A pack of teenagers attacked and killed 37-year-old Marcelo Lucero near a Patchogue train station six years ago, and his brother said at a memorial Sunday that the Hispanic and immigrant populations on Long Island still face significant challenges to safety and equality.
Lucero's beating and stabbing in 2008 sparked international attention, a federal investigation and major internal changes for Suffolk County police.
"It has to be done still, a lot of work," Joselo Lucero, 40, said Sunday, after the vigil was held in his brother's honor at a small Patchogue church about 100 feet from the site of the slaying. "It's nothing you can change in five years or two years. . . . It's constantly people getting together and demanding protection and demanding the same treatment for everybody."
The brothers are from Ecuador.
Marcelo Lucero's killer, along with the six others involved in the attack, were prosecuted under hate-crime statutes, and the case is now widely viewed as a turning point in the Suffolk County Police Department's handling of such crimes. It's also a case that brought attention to the relationship between Suffolk police and the Hispanic and immigrant communities.
Suffolk police didn't return calls seeking a comment Sunday.
Joselo Lucero used the annual vigil as an opportunity to call attention to barriers that still exist for immigrants -- particularly citing the many Latin American child refugees who have been turned away from schools across Long Island.
"Every immigrant comes to this country for different ideas or different situations," he said. "My brother's case was economic. . . . But kids that are refugees that have to run for their life, they get here, they think they're going to be protected, which is not happening."
Joselo Lucero also pointed to violence in other parts of the Island -- notably the handling of the Oct. 12 slaying of Maggie Rosales, 18, of Huntington Station -- as evidence that not enough has changed since his brother's death.
"People had to really protest for someone to get arrested," Lucero said. "And we should not have to do that. We deserve to have justice. And we deserve to have the same treatment as anyone."
Yolanda Lederer, 62, of Brentwood, one of about 100 people at the interfaith service at Iglesia Evangélica Refugio de Salvación, said she has attended the vigils each year since Lucero's death. The El Salvador native said she didn't think much progress has been made since the 2008 crime.
"There's a long way to go," she said. "Parents need to talk to their kids about tolerance."
Lucero's death resulted in an unusual level of federal oversight for Suffolk County police, with the U.S. Department of Justice drafting a 27-page agreement.
The Suffolk County Legislature approved the agreement in December 2013, which required training officers on bias issues, tracking of hate crimes and reports on police discrimination.