Guatemalan Félix Valenzuela is still recovering from the brutal beating he received from two young white men a week ago in Brooklyn. It was not a mugging but a deliberate aggression motivated by his immigration status.
The Police classified it as a hate crime and is investigating it as one.
The assault makes us reflect on the work still to be done, not only in educating but in eliminating any roots of hatred and intolerance toward the immigrant community, both in the state and outside.
We cannot let what happened to this worker go when we know that, according to Southern Poverty Law Center reports, New York is in third place on the country’s list of states housing hate groups, with 44.
The message must be loud and clear: There is no room here for this type of racially-motivated aggressions. That is why we support the prompt mobilization of non-profit organizations such as Make The Road and of elected officials in the Williamsburg area to demand justice.
We don’t want to relive past experiences such as the deadly attacks on Marcelo Lucero in Long Island, the Sucuzhañay brothers in Brooklyn, or Luis Ramírez in Pennsylvania.
We need to make sure that their deaths are not in vain and that we have learned a lesson. The immigrant community has forged a space of harmonic coexistence for itself. We all share the same dreams of a better future for our families.
Let’s teach our children that they must respect the others’ space regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation or skin color.
Schools also play a crucial role in this process, especially because of the broad diversity of the students attending our state’s classrooms.
It is true that much has been achieved, but cases like Valenzuela’s – and others that, as we know, are never reported out of fear – should serve as a warning to not let our guard down.