During a vigil to remember his brother Marcelo -- the victim of a 2008 hate killing that gripped Suffolk County -- Joselo Lucero told the crowd that the county's decision to dedicate a week to Marcelo's memory will not be a hollow gesture.
Suffolk is in the midst of its first "Understanding, Accepting and Respecting Cultural Differences Week in Remembrance of Marcelo Lucero." The County Legislature in March approved a resolution designating every second week of November in honor of Marcelo Lucero, 37, an immigrant from Ecuador who was stabbed to death just before midnight on Nov. 8, 2008, in a racially motivated killing in Patchogue.
Joselo Lucero said during Sunday's vigil, held at the site of his brother's death, that he will ensure that events highlighting racial diversity, tolerance, anti-bullying strategies and nonviolence are a focal point of his brother's week every year.
"Every year it's going to happen. Different events in schools and in the community," said Lucero, who lives in Bay Shore. "I'm not going to stop hope."
County Legis. Edward Romaine (R-Center Moriches) added that starting next year the county will sponsor public events for Marcelo Lucero's memorial week. This year's events -- including Sunday's vigil, organized by Joselo Lucero and his family -- were organized by private groups.
"We will be planning events to encourage tolerance among the cultures and discourage hate crimes and bullying," Romaine said.
Sunday's vigil began at St. Frances de Sales Roman Catholic Church Parish Center in Patchogue, where representatives from religious organizations preached messages of tolerance and acceptance. The 150 people in attendance then marched a few blocks to the site of Marcelo Lucero's stabbing death, near the Patchogue Long Island Rail Road station.
At the small square where Marcelo Lucero was killed -- renamed Unity Place since his death -- the crowd swelled to about 200.
The Rev. Allan Ramirez, pastor at the Brookville Reformed Church and an advocate for Latinos on Long Island, said at Unity Place that he believes three years of demonstrations on Marcelo Lucero's behalf have drawn attention to the rights of immigrants in Suffolk.
"I have a heartfelt hope that things are about to change," he said.
Jeffrey Conroy of Medford is serving 25 years in prison after being convicted of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime for the killing of Marcelo Lucero. Six other teens also pleaded guilty in the attack.