Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Paterson decries killing of Ecuadorean man in Patchogue

Gov. David A. Paterson yesterday decried the killing of a Patchogue man from Ecuador as a disgraceful act that "should serve as a source of outrage for all of us," and directed state law enforcement agencies to assist Suffolk Police in its investigation.

"We must remain vigilant and continue our fight to eradicate prejudice in our words and in our actions," the governor said.

His statements came in the wake of a killing that again has put Suffolk at the center of the national spotlight in the debate over immigration reform.

The head of a national Hispanic organization said anti-immigrant rhetoric incites incidents such as Saturday night's fatal stabbing of Marcello Lucero, 38.

"Hateful words have hateful consequences," said Janet Murguía, the chief executive of the National Council of La Raza. "For too long hate groups and hate speech have dominated the national debate on immigrants, mischaracterizing all Latinos and the institutions that serve them in the process."

Local lawmakers, officials and advocates yesterday questioned whether the county's recent history of high-profile debates over local immigration laws has left Suffolk with a tense climate for Hispanics. County lawmakers, spurred by County Executive Steve Levy, in recent years have passed legislation requiring county contractors and licensees to verify their employees' legal working status.

Lucero's brother, Joselo Lucero, put the blame squarely on Levy. "Steve Levy planted the seeds of hate indirectly by making people hate Hispanics," he said.

The Rev. Allan B. Ramirez, an immigrant advocate who is the pastor of the Brookville Reformed Church, decried Levy's policies. "Along with those seven men, Steve Levy, who has demonized the immigrant community, also has blood on his hands," Ramirez said.

Levy yesterday issued a statement saying Lucero's death "wasn't a question of any county policy or legislation; it was a question of bad people doing horrific things." He declined to answer questions.

Suffolk Legis. Jack Eddington (I-Medford), who lives in the same Old Medford neighborhood as two of Lucero's attackers, said Ramirez does more harm than good.

"It's easy to point fingers," he said, "but I don't see his community doing anything to help bring groups together."

Nativist sentiments like those expressed during the Legislature's long and heated public hearings on immigration are not helpful to the county's image, said Suffolk Legis. Thomas Barraga (R- West Islip). "If ... you have adults that have an anti-Latino viewpoint, that filters down to the youth," Barraga said. "Having those kind of remarks in the Legislature, it doesn't help."

Staff writer Dave Marcus contributed to this report.

Powered by FeedBurner

No comments: