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.
Shenandoah, PA: After last week’s acquittal of two Pennsylvania teenagers charged with the fatal beating of Luis Ramirez, July 12, 2008, the civil rights group Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund has called on the U.S. Justice Department to intervene. “It is time for the Department of Justice to step in and bring justice to the Ramirez family and send a strong message that violence targeting immigrants will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said MALDEF Interim President Henry Solano. Justice Department spokesman Alejandro Miyar says the civil rights division is reviewing evidence in the case.
UPDATE: Community members in Shenandoah, where Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez was murdered, are planning a Unity Celebration. The event is taking place at the same time as another group holds an “anti-illegal immigration rally.” “The only proven way to counter their effect is to hold a positive, safe, meaningful and uplifting event at the same time,” Unity Celebration organizers said. “They are using us and our misfortunes for their own agenda.” The Unity Celebration will be held Saturday, August 30th, 6 -7 :30PM, at Kahillat Isreal Non-Denominational Christian Church, 213 W. Oak St., Shenandoah.
On July 14, 2008, 25-year-old Luis Eduardo Ramirez, a Mexican immigrant and resident of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, was brutally beaten to death by a group of teenagers from the small Appalachian town. As Ramirez was kicked and punched, witnesses say the teens yelled racist slurs at Ramirez, and told the woman he was walking home with to “get your Mexican boyfriend out of here.” Ramirez was beaten so severely he never regained consciousness, and two days later, died from his injuries.