Bushwick Rallies Against Hate Crimes
Photos by Julie Bolcer
In response to last weekend's brutal anti-gay, anti-Latino hate attack in Bushwick that left one dead, hundreds of New Yorkers -- including city council speaker Christine Quinn, Brooklyn D.A. Joe Hynes, congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, and many other local politicians -- gathered on Sunday to mourn area victims of recent bias crimes and to call for justice.
"These attacks represent the worst kind of violence, the worst form of hatred, the worst form of bias that we have seen in recent years," said Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, which helped organize the event. "But they are not disconnected."
In the latest incident, Jose Sucuzhanay, a 31-year-old Ecuadorean immigrant, real estate agency owner and father of two, died on Friday night as the result of injuries he sustained in an early morning attack on Sunday, December 7.
According to official accounts, Sucuzhanay and his brother Romel were walking arm-in-arm around 3:30 a.m. near their home on Bushwick Avenue and Kossuth Place when three men jumped from an SUV. Yelling anti-gay and anti-Hispanic slurs, the assailants broke a bottle over Jose's head and beat him with a baseball bat until Romel, who was not seriously harmed, could threaten to call the police.
The savage attack follows last month's fatal stabbing of another Ecuadorean immigrant, Marcello Lucero, in Patchogue on Long Island. Seven teens have been arrested and charged in that crime.
Lucero's brother Joselo addressed the crowd on Sunday.
"I have another hurt in my hurt right now to see this happen again," he said.
Nydia Velazquez blamed the crimes on the "culture of intolerance" and the flawed national immigration system.
"It is this broken system that leads people to blame others for the inaction of our own federal government," she said.
Christine Quinn connected the motives between anti-gay and anti-Latino violence.
"They wanted us to respond to their hatred by becoming afraid," she said. "They want us to stay in our homes, to go back into the closets, to stop immigrating to this country."
Joe Hynes issued a warning to the "four murderous thugs" who remain at large in the Sucuzhanay murder.
"You're gonna be caught, you're gonna be convicted, and you're gonna go to jail for the rest of your life," he said. "And the only way you'll every get out of prison is in a box!"
More than a dozen elected officials attended the press conference in the park at Myrtle Avenue and Grove Street beneath the rumbling M train. Joining the outpouring were Congressman Anthony Weiner, City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, State Senator Tom Duane, and City Councilmembers Bill DeBlasio, Eric Gioia, Letitia James, John Liu, Melissa Mark-Viverito Diana Reyna, and David Yassky.
As the crowd of elected officials, advocates and victims' loved ones marched about a mile southwest to Bushwick Avenue and Kossuth Place with an NYPD escort, it chanted, "¿Qué queremos? ¡Justicia! ¿Cuándo? ¡Ahora!"
On Kossuth Place, an altar was created in honor of Sucuzhanay with candles, photos and flowers. Just as darkness fell, someone placed a Gay Pride flag next to the flag of Ecuador.