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Hundreds protest New York immigrant's fatal beating

  • Story Highlights
  • Police say December 7 beating of Jose Sucuzhanay may have been a hate crime
  • Authorities say attackers shouted racial slurs; Sucuzhanay died Friday
  • Brother: He'll be remembered as "a victim of a hate crime"
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From Susan Candiotti
CNN
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- A few hundred people on Sunday marched in Brooklyn to protest last week's fatal beating of a 31-year-old Ecuadorean man -- an incident authorities say may have been a hate crime.

Jose Sucuzhanay was beaten December 7 after leaving a party at a church.

The demonstrators -- holding signs reading "No more hate crimes" -- walked a half-mile in the neighborhood where police say Jose Sucuzhanay was hit in the head with a bottle and beaten with an aluminum baseball bat on December 7.

Sucuzhanay died of his injuries Friday at Elmhurst Hospital, hours before his mother arrived in New York from Ecuador, his family said.

Police said Sucuzhanay's attackers yelled racial slurs; no arrests have been made in the case. One of his brothers, Diego Sucuzhanay, said Sunday he is convinced the attack was a hate crime.

"Nothing was taken from him," said Diego Sucuzhanay, who didn't join the demonstration, opting instead to help his mother make arrangements to return the body to Ecuador. Video Watch marchers protest against hate crimes »

Police said Jose Sucuzhanay and his brother Romel had left a party at a church when several men approached them in a car in Brooklyn's Bushwick section, about a block from the brothers' home. The men shouted anti-gay and anti-Latino vulgarities and attacked the brothers, police said.

Romel, 34, escaped with minor scrapes and has talked with detectives. Police have released a sketch of one possible suspect in the case.

Police are offering a $22,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the attack.

In a statement, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the attack "a pointless and gutless crime." He promised authorities would find and prosecute those responsible.

Family spokesman Francisco Moya said Jose Sucuzhanay had lived in the United States for more than a decade and was a legal resident.

Diego Sucuzhanay said Jose set up a successful real estate business in a low-income area, thinking he could make a difference there.

He said his brother wanted to help everyone and hired a diverse team, including four African-Americans and two Latinos. He was raising two children: a 9-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter.

"We were proud of him," Diego Sucuzhanay said.

He said the family had wanted Jose's mother to get to his bedside before he died. Doctors told them Jose was brain dead since the attack, and that machines kept him alive until his heart failed Friday.

At a press conference Sunday outside the hospital, Diego Sucuzhanay touched his chest and said: "My heart is broken, but my brother's [memory] will live on. "

Asked in an interview with CNN how his brother would be remembered, he paused several seconds and answered: "For being the victim of a hate crime."

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Though he didn't participate in the demonstration, he said he was grateful to those who did, and that everyone needs to practice tolerance.

"We definitely have to speak out," he said.

All About New York CityHate Crimes

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