Philadelphia, PA, July 29, 2008 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) joined the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and other minority groups at a vigil expressing condolences for the killing of Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala, an undocumented Mexican immigrant of Shenandoah, PA who was fatally beaten at the hands of up to five white teenagers.
ADL also reached out to Shenandoah Mayor Thomas O'Neill, urging him to bring together key community leaders to address growing tensions in the community in the aftermath of this brutal incident. The League offered concrete steps and recommendations to ease tensions and encourage the implementation of a No Place for Hate® program at the meeting convened by the Mayor, which included the Borough Manager, the Superintendent of Schools, City Council President, representatives from the District Attorney and Sheriff's offices, religious and business leaders, members of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and local Latino representatives.
At the vigil, ADL Eastern Pennsylvania/Delaware Regional Board Chair Arnold Delin made the following statement:
"We are here to encourage Shenandoah to use this horrible incident as an occasion to become stronger and to come together as a community… There is much to learn from this event, and Shenandoah can transform this experience into one that is strengthening and unifying… This is a chance for Shenandoah to define itself as a place where all people, of all backgrounds, are welcomed, and a place where each resident is treated with the utmost dignity and respect.
"To that end, ADL urges Shenandoah to take the following steps:
* Form an advisory committee comprised of elected officials, school administrators, law enforcement, and community, corporate, and religious leaders which can foster communication within the community and provide a voice for all people, particularly minorities.
Introduce regular community forums in which all residents can express their needs and concerns, as well as celebrate their accomplishments.
* Implement ongoing activities and programs, such as ADL's No Place for Hate® program, particularly in schools, which are perhaps in the strongest position to influence our youth.
"ADL offers its continued support and assistance to Shenandoah in taking these steps and in charting a course that ensures this community is not only a source of pride for residents, but an example for communities across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
"The best way to respect and honor the memory of Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala is by seeing to it that Shenandoah takes an aggressive, sustained approach to meeting the challenges of prejudice and the opportunities represented by diversity.
"...We express our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Mr. Ramirez and our sorrow at the loss of an innocent life. We appreciate and applaud those of you who are here today and are committed to take constructive action. We pledge to help guide and support you in any way that we can to make Shenandoah a welcoming and inclusive environment for all."
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.