By Stephen Millies

While immigrants and their supporters celebrated May Day elsewhere in the U.S., an all-white jury in Pottsville, Pa., approved the lynching of Luis Ramirez.

A gang of drunken white thugs shouting racist slurs attacked Ramirez in nearby Shenandoah last July 12. Foam ran from his mouth when Ramirez was found convulsing in the street.

The 25-year-old immigrant worker and father of three children was taken off life support two days later. His body was flown back to his mother in Guanajuato, Mexico.

Ramirez was beaten so severely that a bruised impression of Jesus from the medallion he wore was imbedded on his chest. Brains oozed from his skull.

Yet on May 1 the Schuylkill County jury found Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak guilty of only simple assault. Piekarsky was acquitted of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation, while Donchak was acquitted of aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation.

Jurors ignored the testimony of another attacker, Colin Walsh, who implicated Piekarsky and Donchak. Walsh pleaded guilty to federal charges of violating the civil rights of Ramirez.

Ramirez was lynched, like James Byrd Jr., a Black man who was dragged to death in Jasper, Texas, by white racists in 1998. Or Matthew Shepard, a gay man who was also tortured to death the same year by bigots outside Laramie, Wyo.

Back in 1955, another all-white jury in Mississippi acquitted the murderers who mutilated the 14-year-old Black youth Emmett Till. A judge in Queens, N.Y., recently let the police killers go free who fired 50 shots at Sean Bell, killing him on his wedding day.

Before he was killed, Ramirez was working two jobs to support his children, Angelina, Eduardo and Kiara. “He worked hard so his kids would have more than he had growing up,” his widow, Crystal Dillman, said. “I just don’t understand how you can beat someone so badly when you don’t even know them.” (CNN, July 31.)

Radio hate-mongers like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage don’t know any of the immigrants whom they demonize. The immigrants working in the fields and packing plants put food on their tables.

Fifteen miles from where Ramirez was lynched, Hazelton Mayor Lou Barletta pushed through a vicious law in 2008 that prohibited renting to undocumented workers. Although a federal judge threw out this ordinance in 2009, it inflamed the hate that killed Luis Ramirez.

Tens of thousands once worked in the anthracite coalmines in the region. Some 51,483 Pennsylvania miners were killed in mining accidents since 1870. Many of the mine owners’ “Main Line” mansions outside Philadelphia were built with the blood of these miners.

Anthracite coalmines have been closing for generations. As the economy declined, the wealthy promoted racism to divide workers.

By 1997 five state prisons were in the former mining counties of Luzerne, Northumberland and Schuylkill. Sometimes the only jobs available to descendants of miners are those of prison guards. There, they are in a hostile situation to inmates, whom they often brutalize. The inmates are overwhelmingly Black and Latina/o.

Despite bigots like Hazelton Mayor Barletta, many area residents expressed dismay at the brutal death of Ramirez. They need support from progressives around the country to oppose the racists.