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Posts Tagged ‘Latinos in America’


Last week, while we learned of the death penalty sentence given to Minutemen leader and murderer Shawna Forde for the home invasion killing of two Latino American citizens, two Pennsylvania men convicted of severely beating an illegal Mexican immigrant in 2008 were sentenced last Wednesday to nine years in prison.

As reported by CBS News, the two men, Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky, were part of a group of white high school football players in Shenandoah, PA who attacked 25-year-old Luis Ramírez in 2008. Prosecutors in the case, which produced a conviction last October, claimed that the players beat Ramírez because of his ethnicity and because they didn’t want Ramírez living in their town. Ramírez eventually died from the injuries sustained in the brutal beating.

Luis Ramírez, beaten by white teenagers and eventually died from the injuries sustained

As CBS reports:

Justice Department prosecutor Myesha Braden said in court Wednesday that while Piekarsky, now 19, and Donchak, now 21, did not intend to kill Ramirez, they decided his ethnicity made him “somehow worthy of being beaten like a dog in the streets.”

Defense attorneys said they will appeal the verdicts and sentences.

The pair were convicted in October. They could have received more than 12 years to more than 15 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, but U.S. District Judge Richard Caputo granted them a reduction because of their personal character and conduct before Ramirez’s beating, as well as the numerous letters and testimonials he received.

He also noted Ramirez’s death and the crimes of Piekarsky and Donchak.

“The jury found that Mr. Ramirez died as a result of his ethnicity or race. This is serious business in America,” said Caputo, adding: “There are no winners here, only losers.”

Brandon Piekarsky, Copyright © The Associated Press

The report presents a good summary of the case, which garnered national attention last year:

Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed that youth, testosterone and alcohol played a role. But they argued over the mindset of a quartet of belligerent teens who called Ramirez an ethnic slur, told him to go back to Mexico and assaulted the immigrant with their fists and feet.

Federal charges were brought against Piekarsky and Donchak after another all-white jury acquitted them of serious state crimes, including third-degree murder in Piekarsky’s case. Hispanic activists decried the May 2009 verdict, calling Ramirez’s death part of a rising tide of hate crimes against Latinos. They and Gov. Ed Rendell appealed for a Justice Department prosecution.

Piekarsky was accused of delivering a fatal kick to Ramirez’s head after he’d been knocked unconscious by another teen, Colin Walsh, who pleaded guilty in federal court and testified against his childhood friends. A fourth teen, Brian Scully, pleaded guilty in juvenile court and also testified for the prosecution.

Both defendants were convicted of a hate crime under the Fair Housing Act. Donchak also was convicted of two counts that he conspired with three Shenandoah police officers to cover up the crime. Those officers were tried last month in federal court on charges they obstructed a federal investigation into the fatal beating, but a jury rejected most of the government’s case.

Derrick Donchak, Copyright © The Associated Press

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In light of the new developments occurring at the University of Puerto Rico as reported by Fox News Latino, Illinois Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D) spoke from the floor of the House of Representatives to focus more attention on Puerto Rico’s political status. Here is the video of Rep. Gutiérrez’s remarks:

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Before I begin this post, a little bit about me: I love stand-up and great sketch comedy. Since 1993, I have done improv comedy in the Boston area with ImprovBoston, a Boston comedy institution. I love humor that is intelligent yet hilarious (why someone like Eddie Murphy or Chris Rock is genius). I wanted to share my background since what I am going to say next might sound a little bit knee-jerky.

NBC’s Saturday Night Live, one of the TV’s longest-running brands (and some say a brand that has run too long), still doesn’t get it when it comes to Latinos and comedy. Its only Latino cast member is Fred Armisen (half-Venezuelan), who has been on the show for 9 years and developed the “Fericito” characters and the catchphrase “I’m just keeeeeeding.” There is no major high-profile Latino comedy writer, and quite frankly, SNL just misses the boat.

It is as if SNL has one theme when it comes to Latinos: always have them speak with accents because that is funny. Got it, SNL. You have been doing that same tired bit since Garrett Morris (a non-Latino) played Chico Escuela (“Ebaseball has been berry berry good to me.”) in the 1970s.

Chico Escuela

 

The show has never had an Eddie Murphy Latino equivalent (Horatio Sanz? Really?) and I am convinced that it never will, unless SNL realizes that if you are going to try and target key demographics, you should at least try to be funny.

So instead of getting comedy that might actually connect with a growing and savvy US Latino demographic, we get skits like these (ESPN Deportes), which ran on the January 16 show with Gwenyth Paltrow:

Ok, the idea of the skit is funny. The execution is not. Yeah, we get it, but it could have been so much more clever. Maybe actually having bilingual and bicultural writers on your staff might actually help? Yes, SNL we get it, ever since Chico Escuela, your characterizations of Latinos of unintelligent, foreign and party-loving dolts is a theme that we’re tired of.

So less skits about “The Manuel Ortiz Show,” like this one:


And more skits that just, mmh, maybe just have some real Latino talent doing mainstream comedy?

Maybe it just doesn’t matter to you.

But we’re not keeeeeeding.

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