Newspaper Publication of Anti-Latino Comments Stirs Controversy
Asked to opine about the worst aspect of living in the Hazleton area, Yanoski replied, “All the Hispanics who moved here.”
Asked how he would improve the quality of life in Hazleton, he said, “Get rid of the Hispanics.”
By publishing Yanoski’s racially repugnant comments, the Standard-Speaker threw gasoline on the highly volatile local issue of native-immigrant relations: Hazleton in 2006 was one of four U.S. communities that passed tough legislation against undocumented immigrants ahead of the passage of Arizona’s controversial S.B. 1070. Hazleton also is just 20 miles away from the Schuylkill County town of Shenandoah, where Latino-white tensions boiled over in July 2008 with the unprovoked beating death of Luis Ramirez by three intoxicated white teenagers who had just left a party. An all-white jury later convicted two of the boys merely of misdemeanor assault, acquitting Brandon Piekarsky of third-degree murder and Derrick Donchak of ethnic intimidation. The two were later convicted of federal hate crime violations and each sentenced to nine years in prison.
The Standard-Speaker item also shattered the peace of another man – former Hazleton resident Richard Peter Yanoski Jr., 39, now of Harrisburg, Pa., who received such a barrage of nasty comments over the feature that he had to shut down his Facebook and LinkedIn pages. He wasn’t the man who made the comments; the newspaper subsequently identified the actual interviewee as Richard Mark Yanoski, 53.