Elected officials and community
leaders demand justice for Jose Sucuzhanay.
and social justice organizations from across the city held a rally and vigil in
Bushwick, Brooklyn, on Sunday Dec. 14, in
response to the beating death of Ecuadorian business owner Jose Sucuzhanay, 31.
Police are treating the attack as a hate crime.
before, Jose and his brother Romel, 38, were walking home arm-in-arm from a
Bushwick bar in the early hours of Dec. 7. As they passed the intersection of Bushwick Avenue and
three men jumped out of an SUV. Incorrectly perceiving the two brothers as gay,
the men began shouting anti-gay and anti-Hispanic slurs. One of the attackers
broke a bottle over Jose’s head, and then kicked and beat him with an aluminum
baseball bat. He died on Friday, Dec. 12.
hundred protestors attended the rally and vigil, organized by nonprofit
community group Make the Road New York and LGBT hate crime group New York
City Anti-Violence Project. The event was held at Make the Road NY’s Community Park
in Bushwick. A number of elected officials and local leaders also denounced
homophobia and racism and asked the community to take a stand against hate-based
Council members and five to six television news crews arrived, many in the
crowd held up signs reading "Bushwick es una zona libre de odio!" [Bushwick is
a hate-free zone!] and "We are all immigrants." Protestors chanted "Justicia
ahora!" [Justice now!] in English and Spanish.
Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of Make the Road NY, called for Latinos, immigrants,
and African-Americans to join city and state leaders as a "new force to create
possibility and change in our communities and city," as shouts of "Si se
puede!" [Yes we can!] rose from the crowd. Archila then introduced speakers including
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn,
Congressman Anthony Weiner, Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes and
State Sen. Tom Duane.
Lesbians of Bushwick Empowered (GLOBE) and leaders from the Ecuadorian
community also spoke, including the brother of Marcelo Luceroanother
Ecuadorian man murdered in a bias attack in Patchogue, Long
Island, on Nov. 8.
in solidarity with the Sucuzhanay family, and I am certain that whoever
committed these crimes must and will be apprehended and prosecuted to the
fullest extent of the law," said Speaker Quinn. "This crime is not just an
attack against one person or one community, but an unconscionable act on all
New Yorkers. We will continue to stand against crimes of hate in our city and
the destruction that comes along with it."
Duane recounted a shocking personal experience: several years ago, upon leaving
a gay bar on Long Island, he was severely
beaten by a group of men. He reported the crime to the authorities, but no
arrests were ever made. As a result, he said, he helped pass the state’s Hate
Crimes Protection Act to ensure that "everyone will be safe in their own
neighborhoods, and will not fear getting beaten or killed."
pleading for peace and justice, some speakers reserved choice words for the
alleged perpetrators of the attack. Congressman Weiner called them "cowardly
cockroaches hiding under a rock," while District Attorney Hynes vowed to
"vigorously prosecute these despicable crimes" and spoke directly to the
"murderous thugs," passionately declaring, "you’re going to get caught, you’ll
go to jail for the rest of your lives, and the only way you’ll get out of
prison is in a box."
made no arrests by the time of the rally and vigil on Sunday, but described the
attackers as black men. They released a sketch of one of the suspects, who is 6
feet tall, 18 to 20 years old, with a thin build, wearing a black leather
jacket, jeans, boots and a baseball cap. Witnesses did not see the license
plate of the SUV.