Vigil, scholarship honor victim of Patchogue hate crime

Students from the Saxton Middle School in the

Students from the Saxton Middle School in the Patchogue Medford School District sing during a vigil for hate crime slaying victim Marcelo Lucero in Patchogue in November. (Credit: James Carbone)

On the day Patchogue officials re-christened the site of Marcelo Lucero's death as "Unity Place," Joselo Lucero asked a crowd of about 250 people to support a scholarship fund in his brother's name.

Marcelo Lucero, 37, an Ecuadorean immigrant, was stabbed to death just before midnight on Nov. 8, 2008, near the Patchogue Long Island Rail Road station, the same site where Joselo Lucero helped lead a vigil in Marcelo's honor Sunday.

Joselo, of Patchogue, choking back tears as he addressed the crowd, said he wants "my brother's name to stay alive" so that the killing - prosecuted as a hate crime by authorities - can transform from "a tragedy" to "something good."

The scholarship will be administered through Patchogue-Medford High School and be open to community service-minded students, Lucero said. The scholarship fund - for which the Lucero family is soliciting donations through the school - will be open to all students, regardless of race or academic achievement, he said.

"We'll embrace any teenager who likes working in the community," Lucero said, adding that his brother's death was "a tragedy, but at the same time, it brings peace."

A number of public officials, including state Division of Human Rights Commissioner Galen D. Kirkland, addressed the crowd. Residents wore buttons that said "Marcelo Lucero 1971-2008" and wrote testimonials on banners that hung on a nearby wall.

A few feet from a podium, black paint that had been used to cover Marcelo Lucero's blood after the stabbing remained visible.

Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri said it was important to hold the memorial at the site of the killing, and added that the village should "celebrate its diversity" and not allow "the intolerance and bigotry of a few" to hang over the community.

Jeffrey Conroy of Medford, one of seven teens charged in the attack, is serving 25 years in prison after being convicted of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime.

In the crowd, Patchogue resident Sindy Gonzalez, 23, said she came to the vigil to "participate and say that we're still here," and to express that Latino residents "want an opportunity" in Patchogue. She said she believed the response from government and law enforcement to the killings was adequate.

A blood drive in Lucero's honor is scheduled for Patchogue Village Hall at 14 Baker St, from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Monday.

A sign posted in the square that hosted the vigil asked for donations to the Marcelo Lucero Award, Patchogue-Medford High School, 181 Buffalo Ave., Medford 11763.

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