Posted by: Ophelia | July 28, 2008


Three white teens were charged Friday in what officials said was an epithet-filled fatal beating of an illegal Mexican immigrant in a small northeast Pennsylvania coal town.

Brandon J. Piekarsky, 16, and Colin J. Walsh, 17, were charged as adults with homicide and ethnic intimidation in the July 12 attack on Luis Ramirez.

A third teen, Derrick M. Donchak, 18, was charged with aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation and other offenses. All are from Shenandoah, where the attack occurred.

Ramirez, 25, was beaten to death after an argument with a group of youths that police said included high school football players

Crystal Dillman, the victim’s 24-year-old fiancee, who is white and grew up in Shenandoah, has said Ramirez was often called derogatory names, including “dirty Mexican,” and told to return to his homeland.

“I plan on moving out of this town as fast as I can. Not because I’m scared. I just don’t want to see my children have to deal with what their father dealt with,” Dillman said.


I do have to ask why the CNN writer felt it necessary to describe Ramirez as an illegal immigrant. Going back to my previous post–specifically about CNN’s habit of sympathizing with particular crime victims, I wonder why he isn’t described as a father. I also wonder why they felt the need to point out that his fiancee was white. In the brief interview with her that they include, she understandably expresses a desire to get the hell out of dodge for the sake of her children. What does her whiteness add to the readers understanding of the incident? What was it meant to add?

*I thought it was interesting that they included a photo of Ramirez in the hospital. Normally, these sort of images are avoided. The tone of the article and the included charges being levied against the teens who are responsible indicates a sympathy for Ramirez that isn’t always present in cases that involve hate crimes.



  1. Another great analysis of how little words can manipulate people’s biases when they read a story. That CNN’s writers immediately call attention to Ramirez’s papers, do refer to him as a father, and make an effort to point-out his fiancee’s whiteness – even in a story that is trying for some decorum – it says a lot about the culture we live in.

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