Concerned citizens, lawmaker mark
2nd anniverary of Joey Luna's death
with calls for independent investigations
'A kid from the South Bronx that
always wanted to make a difference'
December 4 , 2005 -- A vigil marking the second anniversary of the death of Baltimore federal prosecutor Jonathan Luna proceeded despite overnight snow and freezing rain at the scene of Luna's death, a creekside outside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. On hand were a diverse group: several of Luna's friends, concerned citizens and activists, a central Pennsylvania city councilwoman, and a retired policeman.
Concerned citizens light candles at vigil (top), while Jon's friend, Danny Rivera, gives tv interview (bottom).
"I think that's it's very fitting today it would start off early in the morning with a snowfall, and cold, damp and miserable weather," Ron Harper, Jr., of Lancaster, told those assembled for the tribute. "For it was two years on this day that Mr. Luna died on this grounds."
Those assembled joined their voices to a call by a Pennsylvania lawmaker for a complete and independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Luna, who was found drowned, face-down in the remote steam in December 2003. He had been stabbed 36 times.
At the vigil friends remembered Jonathan, while they and supporters called for a complete investigation into the FBI's handling of Luna's case, and events leading to Jonathan Luna's death.
Jonathan father, Paul Luna, spoke by telephone to some of those in attendance.
"I grew up with Joey, as we who were close to him always used to call him," John Rivera, a longtime friend of Luna's fron New York, reflected. "He was a kid from the south Bronx that always wanted to make a difference. He also wanted others to follow in his footsteps. He would always say, 'Do better.' It's unfortunate that his life ended in this manner. I know if he was here, and there was somebody else that this happened to, he would not stop until he got to the bottom of it. I just hope that one day I could lay in my bed and (know) the truth. I love you, Joey."
While the media coverage was generally good -- including front-page articles in the Lancaster and Harrisburg, PA, daily newspapers (the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal and the Harrisburg Patriot-News), and a tv crew from the local NBC affiliate, WGAL-TV -- the striking neglect of this important story by the broader national and state press continues.
The ongoing neglect of Luna's story was commented upon by some of those in attendance at the vigil.
God and country: a wreath, and flags, mark spot where Jonathan Luna's body was found after he vanished from the Baltimore federal courthouse. Luna had been stabbed 36 times, and drowned in the creek behind cross (top). Photos of Luna in court, and smiling, decorate the wreath (bottom).
York, PA, city councilwoman Toni Smith, who helped lay an evergreen memorial wreath, commented that the overall inattention to Luna's death was shameful and an embarrassment to Pennsylvania and the United States. "If Jonathan Luna had been a white, Irish policemen, you can bet this would be a different story," Smith said afterwards.
Smith recounted to those assembled that she had grown up in fascist Italy. As a young girl, she would sometimes see Mussolini and Hitler walking together down the street, acting like everyday politicians, waving to the crowd. "I wasn't afraid of Moussilini," Smith commented. "I'm not afraid of anyone else."
In his comments at the ceremony, Yardbird writer and editor Bill Keisling put Luna's death in appropriate context.
"Jonathan Luna's death represents not only a great personal tragedy, but a social and political crisis of the first magnitude," Keisling told those at the vigil. "America fell here too. We must put this right. We must address not only the circumstances surrounding Joey Luna's death. We must address anew, and put right, the afflictions of those suffering from poverty, and cut off from the American dream."
Keisling said that the spot of Luna's death, "marks another sacrifice on a new battlefield, on a new frontier, in this fresh American century."
Keisling quoted from the 19th century poet William Cullen Bryant's poem, The Battle-Field:
"Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again.
The eternal years of God are theirs....
Another hand they sword shall wield, Another hand the standard wave."
Jonathan Luna's friends meanwhile remembered Jonathan as a good and kind man, who believed in hard work and the American dream, and who wanted to help those victimized by inner-city crime.
"I want to see the truth come out," said Luna's long-time friend and best man, Daniel Rivera.
"This whole thing is an embarrassment to law enforcement in the United States," commented Ed Smith, a retired York, PA, policeman.
In a related development, Pennsylvania State Representative Mark Cohen (D-Philadelphia) on Friday, December 2, 2005, wrote U.S. Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine, requesting, "a fresh, complete, and independent investigation by your office, using all available resources at your disposal, into the cases prosecuted by (Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Luna and Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar) leading up to their disappearances. No stones should be left unturned."
Cohen wrote, "...Due to its problems with its Confidential Informant in (the Luna) case, how can the public be assured that this case is being properly investigated by the FBI? The FBI has historically been recalcitrant to open itself to outside scrutiny over problems with its Confidential Informant program.
"While of course the grievous irregularities in this case by no means point to a suspect in Luna's death, the FBI certainly has a conflict in solving the case."