The murder of José Sucuzhañay, an Ecuadorean immigrant who died over the weekend at a hospital in Queens, has thrown a harsh light onto a savage, hate-inspired crime that should sicken us all. This horror is also a reminder that bigotry can be deadly, not just to the groups intentionally targeted, but to anyone unfortunate enough to cross its path.
José and his brother Romel appear to have been misidentified as gay as they walked home, arms around each other, on a predawn morning in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. Romel managed to escape the three men who emerged from a passing car wielding a baseball bat and shouting anti-gay and anti-Latino epithets.
José was struck on the head with a bottle, then kicked and beaten into unconsciousness. He was subsequently declared brain dead and expired last Friday night, one day before his mother, who was traveling from Ecuador, could reach him.
The victim, who had come to this country a decade ago, had been living the immigrant dream. Starting out as a waiter, he eventually bought several buildings and became co-owner of a real estate agency in Bushwick. He cared for his community and was well-liked in return.
This was the second recent killing of an Ecuadorean in the New York area. In November, Marcelo Lucero was stabbed and beaten in the Long Island village of Patchogue by a group of teenagers who, the police say, had been roaming the streets looking to beat up “a Mexican.”
Several teenagers have been arrested and charged in the Long Island case. But New York City police, who are still searching for Mr. Sucuzhañay’s killers, need to do all they can to bring those people to justice. A lynching in the heart of New York City is more than enough to remind us that bigotry cannot be tolerated.
* EDITORIAL , NYT,17 December 2008