Rallies In Shenandoah, PA – Unity and Anti-“Illegal” Immigrant

On August 30 Voice of the People USA held a rally in Shenandoah, PA taking advantage of the heat created by an undocumented Mexican immigrant’s death by beating. While many abhor this type of act Voice of the People USA decided to exploit it by having a rally in this polarized town. Even though VOPUSA claims they don’t condone the beating death I believe their holding a rally in a town where this happened and giving a microphone to a person who has spent the better part of the last few weeks trying to paint the dead man as a terrible person, essentially condoning his death by beating, speaks volumes. To this woman making Luis Ramirez out to be a person who deserved to die has not only been a mission, but has since become a way to get a good chuckle.  Apparently to VOPUSA justifying the death of Luis Ramirez is a way to “bring this issue to the forefront.”

VOPUSA can say whatever it wants about their “true intentions”, but the truth is when you bring an anti-“illegal” immigrant rally into a town that has some obvious racial issues you’re just promoting this behavior. Their rally was both inappropriate and irresponsible.

Here’s a video from the local news station WFMZ – TV 69 showing a little from both rallies.  Make note of the signs and also note that they failed to show the skinheads at the rally.

In this video VOPUSA’s founder claims:

This is about bringing a community together in the face of adversity.

What? Holding an anti-illegal immigration rally in a town where man was beaten to death because he was Hispanic? How much of a diverse community do you believe will attend when there are signs that read “third world immigrants make third world nations?” That sign is anti-immigrant, not anti-“illegal” immigrant, and speaks against many in this suffering community.

In their guestbook (which I encourage you to visit). VOPUSA members proclaim:

Shenandoah is rocking!!!!! You are probably the BEST crowd I’ve ever seen at a protest!!! Thanks for having us and showing your support .. 600 strong in the crowd!!!! Even with the the traitor’s presence, we had a successful, meaningful rally. God bless every single one of you!

Every-one – and I mean EVERY-ONE (excepting the traitors waving the Mexican flag) – made me so proud. Every-one was splendid!

First off there were not 600 people there. I’ll give you 300, but not 600. I think this group’s math is as faulty as their anti-migrant logic and tactics.

And in being “proud” of those at the rally I guess this includes the skinheads (who were also at the Harrisburg rally) I saw them holding up their “third world immigrants make third world nations” signs. Bravo for your love of white supremacists. I can see in the VOPUSA guestbook that you enjoy their company. I’m sure they’re very proud of you for working so hard to justify the beating death of a Mexican man.   VOPUSA denies they draw white supremacists to their rallies. Are they kidding? It’s one thing to say you don’t support white supremacy and another to flat out deny what’s been documented over and over again. Do you think we don’t know what a white supremacists looks like? Do you think that a man holding a sign with the web address for Storm Front is not a white supremacist? Sorry, but it’s time to take off your “we don’t see any white supremacists” glasses and get a reality check.  And it’s worth mentioning that their Hazleton rally featured a Hispanic citizen being told to get out of the country.

The white supremacist site Storm Front was promoting the rally as being in support of the “whites” who beat Luis to death, but apparently cut.  Apparently someone must have asked them to portray the event differently.

This comment comes straight from the VOPUSA Guestbook in case you’re unclear about white supremacist activity there.

OK – I am assuming every-one has head about Obama’s brother George, and his Grammy and her pet chickens. If not – I’ll forward pics, and stories. Let’s just say that if Onegro is installed in the White House (paint is BLAQUE, M’chelle) – then we’ll all end up like George, or Grammy.

I was proud, as were many others, of the fact that the town’s mayor, Thomas O’Neill, was at the unity festival and not the hate rally being held five minutes away. Bravo mayor for not cowering to the hate mongers who feel that demonizing fellow human beings is a great way to create communities. Thanks for seeing through the insanity that somehow makes these people feel that their work is worthy of God.

Yes, I’m sure God is proud of a group that seeks to turn away people who are looking to survive in a world that’s becoming more top heavy every day. Thankfully there was a group meeting in a church as the same time this anti-migrants rally was occurring. I believe that’s where God was on Saturday – not in some dirt field named after a drunk and filled with white supremacists and folks duped into believing that there cause is simply about the “law”.

The church event was truly a diverse crowd while the rally at Babe Ruth Memorial field was an event for white folks. While I blend in real nice with the white folk I found more comfort with the diversity at the Kahillat Isreal Non-Denominational Christian Church. Here there were people from many nationalities coming together to say “it’s ok to be different” and that people from all walks of life can be a community. We heard the mayor and others speak about coming together.  Musicians also graced us with positive songs and there was food as well.

At the church I felt welcomed and at home while at the anti-migrant rally I felt disgusted. Not only by the stale cigarette filled air, but also because of the ‘cause’ the people where there to follow. The unity rally at the church was meant to bring people together while the anti-migrant, or pro-America as they like to call it, rally is meant to separate.

Details on the groups that came together for the Unity Rally can be found here. Thanks to those that provided a positive message and wonderful song.  That is what brining a community together is all about.  It’s not about bringing more hatred into a town that’s already suffering from what hate has done to a family in their community.

If Voice of the People USA wanted to help this community they should have held an anti-underage drinking event since the teens that beat Luis Ramirez to death were drunk at the time.  I hope one day VOPUSA will wake up and see the hatred they stir.  Maybe this will help them identify the white supremacists in the guestbook and at their rallies.


24 thoughts on “Rallies In Shenandoah, PA – Unity and Anti-“Illegal” Immigrant”

  1. You are comical. The number of the crowd came from the police, who counted 580. Our own people counted more than 600. Our math is just fine, and your own agenda shines through. You simply hate America. You hate the First Amendment, and you hate anyone who disagrees with you. Nice.

  2. It didn’t look like 600 to me, but if you say the police counted 580 what can I say? Your people were definitely not at the gate because as I heard, and as one person in your guestbook wrote, the police were just complaining about having to be there. As I walked in one of the people at the gate said “we should have an anti-rally rally.”

    I like how you gloss over the more pertinent part of what I wrote. While I know not everyone was a white supremacist they were in the crowd and your group is apparently so proud to have them there. You also enjoy taking praise from them in the VOPUSA guestbook. I guess nobody is bad when they’re cheering you on, but when they criticize you they’re anti-American.

    I also like how you say I hate America and the First Amendment. Does exposing hate make me anti-American? Maybe I should spend my time making criminals out of victims. Then I could call myself a patriot. Just because I don’t hang out with white supremacists and call for the ill treatment of people in need does not make me anti-American. As for the first Amendment where do I state you shouldn’t have been able to hold the rally?

    On the way to the rally I saw a truck with the bumper sticker “love it or leave it.” That aggressive this or that statement is not representative of America. We’ve constantly changed unjust laws throughout our history and people have been fighting against human rights abuses as well. So “love it or leave it” is about a dumb a statement as you can make.

    I guess the mayor is anti-American too since he was right there with me at the unity festival. Cresitello learned his lesson after your group came to Morristown and he’s since quieted down on the 287(g) issue. If anything your rally in Morristown was a positive for migrants. Thanks.

  3. I didn’t see this, but what of it? This is welcome at your rallies?

    Some at the rally — which also included one man draped in a Nazi flag — defended the actions of Piekarsky, Walsh and Donchak despite strong statements from Smeriglio and other event organizers decrying violence. Smeriglio had held a moment of silence for Ramirez before he began speaking. (source)

    As for Dillman and the Mexican flag incident I don’t necessarily agree with what she did, but I understand it. To her that was the best way to get the crowd to react which is obviously what she wanted. Let’s face it – her fiancee was kicked to death by white teens and VOPUSA was using the town’s pain and anger to drive the anti-“illegal” immigrant message a little over a month after the incident. If you guys don’t understand how irresponsible and hateful that is that’s just sad. The truth is the boys had no idea he was undocumented they just saw a Hispanic man and in their drunken racist rage went after him.

  4. From the VOPUSA guestbook:

    that american inhumanity loser is at it again.


    I also like how one of the usuals on the VOPUSA guestbook also thought there was less than 600. While I don’t have a problem believing it was 580 at least I wasn’t the only one who didn’t think it was that many. Let’s also not forget about the commenter on the guestbook complaining that people were leaving. I’m sure some were just there to see what all the hubbub was about.

  5. Great job symsess. You know if their ridiculing you and they can’t address the substance of your post that you’re on the right track. Keep exposing this hate for what it is.

  6. First and foremost, I think you are semi-mentally challenged.

    Second, we, the people of the strong little town of Shenandoah asked the VOPUSA to come here to help us organize a protest against something that has been tearing us down.

    Third, this protest had nothing to do with Luis Ramirez. (who by the way was also drunk that night… if you want to talk about drinking) it was about being a law-abiding American and wanting those who aren’t to leave.

    The Ramirez case is a horrible thing, but don’t jump to conclusions by stating some crap about Luis being beat by “drunken racist rage.” Luis was under the influence of DRUGS & ALCOHOL that night, and initiated a fight as well.
    The one good thing that came out of this was that it brought our desperate need for help with illegal immigrants to the forefront. Finally people are talking about and why it is a problem.
    We assembled yesterday to unify Americans who obey the law, not to unite white people. I guess you didn’t see the hispanic teenagers there protesting right alongside of us.
    It is complete morons like yourself that have played the race card and made us all out to be “hate mongers.” Why do you continue to abuse me because I love my country and want to keep defending it?
    Right away because there happen to be a few guys with shaved heads standing at the protest, you assume they are “skinheads” and other hate groups. I happen to KNOW for a FACT that a few of those guys are prison guards and shave their heads because it is easier to keep it bald than keep up with strict codes for appearance which include hair length. Way to profile!
    They are not racists, they just love the law and those who obey it.
    As for the comments being yelled out, and the ONE guy with a Nazi flag (which I actually didn’t see & I was there!!!), please tell me how you can defend Crystal Dillman and her little sister and thier friend (who are all white…. they must be racists) for marching in with a Mexican flag because you know what they are going through, but you condemn the people of Shenandoah for comments?? Do you NOT understand what they are going through??? Three people that they love are being targeted by folks like yourself and other media monsters and will now never have a life like they may have before that night. Although it was a horrible thing to happen, please don’t act like Crystal Dillman is the only one hurting.
    BTW… The unity rally was populated with 50 people, more than three quarters were from outside of Shenandoah. The anti-illegal immigration rally had 580 people or more there and I knew almost every single one because they live in this town. Now continue to tell me what it is that the people of this town need right now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Thanks for posting this. I was getting tired of hearing about the happenings in Shenandoah through Wendi M. at PA Pundits.

    With her being the first to post here to say that her math is just fine, it’s understandable now why she accepts her flawed, inflated inaccurate stats on “illegal alien criminals” at face value. She’s also quick to say that she’s not a racist, even in the absence of being accused as one!

  8. Rosie,

    Not sure why you want to call me “mentally challenged”, but most normal folk would see that as a dumb attack. I don’t think that’s something they teach you in debate class.

    There is no assumptions about who is and who isn’t a skinhead. Not everyone there was a skinhead, but I know who is and isn’t a skinhead.

    We assembled yesterday to unify Americans who obey the law, not to unite white people. I guess you didn’t see the hispanic teenagers there protesting right alongside of us.

    Actually I didn’t see them. If you wanted to unite people under the idea that we should all obey the law then why is it only now, four weeks after an undocumented migrant is beaten to death, that you had the rally? This is not about following the laws and it’s not pro-America. Advocating for people that the United States has caused poverty for in other countries does not make one anti-American. What other laws did you talk about at the rally aside from illegal immigration? Did you talk about underage drinking? I doubt it.

    They are not racists, they just love the law and those who obey it.

    The law is not a lover. The law is something that is often modified and changed as it has been throughout history. I suppose we should have never changed any laws since the beginning of this country? The idea that one could be an illegal alien was only constructed in the late 1800’s.

    Three teens murder a man and you want me to sympathize with what their familes are going through? Maybe their parents shouldn’t have raised monsters who think it’s ok to go beating on people. Is it pro-American to pick fights and gang up on people? Anyone who gangs up to beat others is a sick, sick individual and they don’t get my sympathy for their acts. This pertains to everyone. However, I do hope they atone for their acts and seek help with controlling their anger so they can be productive, non-violent, citizens in the future.

    please tell me how you can defend Crystal Dillman and her little sister and thier friend (who are all white…. they must be racists) for marching in with a Mexican flag

    What’s racist about marching with a Mexican flag? Maybe I’m missing something. Crystal was apparently trying to piss off the crowd because it was full of people who think what those three white teens did was ok. Regardless the Mexican flag does not have any connotation anywhere near that of the Nazi flag.

    The unity rally was populated with 50 people, more than three quarters were from outside of Shenandoah. The anti-illegal immigration rally had 580 people or more there and I knew almost every single one because they live in this town.

    I doubt that majority of these people were from town. I noticed many in the crowd from other rallies. The speakers certainly weren’t from Shenandoah. Where was the voice of a person actually born and raised there? At the Unity Rally we did hear from people in the community.

    I don’t know what the general mindset towards other races is in Shenandoah, but I do know it’s a mostly white town. Regardless, even if everyone loves each other, there is a problem when three of your children beat a man to death. It’s one thing to get in a fight (though even that is detestable) and an entirely other thing to kick an unconscious man in the head. Those kids were strong football players and look more muscular then most full grown men. The fact that three of them did what they did is sick, but I don’t believe it reflect on the whole town. However, holding an anti-illegal immigration rally because of this event doesn’t say much for the mindset there.

  9. LOL, I generally ignore your endless babbling, and I fully intend to do so after this post. However, the way you twist things literally gives me a chuckle. It’s only sad in that people believe you. Did you go to Shenandoah to help the town “unify?” Did you attend the “unity rally?” Have you done any research as to what really happened the night Luis Ramirez engaged teenage boys in a fight? Or do you just believe whatever the media tells you? I can’t wait to hear your apology when everything comes out at the trial, showing how wrong you are.
    I guess I won’t hold my breath. Your ego overshadows any good you might have done.

  10. Here’s an interesting post regarding the use of flags at rallies. They are a symbol of ethnic and cultural appreciation and not patriotism or loyalty against the US.

    Father Joseph Palacios of Georgetown University clearly explains the use of these symbols.

    “What happens when you leave a country, and you leave it because of various negative reasons, then your nostalgia for the country becomes cultural,” says Joseph Palacios, an associate professor of sociology at Georgetown University. “It morphs from the political to the cultural.”

    A Latin American who waves the flag of his nation of origin is celebrating his cultural identity, not his political allegiance, Palacios says. That’s what has happened to the Irish flag on St. Patrick’s Day and the Italian flag on Columbus Day. Those banners are folk expressions, as feel-good and non-controversial as ethnic food and costumes.


  11. Rosie, you should be ashamed of yourself for parading around Shenandoah with a bunch of racist VOPUSA folks? This highlights the ease in which you can mingle with KKK and other racists under the guise of presenting solutions to our immigration situation.

    Do you honestly believe anyone takes you seriously after that rally? If you were seriously trying to present practical, comprehensive solutions you would be advocating for a decrease in visa fees, limiting wait times, ending the anqituated quota numbers for starters.

    You should stop race-baiting and start reading!

  12. These 580 people should be going to college and stop blaming immigrants for their poor lot. Come on! Wendi and Rosie need to start pushing these citizens to get an education so that they stop passing these racist views to their children.

    Those three killers are responsible for the death of a young man. Shenandoah is proof that even the most serene of places can mine racists and hate. Those three killers should be locked up for life and the 580 townspeople who were “protesting” illegal immigration should seriously re-think their strategy and consult with their leaders. NO ONE in America is listening to you because your behavior, comments, and associations with VOPUSA places you in the lowest and most radicalized circles.

  13. People like Wendi and Rosie get off on claiming that immigration is at unprecedented levels and threatening America and so forth. Get with the program. Immigrants both documented and undocumented have been here for a very long time and have been contributing to our society.

    Levels of immigration are not unprecedented and uncontrolled. This is a myth.

    * While the immigrant population is the highest it’s ever been in absolute numbers, it isn’t so when compared to the equally increasing total U.S. population. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the percentage of immigrants has fluctuated within 5-15% of the U.S. population. As of 2006, immigrants are 12% of the U.S. population. (U.S. Census Bureau, “Historical Census Statistics on the Foreign-born Population of the United States: 1850-1990.” February 1999, and Pew Hispanic Center, “A Statistical Portrait of the Foreign-Born Population at Mid-Decade.” October 2006)

  14. Wendi,

    Of course you don’t bother reading what I write. It’s so easy to dismiss other viewpoints by claiming their meaningless or unworthy of your time. Your group has the same mindset on immigration. Apparently it’s easier to attack a man that can’t respond to your accusations.

    And why would I apologize?

    There are two undeniable facts here:
    (1) Luis Ramirez was kicked in the head when he was already unconscious.
    (2) The boys yelled racist comments at Luis and those with him.

    So I don’t care if Luis said something about these kid’s mothers. The bottom line is they’re sick young men. They were obviously born to hate and they’re law breakers themselves for being drunk and getting in the fight. How proud the town must be of them.

    In the Ruth Miller video you here on man yell “too bad it was only one” and another man yell “he deserved it.” Ruth says he didn’t deserve it, but we know what they crowd wants – blood. To deny this is irresponsible, but if it gives you a chuckle what can I say?

  15. “I don’t think that’s something they teach you in debate class.”

    Right, I never said I attended a debate class. I do just fine arguing my point on my own, thank you.

    “If you wanted to unite people under the idea that we should all obey the law then why is it only now, four weeks after an undocumented migrant is beaten to death, that you had the rally? This is not about following the laws and it’s not pro-America. Advocating for people that the United States has caused poverty for in other countries does not make one anti-American. What other laws did you talk about at the rally aside from illegal immigration? Did you talk about underage drinking? I doubt it.”

    This fight was a bad thing. Agreed? Fine. The good thing to come out of this was legal residents of this town realizing that people just like them agree with a serious problem of illegal immigrants. We caused poverty in other countries?? Are you friggen kidding me? That is too stupid to justify me providing comment. We didn’t talk about underage drinking but I think that is because it was an ANTI-ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT RALLY. If you would like to come into Shenandoah and organize an anti-underage drinking rally, I for one, would be there protesting right along side of you.

    “The law is not a lover. The law is something that is often modified and changed as it has been throughout history. I suppose we should have never changed any laws since the beginning of this country? The idea that one could be an illegal alien was only constructed in the late 1800’s.”

    Is there any reason that you cannot love something that changes and is modified to create a safer and more productive enviroment for us? I think not. The laws constructed for illegal immigration were created for a reason, and apparently you would just see fit for residents of this country here legally to just ignore the law or intentionally disobey it because you don’t like it? Maybe I don’t like the laws requiring me to pay taxes, but what happens if I ignore them? Maybe I don’t like the laws requiring me not to murder anyone, but what happens if I ignore them? Do not speak with such disregard to the laws of the United States when it is exactly those laws that you are depending on to punish people you call murderers.

    “What’s racist about marching with a Mexican flag? Maybe I’m missing something.”

    Yes you are missing something, it is called sarcasm. Please see my first comment where I spoke of you being semi-mentally challenged. Point made.

    “Regardless the Mexican flag does not have any connotation anywhere near that of the Nazi flag.”

    The Mexican flag being marched up to an anti-Illegal Immigration rally would be just as bad as marching in with a Canadian Flag. The “Nazi” flag, however, had more meaning before a hate group took it on and changed it. Besides that… I didn’t see that flag anywhere. Do you HAVE pictures of that or are you just assuming that there must have been one there?

    “I doubt that majority of these people were from town. I noticed many in the crowd from other rallies. The speakers certainly weren’t from Shenandoah. Where was the voice of a person actually born and raised there? At the Unity Rally we did hear from people in the community.”

    There you go again, assuming. The majority of the people there were from Shenandoah. I speak with certainty, not assumptions. The VOPUSA was our voice. We have been condemned continuously for being racist. If a resident of Shenandoah would have stood up there speaking, you and the other media monsters would have had a field day. The unity rally had our mayor, members of our borough council, a hispanic family from Shenandoah, and Crystal Dillman. WOW! All of the people at your rally are people who have called all of the white residents of Shenandoah, RACISTS.
    “The fact that three of them did what they did is sick, but I don’t believe it reflect on the whole town. However, holding an anti-illegal immigration rally because of this event doesn’t say much for the mindset there.”
    When you and the rest of the world know what people living in this town know, then please speak up and speak out about our mindset during these weeks. What those boys did does not have a reflection on ANY of this town, as we are individuals with different opinions, however, what Crystal Dillman has said, generalizing all of Shenandoah as racist bigots… people start to believe the worst.

    I want you to understand something else, also.
    You all keep calling the boys murderers. Luis did not die in the street that night. You say that drunken racist rage caused this, but you don’t know what Ramirez said either while he was under the influence of not only alcohol but also drugs. Have you thought for one minute that Luis may have pulled through if not for the hasty descisions of a hospital to take him off of life-support, because he was illegal with no insurance to pay the bills?

  16. If there are issues of idiocy and failing to read into ‘sarcasm’ that one might miss as such since it is used often by anti-migrant protesters then so be it. If I said you’re a racist (which I don’t necessarily believe) do I get to then call it sarcasm?

    I’m obviously not going to have an AA meeting in Shenandoah. The point is that the anti-illegal immigration rally after an undocumented migrant is beaten to death is not a healing event. Daniel didn’t even say who you were giving a moment of silence for until after it was over.

    Please help me understand why a man yells that he was sorry it was only one (referring to Luis’s death) and another stated “he deserved it.” Truly I don’t believe that all Shenandoan’s are racist including the 7-10% who attended that rally.

    Yes, I keep calling the boys murders. If they aren’t technically then so be it, but when you kick an unconscious man in the head what’s the point unless you want to kill him? Obviously only one of them gave that final kick so if anything only one of them did it.

    The Nazi flag was referred to in a news story. (link)

    I’m not sure how you can deny that the United States has caused poverty in other countries, but you need look no further than that big Wal-Mart outside of town. How can you buy a sweater for $10 and expect that a person was paid fairly to make it? We bitch about living wages here, but who cares about anyone else as long as what we buy is cheap. And that same government you all complained about funds terrorism all over the place. I’m sure you’re aware we’re in Iraq now. We’ve caused hundreds of thousands to flee there homes and why? To take out a dictator we put there.

    The current immigration laws are not fair and there are thousands of people with applications in waiting for a broken system to be fixed. People from poor countries, like Mexico, have next to no shot of becoming American citizens. And I’m sure that’s fine to the white supremacists at the rally whose sign read “third world immigrants make third world nations.”

    I understand that nobody wanted this to happen. (except the guy yelling for me during Ruth’s speech who could have been an outsider.) I’m also understand that Shenandoah is not a racist town, but that rally was a terrible thing. Especially just before your Heritage Day which is a beautiful thing. Not many towns can say that have one.

  17. Tuesday, September 02, 2008

    A community coming together for hope and understanding

    By Thomas F. O’Neill

    I was one of the participants at the unity gathering at the Kahillat Israel Nondenominational Christian Church in Shenandoah on Saturday, August 30, 2008. It follows the July 12 beating and subsequent death of Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala, 25, of Shenandoah — about 75 people, mostly Latino and many non-borough residents, filled the small church, listening to several speakers, singers and musicians.

    Some who attended commented to me afterwards that they felt as if they sat in on an evangelical political rally. Their comments seemed to have been made sarcastically though because of the religious and political undertone of the main speakers. Leaders from various state and Hispanic organizations spoke to show their support for our town’s Latino’s, and to gain the media coverage.

    The gathering did bring members of our community together though in a positive way. People left the event knowing that they are not alone in their frustrations with the racial tensions in our town.

    At the same time a group calling themselves ‘the voice of the people’ was rallying across town. Their rhetoric seemed counter productive and their actions spoke louder than their words. They seemed angry and bitter towards immigrants in general. Their arrival was divisive to the community and in no way have they brought about healing.

    The anti-immigration rally on the most part was taking advantage of our town’s economic condition. Poverty has gripped our region in a severe way. The Hispanics simply became the rally’s whipping-board for everything that is wrong with our society.

    It is true that our town is impoverished and that is one of the reasons why the Hispanics are moving here. They are here because of the low cost of living. They are also willing to work hard manual labor jobs that the average person will not work.

    We also have to realize that most of the Hispanics that immigrated to our region left behind in their native countries the most impoverished conditions imaginable. I have seen this kind of extreme poverty first hand. In the early 1990’s, I lived in Ecuador, India, Malaysia, and Australia. People living in the hills of Duran in Ecuador are living in sugarcane huts. They have no electricity, indoor plumbing, and they wash with rain water. They eat only what they can gather for that day because they have no way of preserving their food. Water must be boiled prior to using it to prevent an outbreak of cholera. Cholera is a common ailment in that country that can kill you. When I returned to the United States I was grateful for what I had and the little inconveniences were just that–little inconveniences compared to how the poor live in Ecuador.

    When I look at life in terms of my experiences, I realize how our beliefs are a major part of who we are in terms of how we relate to others. I also realize, more so now than before, how the people living in those impoverished conditions rely on their community for their survival.

    The individual cannot place themselves above their community because it is the welfare of the community that is vital for their survival. In America we rely on our rugged individualism. In Ecuador in the hills of Duran where I lived for three months there is no such concept.

    The people in Ecuador looked at me with such curiosity and they were the most loving people. I washed my clothes with them, ate with them, and we had to communicate in body language because I could not speak their language. There was one thing that they loved to do however and that was laugh. They were not aware of what they did not have in terms of technology because they were pretty much isolated from the rest of the world. On the most part they are content to live in their community because the community is their family. They could rely on one another in times of need.

    That is how most of the Hispanics in Shenandoah would like to live. They would like to reach out to their neighbors and to their community free from racial bias, bigotry, and hate. They understand implicitly what we give to the members of our community we give to ourselves.

    Our town might be ailing but the cure is in the people. Whenever we enhance the wellbeing of a person in need we in turn enhance our own lives. This type of living is becoming lost in our modern, high-tech society, but it is something we can learn from the Hispanic population.

    Most of the Hispanics have the same values our ancestors brought with them when they emigrated here. Some of our ancestors settled down in our coal region to work the manual labor jobs that most of us today could not imagine working. Some of our ancestors made little financial gains in life but they implicitly understood. You can save anything in life but life itself, and what you give to others makes your life worth living.

    Some of those same immigrants did not strive like fools for the possessions they did not have. Instead, they wisely developed what they already possessed within themselves. Today’s immigrants will pass on those same values to the next generation. Those values are what made our nation great and an example for other nations to emulate.

    The foreigners are coming to our country because they want their children and grandchildren to have better opportunities and a better life as Americans. That is what makes our country the greatest nation on earth and a beacon of light and hope for the other nations of the world.

    As for the group calling themselves ‘the voice of the people’ they seem to have an unenlightened voice. Especially, when you consider that our community is trying to come together to bring about change for the better.

    Thomas F. O’Neill

    (800) 272-6464



  18. Tuesday, August 05, 2008

    Shenandoah must find a way to heal

    By Thomas F. O’Neill

    I was one of the participants at the vigil last week for Luis Eduardo Ramirez, the young man who died, the police say, from a severe beating at the hands of Shenandoah teenagers. His candlelight service was very moving and a lot of wise words were spoken. It revealed that we must take responsibility for the community. We can’t, however, return bigotry and prejudice with hate. We must rise above by extending an understanding hand to our neighbors and to the community as a whole.

    We all tend to have condescending dismay for our town’s condition. We live from day to day, wishing for the community to change. We rarely take responsibility for our own lives by becoming the change that we would like to see in others. People spoke openly and honestly at Ramirez’s vigil, without fear. They chose to attend not just to bring about a positive change for our community but to bring about healing. These values are not for the few. They are rooted in our ethnic heritages and family trees.

    The violence and killing of Luis Eduardo Ramirez is extremely painful for his immediate family, his friends, and shocking for the entire community. This tragic hate crime should be a wake-up call for the adult community. We cannot rely on schools whether they are private or public to instill values in our neighborhood children. Those values must be instilled in the home. Bigotry and prejudice beget condescending hate and eventually violence against our own humanity.

    If we want to live in a better world we must take responsibility for the condition of our neighborhoods, and our community, by becoming the change. We as individuals must change for the better. It is easy to sit by and point the finger at others. It seems also that the biggest bigots rarely live up to what they believe is society’s standards and principles. Rather than being a positive force in their community, they tear others down with racist remarks or, in extreme cases, with violent attacks.

    The immigrants in our communities may not look like the majority of us. They may or may not speak our language, and they may not fit into the prejudicial world that some in our community would like to live in. It wasn’t that long ago when segregation was the norm, but it took forceful and enlightened voices to put an end to that extreme racial discrimination.

    We also tend to forget that our ancestors, when they came to this country, were also abused and discriminated against. That is why we must reach out a helping hand, just as our ancestors reached out to members of their community when they arrived here as immigrants from foreign countries.

    It is also unfortunate that the mining legends are becoming ancient history for Shenandoah’s youth and that the Shenandoah Historical Society is not reaching out to our community’s younger generation. We must help the youth understand that the immigrants who came to our region to work the coal mines provided our town and the region as a whole with cultural diversity. That cultural diversity gave our coal-mining towns a rich character.

    Our ancestors, with their rich ethnic heritage, implicitly understood. What we give to our community we give to ourselves, and what we change in ourselves we change in our community. Our humanity whether we are aware of it or not is our greatest resource, in times of plenty, and in times of great need.

    This community must realize also that if we truly want to see the town of Shenandoah become revitalized — whether it is through Downtown Shenandoah Inc. or other endeavors — we must reach out and become more accepting of the Hispanic business owners and to the Hispanic population as a whole.

    We must also reach out to the town’s youth. Perhaps what the town needs is a youth center. The teenagers complain that they have nowhere to go in the town.

    This national news coverage of the beating death of Luis Eduardo Ramirez only goes to show that today’s Hispanics have a voice and that voice was heard. Their voice is bringing about a change for the better, not only in their own lives but perhaps for our entire diverse community.

    The Hispanics’ cultural heritage is being instilled in their American-born children and their children will instill those same values to their grandchildren. They are contributing to our region’s overall heritage, a heritage that can be proudly passed on to the next generation.

    Thomas F. O’Neill

    (800) 272-6464




  19. Thank you for providing your voice in light of this tragedy. I believe most people understand that Shenandoah is not a bad town and those boys do not represent you.

    It’s sad that the negative voices are often loudest. Holding a divisive rally in a town that struggling in so many ways was a terrible thing for Voice of the People USA to do. I thought they were better than that – even though I don’t agree with them.

  20. Yes, I thought we were better than that too! How extremely weak and pathetic all of this typical “Your a racist” rhetoric truly is. I am so sorry that when over one thousand people ask us to do something we tend to listen. One question, do you know about all that we have done to combat property tax hikes and the unfair property reassessments being orchestrated by our corrupt commissioners and others in luzerne county? Do you know about the crimewatches that we have set up all across PA and most recently in shenandoah? Have you made mention to the voter registration drives that we have done? How about us getting involved and helping out our vets and fighting for their rights and their medical benefits? Or our work against politicians that are scandal clad and refuse their constituents their basic constitutional rights? How about us adopting a highway in order to help keep at least a stretch of our environment clean? Working with the families of 9/11 and assisting them organizing fundraisers to prosper the various foundations that they have formed in order to increase adoption rates, battle breast cancer, end illiteracy, properly equip law enforcement and firefighters, ems across the country to get the equipment they need to keep our neighborhoods safe? All of that is simply washed away and swept underneath the carpet right? Or because it’s not broadcasted all over the media I guess it didn’t and isn’t really happening right? Then it doesn’t warrant your dissecting right? What you and I put out there on our web sites and in our e-mails or in public (Which at least i’m not afraid to come out from behind my computer) is our opinion nothing more nothing less. Your opinion is different than mine and thats fine, you have done extensively great work with fighting to increase animal adoptions and I admire you greatly for that but what else have you contributed to the community? I don’t know what it may or may not be the same way you don’t know all that i’ve done so should I trash you and condemn you right away because of your one stance? I am not that shallow but apparently you cannot or are to stuborn to extend me the same courtesy! Thanks for that, I thought you were better than that and I believe that you are but understand that when you don’t fully understand something and you choose to condemn us as a whole based on one issue that you don’t agree with it makes you look exactly like what you accuse me of being. Amazingly ten percent of the city of shenandoah’s population came to our rally, did you take that into consideration? The majority says no! I and all of us condemned what happened to mr Ramirez and we had a moment of silence for him and his family, did MALDEF and LA RAZA have a moment of silence for mrs. Bologna from san francisco who’s husband and two sons were killed at the hands of an illegal alien who was previously arrested and never deported? How about the three year old child from colorado that was killed just three days ago at the hands of an illegal alien in Colarodo? Or the thousands and thousands of other people killed at the hands of illegal immigrants, who is running in to honor their memory? Who is speaking up for all of those families? The very thing that you accuse us of being is the exact thing that those groups are, opportunistic and quite sickening to use a tragedy as it’s battle cry, then again I would assume that you are saying the same thing about me with regards to 9/11 right? They came in and defecated all over small town america and all legal citizens, I am sorry that we stood up against them, I am sorry that when a high school football team deems it unsafe to play shenandoah’s team this year because of what happened we think enough is enough. When multicultural diversity classes hosted by MALDEF are made mandatory in public scholls in light of what happened there we felt it was necessary to stand up against them. Would we be wrong if we held a school assembly condemning crime and more specifically crimes committed by illegal aliens? Would that not be viewed as unacceptable? In turn that is what these groups did there against the residents of that town, and every legal immigrant that resides in our country. I guess it didn’t warrant the attention of all these groups when it was three african americans shot in the head in newark new jersey last year huh? I guess it must be ok for those crimes to happen witghout any powerhouse money hungry group to go out and advocate on their behalf right? Did you know that the ACLU helped us make sure that the rally in shenandoah happened? They questioned our intentions and afterwards offered their assistance. Did you know that on monday night I had the pleasure of sitting down and speaking with mr Arroyo and Dr. Lopez, we actually had a very candid and factual conversation and I will be having lunch with them next week to find a way to come together and fight this battle in a different way, after all we are working with the big bad ACLU, so who knows how much we can actually accomplish by coming together and finding a better way to stem the problem of illegal immigration in this country! We will also be discussing how to fix the broken immigration policies of this country in order to find a better way for immigrants wanting to be apart of the american dream, an easier more efficient process. Did you know that too? Since all of the critics are such experts on me and my group tell me what my next move will be! Please, it will be easier that way! Oh and as far as the mayor of shenandoah goes, have no fear since the majority is with us we have two people that are planning to run against him come next election and we do in fact intend on using the full extent of what this group has already compiled to back them and support them in every way possible, one is democrat and the other a republican so please spare me any one sided political intentions. I will also go on record saying that mayor Cresitello is nothing better than the groups mentioned above because he too was opportunistic and shallow and never had the intention of actually pursuing real immigration enforcement he was simply grandstanding and I am happy that he got embarrassed in the primary and obtained no higher office, he didn’t deserve it. In closing I know this rant is long and I am sure that you will trash and bash it but in all reality you do know that I respect you but please do not take for granted all of the other things that we are involved in, I know you will say it is the one issue that defines us but in truth you and I both know that you are wrong and if leaders from the “Other side” are willing to sit down and discuss new strategies with me and understand why I do what I do and why all of us together act on behalf of the people that are our support base then surely so can you, or are the other’s like the ACLU, Mr. Arroyo, and Dr. Lopez now traitors too!?!

  21. I can’t digest all of this comment right now, but if you want others to see all the other things you do then you should do a better job of broadcasting them.

    Your trip to Shenandoah sickens me and I can’t believe you went there. I never thought you’d support supremacists and those that seek to vilify a man beaten to death – but there you were.

    You know full well there are supremacists in your guest book and I’m tired of the lame excuses. You and everyone else in that space communicate with them like brothers and apparently one of them helped you coordinate the Shenandoah Rally.

    During your speed the camera points right at a man that says “white power.” What the hell is going on Daniel? Your slipping into a dirty and evil place.

    If you want to help people then help them – all. If you’re pro-legal immigrant then let’s get to it. If you want people to know all you do then put it on your website. Isn’t that what it’s for?

  22. I have never deemed it necessary to broadcast what I actually do for the community in which I live. I had a very limited role with setting up the last rally but in the end we responded when the people reached out to us. I have never and will never associate with known preachers of hate if anyone else in our guestbook is then it is their perrogative but at the events no messages of hate are ever broadcasted. Again I will repeat this, I DID NOT HEAR THE PHRASE WHITE POWER BEING YELLED!! If I had I would’ve addressed it directly I can’t watch the videos because I can’t afford a computer but if it was said then I am truly sorry because there is no room for hate, there is enough of it in our world and all that I lost on 9/11 were victims of true hatred and it need not ever be duplicated. I intend on emailing you soon because I would in fact like to ask you a few questions. Please understand that this is an emotional time for me and I do apologize for coming across harsh that is not my attention and I am sorry.

  23. Daniel,

    It’s time to wake up and find a better way to deal with this. The truth is it would be more difficult for you to find people that wanted to truly find a solution than to keep with those you currently deal with.

    It’s my right to point out something that actually happened. If there was something positive that happened at this rally I would have said so, but nothing positive happened that Saturday at that baseball field.

    If one idiot decided to yell “white power” into the camera then one would only assume that he’s not alone in that sentiment. You guys like to quote our fore fathers and you might be interested to know that Benjamin Franklin didn’t want Germans in PA because he believed that since the English established it they should have to live with the alien hordes. He also believed they’d never “assimilate” or “learn the language.” Sound familiar? It’s time to stop repeating the evils of the past and find a better way.

  24. I have a question for you Daniel Smeriglio. Why do you try to present yourself as being a big Barletta supporter?

    It has become a known fact that Barletta’s camp is doing everything possible to distance themselves from you.

    Barletta’s campaign Manager told David Montgomery from the Washington post that ‘Lou Barletta does not condone nor does he support the activities of ‘Voice of the people.’

    Another campaign employee went on the record as calling you an ‘extremist nut job.’

    You act as if you’re campaigning for Lou Barletta.

    Barletta went on the record as wanting nothing to do with you or your extremist group.

    The message your group is spouting is nothing more than – extremism – which throughout history proved to be dangerous.

    If you hold another rally in Shenandoah.

    It is going to become common knowledge through the media. From Mayor Barletta himself that he does not condone your racist activities.

    John Pittman

    Hazleton Resident

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