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Long IslandSuffolk

Timeline of events in the federal hate crime probe

Nov. 8, 2008 Marcelo Lucero, an emigrant from Ecuador, is killed in Patchogue in what Suffolk police label a hate crime. Seven teenagers have been charged in connection with his death and are awaiting trial.

Nov. 20 The Suffolk County district attorney charges the seven teens charged in Lucero's killing with additional hate crime and conspiracy counts for allegedly attacking other Latino victims in Patchogue. Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota says the seven charged in the attack admitted they regularly beat Hispanics for fun. He quotes one defendant's statement to police: "I don't go out doing this very often, maybe once a week."

Nov. 25 LatinoJustice PRLDEF, a Manhattan-based advocacy group, writes a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice's civil rights division claiming that Suffolk police systemically violate the civil rights of Latinos and asking for a formal investigation.

Jan. 12, 2009 The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District confirm they have opened an inquiry into whether to investigate the Suffolk Police Department's and other agencies' handling of alleged hate crimes against Latinos in Suffolk County. The agencies also confirm they are reviewing all cases of alleged hate crimes in Suffolk.

Feb. 23 Suffolk police share their investigations into assaults against Latinos with three federal agencies - the Justice Department's civil rights division, the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District.

May 21 LatinoJustice PRLDEF writes a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, reaffirming its call for an official investigation into the Suffolk Police Department's alleged discriminatory practices and questions why the department has not made additional arrests in its renewed investigation of crimes against Latinos.

May 28 The Suffolk County Police Department confirms it has completed a review of about 50 complaints of crimes against Latinos and doesn't have the evidence to make additional arrests. Police say 15 to 20 of the complaints surfaced after Lucero's death, and 30 to 35 of them had already been reported and were reinvestigated. Police also say an overall review of thousands of incident reports going back more than a year in Latino areas countywide found no pattern of attacks outside of those linked to the seven teens charged in the Lucero killing.

Sept. 2 The Alabama-based civil rights organization the Southern Poverty Law Center releases a scathing report concluding that Latinos in Suffolk are routinely the target of violent attacks and harassment and live in constant fear.


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