What would you do if the governor said one of your classes was now illegal? That's what's happening in Arizona, where the governor just signed a bill aimed at banning ethnic studies in the public schools. Judy Burns (pictured above), president of the school district in Tucson, Arizona, says those classes will go on anyway. She sees how important they are to the students. "I see how engaged the kids are in their education, some of them for the very first time," she says. "They feel empowered. It wakes them up to the possibilities of their future. " On May 11, Arizona passed a law that would ban classes designed primarily for students of particular ethnic groups, or that advocate ethnic solidarity or promote resentment of a race or a class of people. Any district teaching such classes would risk losing 10 percent of its state financing once the law goes into effect Dec. 31. Rather than being divisive, as supporters of the new law claim, Burns says ethnic studies make students more sensitive to the history and culture of other peoples, as well as proud of their own. It makes them better citizens.
Marcelo Lucero's killer, Jeffrey Conroy, was convicted of manslaughter as a hate crime today in Suffolk County, NY. In these videos, Joselo Lucero describes what it has felt like for him and his family to live through the hearings and trials of the defendants charged with the hate-based killing of his brother. Since the tragic killing of Marcelo Lucero, Not In Our Town has been following the community of Patchogue, NY as it deals with issues of race, immigration, hate and intolerance. The upcoming feature documentary, Not In Our Town III, chronicles the efforts of Patchogue's diverse residents and leaders as they grapple with the aftereffects of the murder and begin to take action to make their community safe for everyone.
NEW VIDEO: "JOSELO'S JOURNEY, PART 1" What if you had to listen to the details of your brother's murder, over and over again? That's what Joselo Lucero is going through, as he sits in the Long Island courtrooms where 19-year-old Jeffrey Conroy is now standing trial for the murder of Joselo's brother, Marcelo. Marcelo Lucero, an immigrant from Ecuador, was attacked and stabbed to death in the small town of Patchogue, N.Y. in a hate crime assault in November 2008. Seven local teenagers were charged in the attack. Today one of the assailants, testifying against Conroy, the only teen charged with murder, said the seven teens often went "beaner hopping," which he described to the court as “it’s when you go out and look for Hispanics to beat up.” The community of Patchogue and Latino leaders are working to address the safety concerns of immigrants in the aftermath of the crime.
Shenandoah, PA: When two Pennsylvania teenagers were acquitted in May in the fatal beating of a Mexican immigrant laborer, many people, from the victim's widow to the state governor, felt justice had not been served. Apparently the Department of Justice had similar concerns. And now they're charging local police as well. On Dec. 10, 2009, Derrick Donchak, 18, and Brandon Pikarsky, 19, were indicted on federal hate crime charges in the July 2008 beating death of 25-year-old Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala. The town's police chief and two police officers were also indicted on charges of obstruction of justice and covering up evidence to protect the defendants, who were popular high school football players. Prosecutors told reporters the investigation was spoiled because the officers helped the boys invent a story that concealed the racial motivation for their attack. Donchak and Piekarsky were acquitted by an all-white county jury of murder, manslaughter, and aggravated assault, Pennsylvania's equivalent of hate crimes. They were found guilty of simple assault and given light jail time. Piekarsky was scheduled for release this month.
Tragedy Shapes Community Leadership Joselo Lucero never imagined that he would become a spokesperson and a symbol for community safety and immigrants’ rights. As he spoke Saturday night before the crowd gathered at the site of his brother’s murder one year earlier, the hundreds who had gathered despite inclement weather stood rapt.
Three Mountain View teenagers were arrested for committing a hate crime, among other charges, after the teens allegedly yelled racial slurs and threatened to kill four 11-year-old Latino boys. The three white teenagers, two 15-year-old boys and one 14-year-old boy, were shouting racially offensive statements about Mexicans to the four Latino youth from inside their house, according to statements made by the victims to the police. After the two groups started arguing, the suspects came out of the house carrying a BB gun. The suspects, who are all students at Mountain View High School, allegedly continued to make hateful remarks and threatened to kill the victims with their weapon. This incident is the second potential hate crime to hit Mountain View recently. Spanish-language signs put up by one of the local school districts were stolen, defaced, and re-posted in late October with the words “No More Aliens.” Police have been unable to definitively determine if the vandalism constitutes a hate crime, but school officials are stepping up their efforts to ensure their signs are safe.