Patchogue Lynching: Patrick Young Commentary

from WPKN News, Nov. 11, 2008:

This past weekend, 7 teenagers attacked and killed a 36 year old Equadorian immigrant on the streets of Patchogue Long Island. Marcello Lucero, who lived on Long Island for 16 years died from knife wounds Saturday night.

The police have charged Jeffrey Conroy of Medford with 1st degree manslaughter as a hate crime. His six companions are charged with 1st degree Gang Assault as a hate crime.

The killing has been condemned by Mayor Paul Pontieri of Patchogue as well as Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and New York Governor David Paterson.

Patrick Young, Program Director of the Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) and a teacher of Immigration Law at Hofstra University has this comment on the killing. (adapted from Mr. Young's commentary on

" I just returned from standing with the family and friends of Marcello Lucero at the place made holy by his death. I could still see the police markings on the street showing where his blood spilled from his body as he tried to get help after being attacked by what the New York Times called a lynch mob in Patchogue.

The horrible murder of Marcello Lucero is the latest and deadliest of a series of anti-immigrant attacks in Suffolk County. The seven young men charged in the attack come from an area a few miles south of the hamlet of Farmingville, the epicenter of anti-immigrant organizing on Long Island. Farmingville first gained national attention in 2000 when two young men abducted a pair of Mexican day laborers and tried to beat them to death. It was in the headlines again a few years later when five high school students burned down the house of a Latino family, whose sleeping occupants barely escaped with their lives.

Since then, human rights advocates have urged politicians in Suffolk to stop using the scapegoating of immigrants as a path to electoral victory. We have failed.

For example, after the beating of the two Farmingville day laborers, a member of the county legislature declared that if Mexicans moved to his town he, too, would greet them with a baseball bat. This year, as tensions mounted around immigration, the county legislature saw no less than five anti-immigrant bills proposed and a Congressional candidate ran for election in the district where the attackers were from on an anti-immigrant platform.

Suffolk's political class, led by the County Executive and the Presiding Officer of the Legislature, have done nothing to bring together the county's nearly 200,000 immigrants and 1.4 million native-born residents. Unlike other nearby suburban counties like Nassau and Westchester, Suffolk government has repeatedly missed opportunities to foster understanding and instead has depicted the hard-working immigrants of the county as a "problem" begging to be solved.

Should it surprise us that young men, hearing immigrants being described as criminals and invaders, would take it upon themselves to solve the problem with knives?


Mr. Young's commentaries on immigration issues are a daily feature of the immigration blog

Commentary adapted by Mr. Young for WPKN and was broadcast on WPKN 89.5 Bridgeport and WPKM 88.7 Montauk on Nov. 11.

Additional details about the Lucero killing can be found at

The Long Island Immigrant Alliance has called for a Candlelight Vigil to Stop Hate Against Latinos on Friday November 14 at 7pm at Railroad Avenue and Septhton Street (near the Patchogue Railroad Station).