I often wonder how people in some professions can sometimes do what they do, unavoidably exposed to what they must see as part of their work, and not give up entirely on the human race, the human condition. Beyond my own profession as a Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer, I’m thinking of two other professions: law enforcement and news reporting – because those two professions see the worst of what our world has to offer. Reading what follows, you will know what I mean.
Damian Merida is (almost was,) a 30 year-old Guatemalan. He immigrated to this country when he was young, after most of his ten brothers and sisters preceded him here, because they were living in a dirt-floor house inside a poverty-wracked village that had almost no food, medicine, employment, or future. As it had for so many others before his family, the United States beckoned as a place where a chance at making something of yourself, a chance at a decent life, still existed. He and his siblings settled in Lynn, Massachusetts. While he entered the country without legal approval – and while I can already hear the far-right’s cries of “He’s “an illegal” – he got what he deserved,” the fact remains that what I will describe was done to him, had no relation whatsoever to his being a legal or illegal immigrant. He could have had a file folder full of stamped and certified immigration papers on him, and this savagery would have happened anyway. (It’s also a fact that if any of the conservative right found themselves living in a dirt-floor hut in a dirt-poor country with no hope and no future, they’d enter this country any way they could, legally or illegally.)
On July 22, As Merida slept under a shade tree in Robert McManus Field in Lynn, a wide, grassy park about a mile from his house, a pack of children allegedly descended on the 30-year-old landscaper, and savagely beat him with a mix of bricks, bottles, sticks and rocks. The savage and inhuman attack has provoked questions and incited fear throughout this city and beyond, because according to the Lynn Police Department, Merida was targeted solely because of his ethnicity. His alleged attackers are six boys age 11 to 14; most were on championship sports teams, and one is an immigrant himself, from West Africa. Hate ran through their young veins – hate almost certainly inspired and cultivated by parents and older youths. Authorities are investigating whether this same group of boys was responsible for an attack in the Lynn area two weeks prior to the attack on Merida, on another man from Guatemala. Lynn police are urging the victim to come forward.