send a check every month to raise those poor kids. A man died because he was a illegal immigrant. But this country was built by Immigrants.

Report Violation

15. Mexican/American CAL. said... on Oct 27, 2009 at 05:22PM

“What about the children of Luis Ramirez, they don’t have a father. Those little punk's, that's all you are Little punk's. I hope there's another trial, any when you all do some real time. the family of the killers should send a check every month to raise those poor kids. A man died because he was a illegal immigrant. But this country was built by Immigrants.

Report Violation

16. Mexican/American CAL. said... on Oct 27, 2009 at 05:22PM

“What about the children of Luis Ramirez, they don’t have a father. Those little punk's, that's all you are Little punk's. I hope there's another trial, any when you all do some real time. the family of the killers should send a check every month to raise those poor kids. A man died because he was a illegal immigrant. But this country was built by Immigrants.

Report Violation

17. Mexican/American CAL. said... on Oct 27, 2009 at 05:24PM

“What about the children of Luis Ramirez, they don’t have a father. Those little punk's, that's all you are Little punk's. I hope there's another trial, any when you all do some real time. the family of the killers should send a check every month to raise those poor kids. A man died because he was a illegal immigrant. But this country was built by Immigrants. Shenandoah sucks!””

Report Violation

18. Mexican/American CAL. said... on Oct 27, 2009 at 05:36PM

“What about the children of Luis Ramirez, they don’t have a father. Those little punk's, that's all you are Little punk's. I hope there's another trial, any when you all do some real time. the family of the killers should send a check every month to raise those poor kids. A man died because he was a illegal immigrant. But this country was built by Immigrants. Shenandoah sucks!””

Report Violation

19. Mexican/American CAL. said... on Oct 27, 2009 at 05:36PM

“What about the children of Luis Ramirez, they don’t have a father. Those little punk's, that's all you are Little punk's. I hope there's another trial, any when you all do some real time. the family of the killers should send a check every month to raise those poor kids. A man died because he was a illegal immigrant. But this country was built by Immigrants. Shenandoah sucks!””

Report Violation

20. Mexican/American CAL. said... on Oct 27, 2009 at 05:36PM

“What about the children of Luis Ramirez, they don’t have a father. Those little punk's, that's all you are Little punk's. I hope there's another trial, any when you all do some real time. the family of the killers should send a check every month to raise those poor kids. A man died because he was a illegal immigrant. But this country was built by Immigrants. Shenandoah sucks!””

Report Violation

21. ShoeLaceThing said... on Oct 7, 2010 at 06:08PM

“What is this guy doing out with the 14 year old sister of the 15 year old with whom he has two children already? Or did he impregnate the girl when she was 12 years old? What part of illegal does he not understand? So what if a bunch of drunk jocks made comments? This guy deserves comments. And then this illegal Mexican incestuous rapist calls in his gang friends with their guns and they are ready for a brawl. This guy is trash. The jocks got carried away around someone who is total trash, and he goaded them into murdering him. Shenandoah does not suck. That girl was out too late. They told the truth to someone who is complete trash and things escalated out of control.”

ADD COMMENT

Rate:
(HTML and URLs prohibited)