HRC participates in MALDEF hate crimes press conference
May 14, 2009
Earlier this week, HRC President Joe Solmonese participated in a press conference on Capitol Hill supporting the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The event was sponsored by MALDEF (the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund) to call attention to the story of Luis Ramirez who on July 14, 2008, lost his life after he was knocked unconscious and severely beaten by a group of Shenandoah teenagers who who yelled racial epithets throughout the fatal beating. His story was also recently told by Judy Shepard in our recent video calling for passage of the hate crimes bill. Joe's remarks after the jump...
I am honored to stand here today with our coalition partners to call attention to the tragic murder of Luis Ramirez and the importance of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. I particularly want to thank MALDEF for the leadership, not only in calling for a federal investigation of Luis's case, but in calling for justice for every victim of hate violence. Their unwavering support for the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act has been crucial to our efforts to pass this vital legislation. I am privileged to stand in solidarity with them to ask for justice for Luis Ramirez and his family. Sadly, Luis's brutal murder dramatically underscores the need for this legislation. Hate violence in America happens all too frequently - nearly one every hour based on FBI statistics. Yet, state and local authorities too often lack the training or resources to fully investigate and prosecute these crimes. And sometimes, local authorities abdicate their responsibility to ensure that justice is served. Tragic cases like Luis's are far too common in our nation. In South Carolina, a young, gay man named Sean Kennedy was also beaten to death for who he was. His attacker was sentenced to just three years in prison - a sentence that was reduced even further for time served and good behavior. Like Luis, Sean had a family who cared about him; and neither man deserved to have his life cut short because of hate violence. These attacks are vicious and ugly reminders of the need to pass comprehensive federal hate crimes legislation. The heartbreaking stories of Luis and Sean are only two of many told daily around the nation. Violent, bias-motivated crime is blight on our country and must be combated with the full resources of the federal government. The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act will equip state and local law enforcement officials with the tools they need to combat hate violence. And when local authorities fail to act, this bill will allow the federal government to step in and ensure justice prevails. It is time for the Senate, and our nation, to send a message to those who seek intimidate and divide us. Violent, bias-motivated hate will not be tolerated in America. I call upon the Department of Justice to fully investigate the murder of Luis Ramirez. And I urge the Senate to take swift action to pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Because one more day is too long to wait for justice. Thank you.