Where was the Justice for Luis Ramirez?

(This post was originally published at WireTap Magazine)

It’s old news in the papers now, but in the last week I’ve still been thinking about Luis Ramirez, and how his family must deal with the acquittal of the two young white men who allegedly killed him. The all white jury of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania cleared the men of ethnic intimidation and third degree murder charges. Apparently the jury believed that the killers’ actions could be excused because they were drunk, because the victim was the supposed aggressor, that it was a simple case of self defense.

I’ve been thinking about the recurring notion that is the “post-racial world,” the phrase bombarding the public in the media, telling us that race relations have improved because of the Obama administration.

I’ve been thinking about Vincent Chin, who was brutally killed in Detroit by two autoworkers over 20 years ago. These workers were also acquitted of all charges by an all white jury in Cincinnati. There was a growing movement in the API community to seek justice for Vincent Chin. I think of his family, still seeking justice all these years later.

I’ve been thinking about Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s blog post on Philip Markoff and how the media writes more forgivingly about young white men murderers than men of color because they work with the framework that those white men “just don’t do stuff like this.”

How are people of color supposed to find justice in predominantly white areas of the United States, areas where they continue to be blamed for jobs being taken away from white folks and where there is still an anxiety about immigration in those areas? The jury was unwilling to see the relationship between the attitudes about immigration and the increased violence against Latinos in the area. What happens when a jury is anything but made up of our peers?

It’s important for all communities of color to continue the conversation about Luis Ramirez, in order to find some kind of justice for a man who did not deserve to have his life cast aside by a jury. What Ramirez’s life reminds us of is that racial injustice may continue to exist subversively in many parts of the country, but in many areas, hate crimes against people of color go beyond language, can become violent, and end in death. Encourage the United States Department of Justice to conduct an independent investigation and to acknowledge the gravity of hate crimes by signing the MALDEF petition and searching for local movements that may be taking place in your community.

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