2008_11_patchogue.jpgBefore the stabbing attack that would claim their final victim, 37-year-old Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero, the Long Island gang known as "The Caucasian Crew" had been out on "beaner jumping" missions for almost a week leading up to it. The Patchogue attacks included knocking one man unconscious after sucker punching him in the mouth and shooting another with a BB gun. Police believe that there are more victims as well who have not come forward out of fears for their safety. Earlier this week, charges against the Caucasian Crew ringleader, Jeffrey Conroy, who is accused of stabbing Lucero were upped from manslaughter to murder.

Those familiar with tensions in Patchogue say that the attacks and the murder go beyond being just racial attacks. The Post describes it as "a volatile mix of anti-immigration fervor, economic unease and an overwhelming flood of newcomers." While Patchogue is a diverse town, many of the children of immigrants do not fully integrate because they are taught in separate English-as-a-second-language classes. One teenager tells the paper, "These guys, these Mexicans, everyone has a hatred for them. Downtown Patchogue used to be nice, and now they make it all dirtbaggish."

But while Ecuadorians in Lucero's hometown of Gualaceo greeted the return of his body in a casket this week holding up signs such as "No to Yankee Racism," some say that we shouldn't lose sight of the just how young the attackers were. Stephen Steinlight, a senior policy analyst with the Center for Immigration Studies said, "It seems to me they were just 'wilding' - like a scene straight out of 'A Clockwork Orange.'"

Photo Courtesy AP/James Carbone