Matt Crosson, the now-dead director of the Long Island Association was on a panel a decade ago discussing the climate of hatred against immigrants that fostered the murder of Marcelo Lucero across from the Patchogue train station in 2008. Panelist after panelist had denounced the “voices of hatred” in the community and had said that the “good people” of Long Island disagreed with the bigots. Matt asked, if there were so many good people, why had they not spoken up?
Marcelo was a man I never knew. I know his brother Joselo. I have met his now-dead mother and his sister, but Marcelo is a man in a photograph for me.
I went to the Patchogue train station the day after he died. I saw the stains from his blood on the streets, but the living man I never saw in life. When he was killed, I heard some Long islanders say “Those kids went too far,” as though a little bit of violence against immigrants should have been enough.
Our lives were changed when Marcelo’s life was ended. The silence of his grave in his homeland is matched by the muffling of the most extreme voices in Suffolk politics. But the puny Steve Levy has been replaced by MAGA-sized Donald Trump astride the world, rallying by the millions the same sorts of people Levy riled up by the dozens. The lessons were learned in 2008 seem to have never been learned by many of our fellow countrymen.
The white nationalist symbols tattooed on the teenaged killer Jeff Conroy seemed strange and exotic back in 2008. Now they are retweeted by the president.