Boys Will Be Boys Will Be… Killers?

You read this story yet?

Marcelo Lucero was killed late Saturday night near the commuter railroad station in Patchogue, N.Y., a middle-class village in central Long Island. He was beaten and stabbed. The friend who crouched beside him in a parking lot as he lay dying, soaked in blood, said Mr. Lucero, who was 37, had come to the United States 16 years ago from Ecuador.

The police arrested seven teenage boys, who they said had driven into the village from out of town looking for Latinos to beat up. The police said the mob cornered Mr. Lucero and another man, who escaped and later identified the suspects to the police. A prosecutor at the arraignment on Monday quoted the young men as having said: “Let’s go find some Mexicans.” They have pleaded not guilty.

As disturbing as that is, I am also troubled by the New York Times’ follow-up article by Anne Barnard, Admired by Many, but to Police a Killer. The article bends over backwards to paint the group of boys involved as basically “good kids” who just got a little carried away during a rousing night of “jump the Mexican.”

Prosecutors say he admitted to the police that he fatally stabbed Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorean immigrant, on Nov. 8, after Mr. Conroy and six friends roamed the streets in search of Mexicans to beat up — a regular pastime that the group called “beaner jumping.”

No one is saying they didn’t do it, but it seems vital to this article’s author that it be known there isn’t a bigoted bone in these boys’ bodies, particularly Jeffrey Conroy, the one who did the stabbing. She lists non-white friends and family members of the young man, sounding a lot like the “I have a black friend!” defense. A relative is quoted as saying, “There is no prejudice in my family.” Jeffrey Conroy is even nice to his own half-brother, who is part Puerto-Rican! He plays Lacrosse! He wrestles! He gets along with his parents! He is “warm and patient with younger boys…”! He is “tall and muscular with a chiseled face and buzz cut…”!

WTF!

Therefore the decision to “go find some Mexicans” is totally not based on racial hatred? How can it be interpreted in any other way? Especially considering that Mr. Lucero wasn’t even Mexican, he just looked Hispanic to his killers, and that was enough. All he did was look Hispanic in the wrong place and the wrong time to earn his death. How is that not racial?

A more appropriate NYT article from the same day as Barnard’s quotes fellow “bean-jumper” Jose Pacheco:

Mr. Pacheco later told the police, “I don’t go out and do this very often, maybe once a week,”

Aaahhh! So why is Barnard trying to paint these people as All-American Boys? It’s not like we’re not sure if they did it or not. That’s settled. How is their wrestling status at all related? This seems like a classic “boys will be boys” pass. Conroy is handsome, white, athletic, and well-liked. Therefore, let’s go easy on him, folks?

What about Marcelo Lucero? Uh, wasn’t he just as much a human being?

Bleh. Check out the Unapologetic Mexican’s post on this crime, Anti-Migrant Democrats Aiding Wave of Hate Crimes.

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Boys Will Be Boys Will Be… Killers?

  1. Stuff like this happens a lot when dealing with privileged groups. You see it frequently in defense of rapists, that they aren’t really “like that” and that they just made a “stupid mistake.”

    With something like this, there is almost a kneejerk reaction to defend ones own race/gender/class/ etc so that the discussion can stay about the privileged people, then we don’t have to talk about systemic oppression, or cultures that encourage these actions.

    If every rapist just made a “stupid mistake” and every person who commits a hate crime “isn’t really like that” then we can pretend like these are isolated cases instead of symptoms of a wider sickness.

    (lovin’ the blog btw!)

  2. In mundane situations, you know what my fave defense of the indefensible is? “He’s really a great/nice guy, but…” Just think about it for a minute. I’m betting that every time you’ve heard this phrase, it is followed by something utterly inexcusable, that more than negates the “He’s really a great guy” part of the sentence.

    Like somehow a person’s [totally shitty] actions don’t give you any clues to who they really are. Instead, it’s some third person’s endorsement that we should use when forming an opinion about the specimen under discussion.

    This particular sentence structure seems to crop up most when defending horrible male chauvinist actions.

    But in this discussion of Jeffrey Conroy & friends, I sensed that their community was crying out a huge collective “THEY’RE ACTUALLY NICE GUYS, IT’S JUST THAT…”

  3. these kids deserve to stay in jail forever they left marcelo to die none of them deserve bail this is a justice thing not money how would you people like that if it was your brother these kids ruin the town of patchogue they need to stay in jail and play with bubba bubba will take care of them.

  4. I agree! These “kids” do need to be punished to the fullest extent of the law for this murder. The punishment should not be less because they are good looking jocks.

    BTW, I like your blog! I mentioned it in the comments on my blog today.

  5. This is incredible ! … Two Latinos have been brutally killed in New York City in less than a month :

    Jose Sucuzhanay and Marcelo Lucero in Long Island, New York City.

    Add these to the brutal beating and kicking that took the life of Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah Pennsylvania last July.

    These Brutal Murders are repugnant. The special Cruelty, Sadism and Inhumanity. The victims were all hard working, peaceful, honest and nice people.

    I would consider all these attackers as perfect Terrorists and Cowards.

    I have a blog to denounce Racial Murders and Racial Hatred. And to profile the good things of the Victims and their Poor families :

    Raciality.com

    Vicente Duque

  6. FYI:
    See this followup story on how the Lucero case was only one of a series of attacks that Latinos say they experienced at the hands of gangs of mostly white teenagers in Patchogue. See also the web-only supplement detailing all the alleged cases we found in a month of reporting.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/09/nyregion/09patchogue.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/09/nyregion/09patchoguesidebar.html?ref=nyregion

    BTW, the earlier Conroy story you reference should be viewed in the context of the NYT’s extensive coverage of Lucero, his funeral, the reaction to his death etc. I was given the narrow assignment of writing a profile of Conroy, but other stories explored many other aspects of the case and of Marcelo Lucero. The quotes about Conroy having friends of all races were from his supporters — not the opinion of the NYT. We also quoted Fernando Mateo making the point you raise — that whoever his friends were, his alleged behavior is that he beat up people because of their race. Some other contextualizing quotes about how people with diverse friends could still commit racist acts were unfortunately cut for space.

    In any case, glad you are following this issue.

  7. @Ann:

    Thanks for commenting and providing more information. The context you mention helps me understand your article better. When I first read it, I didn’t understand why you were focusing so much on Mr. Conroy.

    The tone of the article and the quotes presented continue to have a “But he was a wholesome all-American boy!” kind of feel for me. After a member of a community commits an unspeakable crime, their communities often claim that he was a “nice guy” and they had “no idea.” But really, all the signs are usually there, we just choose to look past them when their implications are unpleasant, or when we are defending “one of our own.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s