The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General of the United States
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Mr. Attorney General:
We are confident the Justice Department has been closely monitoring the tragic events involving the fatal beating of Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala in Shenandoah Pennsylvania on July, 12, 2008. As you know, earlier this month a Schuylkill County jury acquitted two of the perpetrators of the most serious charges against them, convicting them only of simple assault in this case which has attracted national attention.
We write to urge you to investigate and file federal criminal civil rights charges against the perpetrators of this crime. We hope you share our view that a conviction of simple assault in this case is wholly inadequate – and that filing federal criminal civil rights charges meet the statutory test of “in the public interest and necessary to secure substantial justice.” There is very substantial evidence that bias motivation triggered and prolonged this brutal attack by multiple perpetrators who punched Mr. Ramirez, knocked him to the ground, and then kicked him in the head, resulting in his death.
ADL’s Eastern Pennsylvania Regional Office in Philadelphia has been actively involved in tracking and responding to an increase in community tensions in and around Shenandoah since the fatal beating. The League has reached out to civic, religious, business, and education leaders in Shenandoah to ease community tensions, offering our own technical assistance and educational programs in an effort to promote improved intergroup relations.
In addition, the League has been at the forefront of monitoring and exposing the hateful and racist ideas that have infiltrated the debate over comprehensive immigration reform. It is no accident that, as some voices in the immigration debate have demonized immigrants as “invaders” who poison our communities with disease and criminality, haters have taken matters into their own hands. ADL has documented a growing atmosphere of bigotry and xenophobia and a disturbing increase in the number of violent assaults against Hispanics, legal, and undocumented immigrants – and those perceived to be immigrants. Across the nation, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis have also exploited the immigration issue to advance their own agenda. The FBI has documented an increased number of anti-Hispanic crimes in each of the last four years in their annual Hate Crime Statistics Act reports.
This demonization of immigrants has led to an increased sense of fear in communities around the country and created a toxic environment in which hateful rhetoric targeting immigrants has become much too frequent. Justice Department involvement in the Shenandoah case will send a strong message that, whatever one’s views on the immigration debate, bias-motivated violence is utterly unacceptable and will be punished to the full extent of the law.
We have great faith in the impact of federal criminal civil rights prosecutions. As you know, the League has led the campaign to permit the federal government to provide more assistance to local authorities in investigating and prosecuting hate crimes through enactment of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
We urge the Justice Department to promptly investigate and prosecute the fatal beating of Luis Ramirez to the full extent of federal law.
|Glen S. Lewy
|Abraham H. Foxman