Title VI Civil Rights Complaint Against Suffolk County, NY

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced that they have opened a formal investigation into possible discriminatory policies and practices by the Suffolk County Police Department. The investigation comes after LatinoJustice PRLDEF’s demand that the federal agency look into how the Suffolk Police Department was failing to act and protect Latino residents in the county.

After the senseless attack on Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant who was beaten to death by local youths in Suffolk County, Long Island, LatinoJustice PRLDEF received many reports from Latinos in the area who said they had been victims of crimes that had not been investigated by the police.

The community was living in daily fear that they could be harassed, assaulted and robbed without any recourse as the police would not investigate their complaints.

We launched an investigation and ascertained that many Latinos in Suffolk County who had been attacked and beaten were also afraid to contact the local police for fear of being investigated for their immigration status.

The overwhelming evidence indicated an unchecked wide-spread pattern of racial attacks against Latinos for the past several years.

In November 2008 LatinoJustice PRLDEF submitted an 11-page complaint to the United States Department of Justice, outlining what our attorneys described as a systematic failure by police in Suffolk County to properly investigate and prosecute hate crimes against Latinos.

Our complaint charged that "an epidemic of hate crimes against Latinos had erupted in Suffolk County." Our lawyers subsequently met with DOJ officials in December 2008.

In 2009 the Department of Justice, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District opened a joint inquiry into Suffolk County's handling of Hate Crimes.

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