On November 8, 2008, Joselo Lucero’s path in life was forever altered. That is the night his brother Marcelo Lucero, 37, was beaten and murdered by seven teenagers in downtown Patchogue, New York. The story of the crime and the conviction of the defendants brought national attention to the issue of hate crimes and the plight of immigrants on Long Island.
What Joselo took away from the tragedy, and how he has chosen to dedicate his life, were the subjects of a presentation he gave on hate crime prevention and bullying at Stony Brook University on March 5, 2014. The event was sponsored by the Division of Campus Residences, the Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action, and the Latin America Students Organization.
The event was part of a continuing effort to provide educational opportunities for students and the campus at large to discuss issues of diversity and bullying, according to Steven B. Jubert, Jr., Assistant Director for College Housing, Mendelsohn Quad.
“Mr. Lucero’s presence at Stony Brook was very important on many levels,” said Raúl M. Sánchez, Stony Brook University’s Senior Director for Title IX and Risk Management, who also oversees the Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action. “Our students need to know the facts about terrible events that happen in our larger Long Island community, develop opinions about them, and be part of an effort, whether large or small, to ensure they do not continue to happen. One of Mr. Lucero’s key messages was, ‘Be aware and be involved.’”
Joselo, now the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Hagedorn Foundation, opened his presentation with a five-minute film “Not in Our Town: Light in Darkness” about his brother and the circumstances of his murder. Marcelo had been walking home that night when the seven teenagers attacked him, leaving him to die in the street. It was not the first time the group had roamed the streets looking for Hispanic immigrants to attack for sport. According to police, the teens called this “Beaner Hopping.” Joselo and his brother, who had been in this country for more than 16 years, were from Ecuador.
“That night my brother was killed changed my life,” Joselo said. “People told me to take my brother back home, but I chose to stay and fight against discrimination.”
“It’s courageous of him to talk about these issues,” said Stony Brook junior David Lituma, a psychology major, who has family roots in Ecuador.
“Joselo Lucero’s lecture on his story regarding the horrendous hate crime of his brother impacted everyone emotionally in the room and caused a few teary eyes,” said Stony Brook University junior student Ricardo Jean-Pierre, a biology major and a member of the Diversity Peer Education (DPE) program. “More importantly his story solidified what our job as DPE students is — to
fight hate and discrimination on all fronts. For me, it was a vocation manifested.”
While Joselo spoke about the tragic after effects the crime has had on his family, especially his mother, he also spoke with equal compassion about the seven young men now serving lengthy prison terms for the crime.
“All seven of those teenagers (now in their 20’s) are in jail,” he said, “at a time in their life when they should be with their families and going to college.”
Joselo added that by telling his story he hopes to make a young person think twice before committing an act of hate or violence, thus saving victims and the offenders much suffering. He travels to schools throughout Long Island and New York City on behalf of the Hagedorn Foundation to discuss bullying and hate-crime prevention with middle, high school and college students, teachers and administrators. He has been active in community projects to empower youth and instill leadership qualities. Joselo is also involved with Long Island based diversity programs, “Light Through My Eyes” and “Embrace Our Differences.”
“I believe everyone here can take my story home and have a conversation about it,” Joselo said. “I want to change the mentality when people think of immigrants.”
Sánchez, reminded students in the audience that acts of hate don’t just happen to working class immigrants, but can also happen on campus.
“Every time an act of discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual violence occurs, it should be regarded as a hate incident that should be reported for investigation,” Sánchez said.
The lecture was held during Campus Lifetime at the SAC Auditorium and was followed by a Q&A from the audience and a Meet and Greet for Joselo and Stony Brook University Diversity Peer Education students.