Biopower – The State Killed Luis Ramirez

From the Sanctuary:

Ramirez, a father of three, was beaten to death in the streets of Pennsylvania by as many as seven young men who were at the end of a night of drinking. The motive? Judging by the slurs heaped upon him along with the many blows to his body: apparently nothing more than being out at night while Mexican. The teens who ganged up on Ramirez came upon him walking with a young woman, reportedly his girlfriend’s sister. Obviously bringing threat, they asked him what he was doing out at that time of day. Then they set upon him. In the end it was a final hard kick to the skull which left the 25-year-old father convulsing on the concrete with fatal brain damage.


The murder of Luis Ramirez-like the murders of Marcelo Lucero and Wilter Sanchez and Jose Sucuhañay-are but logical steps in the process of defining a subhuman class of ALIEN and inciting anti-Latino violence, which will continue unless marked changes are made in our society. Changes in the immigration dialogue. Changes in the way pundits frame and discuss the issue. Perhaps even more importantly, changes to the fashion in which both Republicans and Democrats pitch and move legislation. The entire “Enforcement Agenda” that directly links immigration status (and thus all Latinos) to criminality, discussed coolly by seemingly rational voices on both Right and Left, is but the socially and politically acceptable umbrella which shields crimes like the murder of Luis Ramirez. The ubiquitous message resonating from coast to coast of this continent, across which peoples of Latin American descent have been migrating back and forth for thousands of years, is that we are in the crosshairs. And that we deserve to be in those hair-trigger sights.


Though it is necessary and a good thing, it is not enough to pass H.S. 1913, the current Hate Crimes bill that has cleared the Senate and is now headed for the House. Nor is it adequate to simply pass the D.R.E.A.M Act (though, again necessary, so please sign), and/or to legalize the immigrants who are working and raising families in the US, and be done with it. These things must be done, and soon. But we must not rest there.

First, we must demand a satisfactory accounting find its way to this unresolved injustice. (Please sign the petition to add your voice.)

This brings back memories of the Gwen Araujo case here in Fremont, which initially resulted in a ‘mis-trial.’ Four teens raped and killed a transgender teenager and the defence purported that it was a ‘crime of passion,’ arguing that Araujo had led the boys on due to her sexuality and they were enraged upon finding out that she was a ‘man.’ Yes, it was horseshit–much like the murder trial of Luis Ramirez is horseshit.

We can punish these teenagers but it is a bandaid, not a cure. We live in a system that legitimates a culture of violence, especially one directed against fellow human beings who are labelled ‘Others’: gay, undocumented, ethnic minority, and so on. Through biopower–identifying, labelling and reifying the position of people in society on some social hierarchal totem pole and designating ‘them’ as opposed to ‘us’–the state reproduces the otherization of difference, and deems certain people as less worthy, less important. Race, being an undocumented immigrant, a homosexual and whatever subgroup or subclass is not a neutral or naturally occuring phenomena. These are all productive mechanisms of enhancing state power: producing hate and also initiating solutions like ‘hate crimes bills’ for that hate. At the end of the day, it is the state that is responsible for the murder of Luis Ramirez, and the subsequent ineffective prosecution of those that are responsible for this heinous crime.

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