Luis Ramirez, Marcelo Lucero and the White Boys We Can’t Bring Ourselves to Convict

By Julianne Hing Aug 19, 2009

Got word from Long Island Wins that Brian Scully, the last of the six kids who beat Luis Ramirez to death to get sentenced, ended up with three years of probation, a $1,147 fine and 400 hours of community service. And lest your memory be failing you right now, let’s refresh. Luis Ramirez was 25. He lived in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania after immigrating from Iramuco, Mexico seven years ago. He worked in factories and on the farms of the mostly white town. On July 12 last year he was out with his girlfriend when a group of six kids, all members of the high school football team, approached the two of them. Michael Rubinkam narrates:

Brian Scully, 18, asked the girl, "Isn’t it a little late for you to be out?" That enraged Ramirez, who began yelling in Spanish and dialing friends on his cell phone. Scully admitted shouting ethnic slurs. The verbal sparring soon turned into a physical altercation as Ramirez and Piekarsky traded blows, though prosecutors and defense attorneys disputed who threw the first punch.

Donchak then entered the fray and wound up on top of Ramirez. Prosecutors said he pummeled Ramirez, holding a small piece of metal in his fist to give his punches more power. Defense attorneys said Donchak tried to break up the fight between Piekarsky and Ramirez and denied he had a weapon. The two sides eventually went their separate ways. But Scully kept yelling at Ramirez, leading the immigrant to charge after the group. Colin Walsh, 17, then hit Ramirez, knocking him out.

Back in May, two of Ramirez’s other assailants were acquitted, too. Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak were found not guilty of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation. In the end they were convicted of simple assault, resulting in a maximum two-year prison sentence. Simple assault and probation? For killing a man? For an obvious hate crime? My thoughts are turning now to the seven killers of Marcelo Lucero, who was stabbed to death on Long Island on November 8th last year. They are also white teenagers, thugs with knives, kids with hate in their hearts. They were indicted in July. Lucero’s case in particular has been moving at a glacial pace. I remember back in the spring when the county was trying to decide whether they had enough evidence to even charge the boys with their crime. You want to know the latest? Newsday reports that last Friday, a 22-year-old Ecuadorean man in Patchogue, New York, was robbed and beaten by three white teenagers near the same train station where Marcelo Lucero was killed. This is what racial privilege is. The miraculous ability to be seen as angelic and innocent, even when you’ve committed murder. The entitlement to pursue your future and be forgiven for your youthful, if murderous, transgressions. The knowledge that you’ll be able to put a crime behind you someday and have a life that is not defined by your criminal convictions, even though the comparatively harmless convictions of so many men of color trail them for their lifetimes, hampering work and housing and economic opportuniites. Good luck, kids. You’ll be fine. You have futures ahead of you. Even though we all know the awful, soul-gnawing guilt of having murdered a man will haunt your insides for the rest of your life.