Monday, April 12, 2010

Story of Rodulfo Olmedo

He almost made it home.

Rodulfo Olmedo, a 26-year-old Mexican baker, put the key into the door of his apartment after 4:30 in the morning last Monday. But just before Olmedo turned the lock he was knocked on the back of the head and savagely beaten by four teenagers wielding baseball bats and allegedly shouting "Fuckin' Mexican" and "Stupid Mexican."

As the location of the most recent hate crime on Staten Island, this Port Richmond neighborhood is shaken and residents are left wondering what will come next.

"In the morning there was so much blood outside. I got scared," said Benjamin Leyva, owner of the La Hacienda Mexico bodega.

Leyva's security cameras at La Hacienda Mexico caught the beating in vivid detail as Olmedo was repeatedly pounced with baseball bats and two-by-fours. The assailants then took his wallet and cell phone and left him lying unconscious on the pavement.

"I was surprised, when I saw the video," Leyva said. "I thought he was gonna die."

Leyva turned the tape over to police. After the beating played on television a concerned citizen recognized the men and alerted the police who promptly made arrests.

Rolston Hopson, Tyrone Goodman, and William Marcano were arraigned in Stapleton Criminal Court on Saturday and accused of a slew of charges including robbery, assault, criminal weapons possession, and hate crimes. A fourth assailment, a 15-year-old male, was not named.

If convicted they face up to 25 years in prison.

Olmedo was taken to Richmond University Medical Center and treated for a skull fracture, bruised arms and ribs and has suffered memory loss.

"He is a very nice guy, a very good worker," said Martha Navarrete, who worked with him at Cafe Con Pan Bakery just a few doors from his apartment.

"I hear he is home now," she said. "He is doing better."

Unfortunately for the immigrants in Staten Island, this was not an isolated incident.

Last June a Nicaraguen chef was beaten by a man in the Bull's Head section of Staten Island who allegedly shouted "Fuckin' Mexicans, this is my country!"

"It's dangerous," Navarette said about violence in the neighborhood.

"I have kids out here," she said. "Now it was him, but tomorrow we don't know who it's gonna be."

Last Friday, a host of politicians including Council Speaker Christine Quinn, held a press conference on Staten Island to denounce the attacks.

“We all strongly denounce the hate that exists around us,” said Speaker Quinn. “We are all partners against hate."

The Port Richmond neighborhood has become home to many Mexican immigrants in recent years. According to the New York City Department of Health, 24 percent – approximately 15,000 -- of Port Richmond residents are from Mexico.

“They’ve enhanced the neighborhood quite well, in my opinion," said Pat Silvestri, owner of Nat's Mens Shop, which has operated in the neighborhood for more than 75 years.

"Other people disagree, but I believe they've made this a very vibrant place," he said.

Sunday night, the local Mexican community held a candlelight vigil outside Olmedo's apartment. A hand-made banner read "Paremos La Violencia" or "Stop the Violence." Residents gathered to support Olemdo and discuss the recent attack.

"It's not safe," Leyva, the bodega owner, said. "A lot of Mexicans get robbed by different kinds of people."

No comments:

Post a Comment