Joye Brown at Newsday has been following the Marcelo Lucero since it began. She had a thought provoking piece in the paper today. I’d be interested to know what you thought of it. Here are some excerpts:
Both sides in the Marcelo Lucero case agreed on one thing Wednesday. The conviction and imprisonment of Jeffrey Conroy does not change Suffolk County.
Except the harsh reality that actions have consequences, which hit Conroy and his family like a fast-moving truck in a Suffolk County court proceeding filled with drama and anger, tension and, for Lucero’s family, release.
Conroy, 19, will spend the next two decades in prison.
But that does not change how people talk, or reach out or treat the county’s newest residents, illegal or otherwise. It does not fix what is broken in a region whose schools and communities remain aggressively, and profoundly segregated by income and by race.
For that, Long Island must turn to its leaders.
And that includes those who continue to profess, stubbornly, that what happened one November night two years ago was an incident isolated from what was happening in Suffolk County.
There is a larger context, one that must be acknowledged. One that must be pulled screaming from the shadows to be examined in the hard light of day. And it is this: It didn’t, and shouldn’t have turned out this way for Marcelo Lucero or Jeff Conroy.
“I did not want to meet that boy, Jeff Conroy, in a courtroom,” Lucero’s brother, Joselo, would say later. “I would have wanted to meet him at the beach. I don’t want to meet any kids in a courtroom this way.”
And what do we get from the top elected official in the county? A man who is running for governor of New York State?
Wednesday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy issued what has become his standard: A canned statement about how this case was not about illegal immigration. It was about a teenager “who branded swastikas on his person and practiced a reprehensible series of beatings against people solely on the basis of their ethnicity.”
It was about a community where, for years, too much overheated rhetoric focused on illegal immigrants rather than illegal immigration. That’s one reason the U.S. Justice Department is investigating allegations of discriminatory policing against Latinos in Suffolk County.
“This won’t change Suffolk,” Conroy’s attorney, William Keahon, said long after television networks that broadcast Conroy’s sentence around the world had left the building.
“At the inception of this case, I was outraged when our Suffolk County executive, Steve Levy, an attorney, without hearing any evidence, made statements to the press convicting my client,” he said.
“It was inappropriate and outrageous for a lawyer with the audience he has as a county executive.
“And he has created an atmosphere of hate toward young men and women that come to this country and this county to do jobs no one else will do and do it extremely well with honesty and integrity. I would vote for Mr. Lucero’s brother for governor before I would vote for Steve Levy,” he said.
To which Levy, in the statement, replied: “Mr. Keahon’s comments are as absurd and desperate as his courtroom antics.”
But what about Suffolk County? And what of its past? And what is to become of its future?
There needs to be conversation, Mr. Levy.
There are questions that need answers.
And a county that needs leadership on issues - like race and hate - to move forward.