November 2008   

Mobilize Workers Action to Defend Immigrant Workers!

Lynch Mob Murder on Long Island

Hundreds turned out for vigil for Marcelo Lucero (right) in Patchogue, Long Island, November 11.
(Internationalist photo, Daily News)

Just before midnight Saturday, November 8, an Ecuadorian immigrant worker, 37-year-old Marcelo Lucero was brutally beaten and then stabbed to death by a lynch mob of drunken teenagers in Patchogue, Long Island. This is not an isolated incident but part of a pattern of racist violence against immigrants on the island, and in Suffolk County in particular where the county executive has made immigrant-bashing his election trademark and police regularly harass Latino residents. It is the latest of a number of deadly anti-immigrant attacks, including another lynch mob murder in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania last July. It took place as the federal government is intensifying the deportation raids by its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) cops across the country. And it came only days after the election of Barack Obama, the first black president in the history of the United States. The racists are in a frenzy. It is up to the workers movement and all defenders of immigrant and minority rights to stop them in their tracks.

The vile crime in Long Island was committed by a racist gang who had started several brawls with immigrant students in the local high school, and who would get liquored up to go out “beaner jumping” – to beat up Latinos they encountered on the street. The night of the murder, the racists were driving around town looking to “f--k up some Mexicans,” according to one of them. First they encountered a Colombian waiter, 55-year-old Hector Sierra, punching and chasing him until he started banging on a door so loudly screaming for help that the thugs left. A few minutes later they found Marcelo Lucero and a friend near the Long Island Railroad station, surrounded them and started beating. The friend managed to get away and called the police. Marcelo did not. He was stabbed in the chest with a knife by the gang’s ringleader, Jeffrey Conroy, a white supremacist who has a swastika tattooed on his thigh. Conroy was at the center of the series of racist brawls that caused the Patchogue-Medford High School to be locked down.

This is a clear-cut case of a racist mob led by a Nazi: they were identified by Lucero’s friend and police quickly located and arrested the group. The murder weapon was found and Conroy admits the stabbing. Yet the fascist killer has only been charged with first degree manslaughter as a hate crime and first degree gang assault in what was clearly a case of murder. Moreover, the racist thugs’ attacks on Latino immigrants were widely known and tolerated by the community and police. This is no accident, as Suffolk County is where in the town of Farmingville in 2001 two Mexican day laborers were nearly beaten to death and in 2003 a Mexican family’s house was burned down. A local nativist anti-immigrant group calling itself Sachem Quality of Life has invited outside racist groups to spew their hate propaganda on Long Island. And Suffolk County executive Steve Levy has launched sting operations against contractors who hire immigrant day laborers, while trying to get the police to arrest undocumented workers on immigration charges.

The lynchers arrested, 10 November 2008. Mob leader Jeffrey Conroy at right. (Photo: James Carbone/Newsday)

While in this rare case the murderers were quickly caught and Levy issued a pro forma condemnation, police and local authorities from Long Island, New York to San Diego, California are at the forefront of the racist attacks. In Arizona, the sheriff of Maricopa County (which includes Phoenix), Joseph Arpaio, has set up private posses including members of the fascist Minuteman squad to hunt down “illegal” immigrants. In turn, these racist immigrant catchers, reminiscent of the slave catchers who tracked down escaped blacks in the pre-Civil War era, take their cue from the hated migra. The notorious ICE immigration police carry out their dawn raids on factories and immigrant neighborhoods with armies of black-uniformed riot cops reminiscent of the Gestapo who rounded up Jews and Communists in Nazi Germany. Fascist murderer Conroy and his cohorts did not act alone. They were egged on by the bourgeois politicos and police who have made immigrants the “enemy within” in their “global war on terror.”

Appealing to the authorities will not stop the wave of racist attacks, for the courts, cops and capitalist politicians are masterminding the criminal war on immigrant workers, documented and undocumented alike. To combat the racist attacks it is necessary to organize mass mobilization led by the multiracial, integrated workers movement, which has the power to stop the raids and to teach the racists a lesson they will never forget. On May 1, 2006 more than a million immigrants stopped work and went into the streets to demand their rights. But since then, demonstrations for immigrants’ rights have been far smaller. Why? The huge 2006 marches were fueled by fear of a bill, HR 4437, calling for mass deportations, and by hope in immigration reform, particularly from the Democrats. But a bipartisan “reform” bill (which would have legalized indentured servitude) coauthored by liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy and conservative Republican John McCain died in conference after being passed by the Senate. In the recent election campaign, both McCain and Democratic candidate Barack Obama called for enforcing laws calling for deportation of undocumented immigrants.

Currently a number of bourgeois immigration reform groups are calling to lobby Congress starting the day after Barack’s inauguration. They are fostering the illusion that the African American Democratic president will somehow provide immigrants with a “path to citizenship.” The New York Times (11 November) editorializes about how “Republican politicians decided a few years ago to exploit immigration as a wedge issue,” yet they neglect to mention that Stephen Levy who wants to turn Suffolk County into a hell for immigrants is a Democrat. While George Bush and his Republican administration have justly earned the hatred of millions of Latino voters and immigrants who are denied the right to vote, the fact is that both of the partner parties of American capitalism are in a frenzy to “control U.S. borders” as they carry out their “preventive war” from Afghanistan and Iraq to the Philippines and Colombia whose aim is to get the world to bow down to the dictates from Washington.

The Internationalist Group, section of the League for the Fourth International, calls to break from the Democrats, Republicans and all capitalist parties and begin the construction of a revolutionary workers party, which as in the French Revolution of 1789, the Paris Commune of 1871 and the Russian October Revolution of 1917 will establish full citizenship rights for all immigrants, by overthrowing the capitalist slave drivers who seek to prolong their exploitation by setting one group of workers against another.

Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants!

We print below the remarks by a spokesman for the Internationalist Group at the October 12 immigrants rights march in Queens, New York:

There are more than 15 million undocumented workers in this country. They do not receive unemployment insurance, they do not receive welfare, they do not receive health benefits. They are here because the capitalist economy requires their labor. And now that the U.S. economy has entered into a financial crisis, there will be increased demands that they be expelled from this country, that there be mass deportations.

And we are here to say that these deportations must not happen and that we need to mobilize the power of the working class to stop them. The rulers in Washington will not stop these raids. If Obama is elected on November 4 it will not stop the raids. If McCain is elected on November 4 it will not stop the raids. They are capitalist politicians. They are imperialist politicians. They are waging a war, an imperialist war, in the Near East, and they want an enemy within.

In the Second World War, the enemy within was the Japanese, and they locked them up in concentration camps. In this war, the enemy within is immigrants. They started with the Arab immigrants. They arrested thousands of immigrants from South Asia, because maybe they looked like Arabs. Now they are arresting and throwing into concentration camps again tens of thousands of immigrants from all over the world. And those immigrants are here because they were forced here by the economic crisis that was brought upon them by imperialism.

In Mexico, millions of peasants have been thrown out of work inn Oaxaca, in Michoacán, in Guerrero. They were growing corn, but they can’t sell their corn because the cheap corn from the United States undercuts them in the market. So what happens: they get driven off of their land, and they get driven to the north. And today many of those peasants who have been forced out of their lands by cheap corn from Iowa are now working in the meatpacking plants in Iowa where they are subject to brutal conditions of exploitation.

We say it’s necessary to mobilize the working class in action to stop the raids. We say that everybody who is here has a right to stay here with the same rights as everybody else. That is why we demand full citizenship rights for everyone, for all immigrants here in the United States.

And we say as well that it is necessary to stop this war by the action of the working class in this country. On May Day, May first of this year, the dockworkers on the West Coast, the port workers, shut down every port on the West Coast for one day in a strike against the war – against the war in Iraq, and against the war in Afghanistan, and demanding that U.S. troops be withdrawn from throughout the Near East. That is a small example of the kind of power that we need to use. And we can use that, we can stop this war. If they try raids here in New York City it is entirely possible that the working class here can stop those raids by going into the streets and blocking them: not by begging Congress, but by insisting that we demand the rights of citizenship.

Down with the Democrats and Republicans –
Capitalist Parties of War and Racist Repression
Forge a Revolutionary Workers Party!

To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International, send e-mail to: internationalistgroup@msn.com