A Horrific Murder and Cover-up: The Tragedy of Luis Ramirez


This story has seen extensive coverage in the blog world, but I still think it important to mark it down here

For those not familiar, here is a brief summary, which will be followed by my analysis.

In July 0f 2008, in Shenandoah, a small town in Pennsylvania, three white teenagers beat to death Luis Ramirez, an undocumented man from Mexico. Witnesses of the beating said they heard racial epithets directed towards Mr. Ramirez while the beating was going on. The three young men were acquitted of third degree murder and ethnic intimidation, but two of the suspects were convicted the lesser charge of simple assault and other minor charges. Just this month, 5 individuals, three of them police officers, were indicted by the federal government on charges related to the death of Luis Ramirez.

Donchak and Piekarsky, two of the teens who were originally acquitted of murder/ethnic intimidation of Luis Ramirez, face hate crime charges that, if convicted of, can potentially land them in prison for life.

Shenandoah Police Chief Matthew Nestor, Lt. William Moyer, and Officer Jason Hayes, are charged with conspiring to obstruct justice in the Ramirez Investigation, and Moyer is further charged with witness and evidence tampering as well as making false statements to the FBI(i.e. lying). If convicted, each officer faces up to 20 years in prison, with additional time for Moyer on making the false statements to the FBI. http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/12/15/hate.crime/index.html


The individuals charged here are innocent until proven guilty, BUT, as the evidence so far uncovered shows, what happened in Shenandoah was the following: three racist white teenagers beat to death a Mexican man. They murdered him. Then, to exacerbate the outrage of this, the police in charge of investigating the murder did their best to ensure that the three murderers got away with murder. (note: the chief of police, Matthew Nestor, was dating one of the suspects’ mother). But for the federal indictment, these people would have gotten away with murder. Who knows whether or not local police have acted similar in other parts of the United States when an “illegal” immigrant was the victim of a crime. The FBI is, after all, not all-knowing and powerful.

What happened to Luis Ramirez should never have happened, and it should never happen again. But, I am afraid that it will. I have told several individuals (parents and friends) of mine about this shocking police cover-up. The response? Overt indifference. Extrapolating to the greater American public, it  would appear that an all-too-common response would be nothing other than the same overt indifference. To many, the death of Michael Jackson, Chris Henry(NFL football player), or the marital straying of Tiger Woods, is of more importance than a shocking hate crime followed by an equally or more shocking police cover-up. I am not sure why this is so, but it runs deep in the current U.S. culture, and it is deeply disturbing. There should be a collective shout of outrage and a demand for justice for Luis Ramirez, just like their was a collective gasp of outrage at Tiger’s infidelity.

If most do not care, the same small-town(or big town) attitude of hate directed towards individuals on account of their “immigration status”(which also affects every Latino because there is no accurate means available to verify whether one is with documents or without), will be allowed to flourish, even reinforce itself, and continue its dangerous path of destruction.


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