Arielle Garcia, friend of Luis Ramirez. She witnessed the beating.
Luis Ramirez, a twenty-five-year-old Mexican immigrant, was beaten to death last week by a group of teenagers in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. He was walking home last Saturday night when six white high school students brutally beat him while yelling racial slurs. Despite eyewitness testimony, no charges have been filed. We speak with Arielle Garcia, a friend of Ramirez who witnessed the attack. [includes rush transcript]
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Shenandoah Valley in Pennsylvania. Luis Ramirez was a twenty-five-year-old Mexican immigrant who was beaten to death last week by a group of teenagers in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. He was walking home last Saturday night when six white high school students brutally beat him while yelling racial slurs. When one of Ramirez’s friends tried to stop the beating, one of the teenagers said, “Tell your Mexican friends to get out of town, or you’ll be laying next to him.” Despite eyewitness testimony, no charges have been filed as yet.
Ramirez came to the United States six years ago. He was the father of two children. He was engaged to Crystal Dillman, who grew up in Shenandoah.
We called the district attorney investigating the case, but he declined to join us on the program and said he had no comment.
I’m joined right now by Arielle Garcia, a friend of the couple who was an eyewitness to the attack on Luis Ramirez. She’s a high school senior in Shenandoah. We welcome you, Arielle, to Democracy Now!
ARIELLE GARCIA: Hi. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. How old are you?
ARIELLE GARCIA: I’m seventeen.
AMY GOODMAN: And what year are you in high school?
ARIELLE GARCIA: I’m a senior.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us what happened, not this past Monday night, but the Monday before that? What happened to Luis Ramirez? Where were you?
ARIELLE GARCIA: He was at our house all day that afternoon. And it was around maybe 11:00, he asked us to take him uptown to drop him off, whatever, he was going to go home. So, we leave him at the Vine Street Park, and we drive away, Victor and I, and about two minutes later he called us and told us to come back, that people were beating him up. So we get back as fast as we could. And when we get there, he was — like the fight was over, like the boys were walking away, but they were still screaming like racial slurs, like "Go back to Mexico!"
And so, Victor and I ran up to Luis, and we said, “What happened?” But he was so mad, he wasn’t really talking to us. And those kids kept yelling stuff, and he went back, and the kids turned around, and the fight started again. So Victor, my husband, tried to like stop the fight. He tried to get the kids off of Luis, but kids were trying to fight my husband. So my husband got the kids off of him, and we couldn’t stop the fight between Luis and the — but next thing we know, Luis was on the floor. And so, me and Victor, we ran up to his side, and we were at his side. We were trying to wake him up, and the kids are still like kicking him and kicking him. And somebody — I don’t know who, but they kicked him like in the left side of his head so hard that that’s what killed him.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, where were you and your husband exactly as this part of the fight took place?
ARIELLE GARCIA: We were right by him on the floor. We were like kneeling by his side, trying to wake him up when they kicked him.
AMY GOODMAN: Did you know his attackers?
ARIELLE GARCIA: Yes, they’re in my class.
AMY GOODMAN: How many were there?
ARIELLE GARCIA: Six or seven.
AMY GOODMAN: You knew all of them?
ARIELLE GARCIA: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you name them?
ARIELLE GARCIA: I don’t think I’m allowed to name them. I’m sorry.
AMY GOODMAN: Did you tell the police who they were?
ARIELLE GARCIA: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: And what did the police say? Did the police show up that night?
ARIELLE GARCIA: Yeah, they showed up. First, the ambulance did, and they took our friend to the hospital. And about five minutes later, the police came, and I guess they were looking — I mean, we kept telling them where the kids ran, but they didn’t — they didn’t run towards there. I mean, they kind of stayed where it all happened. And I told them the names and everything.
AMY GOODMAN: And, well, this was more than a week ago. Have they been investigating since?
ARIELLE GARCIA: Yeah. And like, still nothing.
AMY GOODMAN: Why did they say — when you showed them the direction that the kids had run, why did they not go after them at the time?
ARIELLE GARCIA: I don’t know. They told me that it wasn’t their priority right now.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, “their priority”?
ARIELLE GARCIA: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Where was your friend at this point? Where was Luis Ramirez?
ARIELLE GARCIA: He was gone. He was in the — on his way to be [inaudible].
AMY GOODMAN: What was their priority? Did they say that to you?
ARIELLE GARCIA: No. They were pretty rude, some of them. Not all of them, but most of them were pretty rude to me.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean they were rude?
ARIELLE GARCIA: Like, I told them where the kids ran, and they wouldn’t go after them, and they told me that “Somebody said there was someone with a gun here, and we have to search your car.” And they searched Victor, like they put his hand behind his back, and like they put him against —-
AMY GOODMAN: Victor is your husband?
ARIELLE GARCIA: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: The boys ran off. Was it all boys?
ARIELLE GARCIA: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Were they white? Were they Mexican?
ARIELLE GARCIA: Yeah, they were all white.
AMY GOODMAN: All white, and you know them all?
ARIELLE GARCIA: Uh-huh.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you seen them in school? Or school is out, so you haven’t seen them since.
ARIELLE GARCIA: Yeah, no, I haven’t seen them. I mean, we’ve seen one of the kids. He was like playing -—
AMY GOODMAN: If you could talk as loud as you can, Arielle, it’s a little hard to hear you because of the crackling of the phone.
ARIELLE GARCIA: Oh, OK.
AMY GOODMAN: Speak right into the phone.
ARIELLE GARCIA: OK. Yeah, we have seen one of the — like one of the guys recently. We saw him in the backyard of his house playing, as if, you know, like nothing happened. It is frustrating. Our friend is dead and these kids are living life. That kind of frustrates us, because our friend’s dead, and these kids are like living life. It just frustrates me, like they can live without feeling guilty or anything. I just hope that the correct charges are pressed against them.
AMY GOODMAN: Did you speak to any of these kids, since you knew them, in the midst of the fight or afterwards? Did they say anything to you?
ARIELLE GARCIA: Yes. After the fight, I ran after one of them, and I said, “Hey!” I said, “Why did you do this to my friend? You killed him.” And they said — he says, “No, no, I didn’t kill him. He’s still breathing.” And I said, well — and I smelled like — I smelled alcohol, and I said, “Oh, you’re drinking?” And he said, “Yeah.” And he said, “Don’t say our names. I’m out of here.” And he ran.
AMY GOODMAN: He said, “Don’t say our names”?
ARIELLE GARCIA: He said — yeah, he said that.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you know why they attacked Luis?
ARIELLE GARCIA: Do I know? No. I mean, Victor and I weren’t there when it all started. But like I said, when we got there, it was all racial. Everything.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, it was racial?
ARIELLE GARCIA: They were screaming racial, like “Get out of here, Mexican, whatever. Go back to where you came from.” I mean, they were saying bad stuff that I can’t say over the phone.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re showing pictures right now. For our radio listeners, you can go on our website at democracynow.org to see pictures of Crystal, Luis Ramirez’s fiancee, and pictures of Luis, as well, and their children.
So they were shouting racial epithets. They were — what is the atmosphere in Shenandoah? What is the attitude to Mexican immigrants?
ARIELLE GARCIA: I think it’s — most of the time, it’s OK. But there are times when there are racial slurs. I mean, with my husband, I’ve been with him four years, and like, I’m telling you, there are many times that I’ve heard people scream racial slurs to him. You know, like I was pregnant with my son, and they told me, “What’s that in your belly? Another person I’m going to have to pay for? Another Mexican on welfare?” Like stuff like that. It’s disgusting.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you want to see happen in this case? And how is Crystal? How is Crystal Dillman, Luis’s fiancee and mother of his kids?
ARIELLE GARCIA: She’s doing OK, but she’s pretty upset and she’s frustrated that nothing has been done yet. She wants justice for her family. And we do, too. We want justice for our friend. I feel like that wasn’t his time to die. I feel like those kids should be — they should be treated as adults in this case. They should be treated as adults that committed a homicide. I don’t understand why it’s being put off here.
AMY GOODMAN: Luis’s body has been sent back to Mexico?
ARIELLE GARCIA: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: To his family?
ARIELLE GARCIA: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: What has been his family’s reaction? And where does he come from in Mexico?
ARIELLE GARCIA: I don’t know the town. I don’t know. It begins with a “G”. But he — his body was sent back to his mother, and she was — when she found out, she was hysterical. I mean, Crystal told me that she was screaming on the phone, and she didn’t know — she didn’t understand, and she didn’t want to believe it. And he’s arriving there today, actually. He’ll be in Mexico City, and they will be sending him back to where his home city was.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you, Arielle, for joining us. Are you at all afraid of speaking out?
ARIELLE GARCIA: Am I afraid of what?
AMY GOODMAN: Speaking out.
ARIELLE GARCIA: No.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, thank you for joining us. We’ll continue to investigate and follow this case. Arielle Garcia is a friend of Luis Ramirez. She witnessed the beating two Monday nights ago that led to his death. Arielle Garcia knows the people who killed Luis Ramirez. They’re her classmates in high school.
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