Cindy Rodriguez is the Urban Policy reporter for New York Public Radio.
New York, NY –
The Department of Justice's criminal civil rights division has opened a formal investigation into hate crimes against Latinos in Suffolk County.
The move comes in response to a public outcry following the stabbing death of Marcelo Lucero. The Ecuadorean immigrant was attacked by a group of teenagers on November 8th.
After the fatal stabbing, Latino Justice, also known as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, sent an 11-page memo to the Justice Department. The memo charged that "an epidemic of hate crimes against Latinos had erupted in Suffolk County," and it accused the Suffolk County police Department of mishandling them.
The DOJ says it's currently reviewing whether to expand its investigation to include local law enforcement. The SCPD says it welcomes any inquiry into incidents, many of which had not been reported until recently. A written statement goes on to say that Suffolks hate crime statistics are essentially the same as neighbouring counties and New York City.