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ADL Urges Justice Department to Prosecute Shenandoah Hate Crime

New York, NY, May 13, 2009 The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) urged federal authorities to investigate and prosecute the 2008 murder of an undocumented Mexican immigrant in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. 

In July 2008, a group of white teenagers fatally beat Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala while yelling racial epithets.  Earlier this month, a jury acquitted two of the perpetrators of the most serious charges, instead convicting them of simple assault.

"A conviction of simple assault in this case is wholly inadequate," said Glen S. Lewy ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  "There is substantial evidence that bias motivation triggered and prolonged this brutal attack.  We urge the Justice Department to promptly investigate and prosecute the fatal beating of Luis Ramirez."

In a letter to United States Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., the ADL leaders said "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."

At a news conference today in Washington D.C., ADL joined with a broad coalition of civil rights organizations and elected officials in calling on the Justice Department to consider filing federal criminal civil rights charges against the perpetrators. 

The coalition includes the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA).

The coalition urged the Senate to swiftly pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.  The bill would permit the Justice Department to assist local hate crime prosecutions and, where appropriate, to investigate and prosecute hate crimes in which the victim is targeted because of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.

The House of Representatives recently approved the legislation by a vote of 249-175.

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.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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Read ADL's Letter to Attorney General Holder

ADL Hails House Approval of Hate Crime Legislation (4/29/09)

ADL Decries Killing of Undocumented Immigrant in Shenandoah (7/29/08)

Op-Ed: Shenandoah Murder Did Not Occur in a Vacuum

Immigration: Reports and Resources

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2009 Anti-Defamation League