Bias Murder Revisited

After 11 Years, Hope for Justice in Latino’s Beating Death

"There is a person by that name in the New York City police department," he said. But he stressed that "a preliminary look at the [Mayi] case folder does not indicate that the person named is involved." However, he added, "We'll follow up on the case and see where it leads."

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, whom the Mayis have faulted with a slew of botches including the postponement of over 40 court dates, said he would "again vigorously prosecute" if there were new findings. The family has demanded a special state prosecutor.

Everywhere at Saturday's rally were signs of the changing times, including the politicians who worked the crowd of 150. Along the march route down 108th Street, dozens of Latinos and other immigrants, a testament to the city's shifting demographics, heard and sometimes joined the chorus of "no justicia, no hay paz." More somberly, the protesters' diversity showed how years of bias incidents among city residents and with police have given birth to a growing coalition of racial justice activists. Before marching, Latinos, blacks, Asians, and whites joined hands to pray on the sidewalk where the young Dominican died. A speaker took note of the solidarity: "Manny Mayi's death was not in vain."

But there is one constant to the yearly march, in the diminutive form of Altagracia Mayi. She is a low-wage maintenance worker who learned English to better advocate her son's cause. Her efforts do not win points with all her neighbors. Observing from a distance, a group of self-described "part-Italian" bystanders told the Voice that the Saturday rally was "bullshit" and accused Mayi of stirring racial tensions. "That's not right, what she's doing," said one woman. "It was an unfortunate accident. Kids fight."

But disapproval—or even the death threats she reports receiving—won't stop her, says Mayi. "I'm not scared. Why should I close my mouth? I understand everybody is going to die, but they killed my son because he is a Latino. A lot of Latinos get beaten up, but nobody does anything. You like it or don't like it, I'm going to be here." In a crisp white suit, she led Saturday's procession with a photo of Manuel hanging from a ribbon around her neck. It took marchers 40 minutes to walk the distance he ran for his life.

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