Thursday, September 13, 2007

Horror Gateway

The hate crime that killed Cheryl Green may be part of a larger campaign, orchestrated out of the prisons

The spot where Cheryl Green was gunned down by the 204th St. Gang

Like other African-American residents of this 12-block working-class enclave, Charlene Lovett came to the South L.A. neighborhood of Harbor Gateway thinking she was giving her kids a better life. Shortly after she settled in, her neighbors came over to warn her about a decade of violence by Latino gangs against neighborhood blacks. Lovett recalls, "They said don't walk north to 204th Street."

That was six years ago. Today, one wall in Lovett's tidy ground floor apartment is dedicated with photos, letters, and posters to her 14-year-old daughter Cheryl Green, who was brutally gunned down in December by the 204th Street Gang, the 100-member Latino street gang that has been terrorizing the black community there. "I'm not part of a gang. My daughter was not part of a gang," Lovett stresses. "My daughter was killed because of the color of her skin."

This is not a gang war. There is no black gang that encroaches on the 204's turf. The hate is so prevalent and obvious that activists and city officials alike can no longer avoid calling it by the name being used by everyone from prosecutors to opinion writers in the L.A. Times: ethnic cleansing. "I'm not saying it's a problem with Latinos generally," Lovett clarifies. "I wouldn't dare say that. All I'm saying is that the gangs here have let it be known that they hate black people.

"They have written it on the walls, graffiti-ed the ground, and put it online, on the web."

The evidence is hard to miss: the N-word is graffitied everywhere; 206th Street has been declared a line blacks cannot cross; there is a big market on 204th Street in which blacks are forbidden to shop. Like other Latino gang members, one of the suspects charged in this murder had a MySpace web page riddled with anti-black rhetoric.

And now, more. Seated at her dining table and joined by Los Angeles Humanity Advocacy Group's Melvin Snell and Project Islamic Hope's Najee Ali, Lovett listens, hands pressed against her mouth, as Snell reads a letter she recently received from the previous occupant of her apartment. And though it came just a few days ago, "Words of encouragement from one black mother to another," is dated December 13, 2006. The sender, Snell calls her "Blank" � was working in the Emergency Room in Harbor UCLA hospital the night Cheryl and her friends were rushed in. She helped get the victims out of the car. "I watched them work on your baby," she says.

"I know you don't remember me, but my name is �Blank.� I'm the lady who used to live in your apartment. When I moved out, you moved in. I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am for not warning you about the 204s. You see I had a bad experience with them. They shot my daughter's boyfriend's car up one night as they were leaving to go to the movies. God spared my daughter, for some reason. I don't know. God needed Cheryl up in heaven."

Across the street, newly constructed Spanish-style town homes are riddled with bullet holes and anti-black graffiti. Photographer Ted Soqui was taking pictures when he caught up with the developer, a Chinese immigrant, who said he has to patch broken windows and bullet holes and clean up the 204s racial slogans once a week. It�s sad, he said. He was trying to build something that would make the neighborhood nicer.

Ernesto Alcarez, 20, was arrested Dec. 21 in connection with Green�s murder, and on Jan. 4 police had Jonathan Fajardo, 18, the alleged triggerman, in custody. Both are charged with special circumstances murder, attempted murder, ? and hate crimes. They can face the death penalty if convicted.

On Jan. 15, Ali announced that he had negotiated a peace treaty with the 204s that would be signed at 10 a.m. the following Thursday outside the Del Amo market where blacks are forbidden to shop. One of the reasons, he said, was fear of more violence by black gangs living outside the Harbor Gateway area who might come seeking retaliation. Snell, National Action Network President Rev. K.W. Tullos, members of Ali�s Latino and African American Leadership Alliance, and members of the 204th Street Gang would all be present.

That event was co-opted by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who scheduled a press conference on the subject at exactly the same time, right nearby. At 10 a.m. that Thursday, Villaraigosa stood outside the Del Amo Market with LAPD Chief William Bratton and FBI Director Robert Muller and announced that they were putting the 204�s on gang injunctions and taking other measures citywide. �We are coming with everything we have � and we are putting you out of business,� the mayor said.

As gang violence increased 40 percent in 2006, community leaders prevailed on the mayor and law enforcement to take a harder look at the increase in hate crimes � not only in Harbor Gateway, but also in Long Beach, where a crowd of blacks on Halloween attacked three white teenage girls. In Highland Park, where prosecutors who obtained hate-crime convictions against four members of the Latino gang, the Avenues, uncovered the gang�s chilling �racial cleansing plot� against young African Americans and their Latino supporters.

Criminal attorney Anthony Willoughby has defended gang members as well as members of the Mexican Mafia, the prison gang known by the FBI to control some aspects of the drug trade. Unlike street gangs, this Mafia is highly organized; Latino gangs pay them a tax. As long as recalcitrant gang members don�t end up in prison, Willoughby explains, they are safe. However, since most gangbangers will do at least one prison stint, a Latino gang member who refuses to carry out their agenda stands a good chance of being killed.

To Willoughby this is the �the 400-pound gorilla in the room.� No one is talking about it. "Every race riot in L.A. is precipitated and directed by the Mexican Mafia," he says.

�[Villaraigosa and others are] missing the boat,� he adds. �The issue is that the Mexican Mafia has issued a green light for these killings. Unless you deal with the source, the Mexican Mafia, you�re only dealing with the symptoms. The light must go red.�

When asked by Newsweek reporter Andrew Murr last week if prison gang violence was spilling onto the streets, Bratton answered, �There were stories a couple of years back about the Mexican Mafia targeting blacks, but we could not document it anywhere.�

�We�assumed that Muller the head of the FBI would have at least briefed�Bratton before they met, or�e-mailed him a copy of the report on the FBI website detailing the Mexican Mafia�s stated desire to kill all blacks,� Ali says.

Five days after the mayor's press conference, there's new graffiti on 205 St. It says "205s Fuck the Injunctions."

"It wasn't there this morning," says William, a black man who doesn't want to give us his last name. "They used to write 204s." When William first moved here, the 204s visited and said he wasn't allowed to go to the market.

On the other side of 205th Street and Harvard, a Latino man holding his baby daughter stops to talk to us. He points west, down the block. That's where they deal the drugs, he says. "By the trucks. You see? They kill many children there."

Early in the morning on January 21, a black man on his way to pick up his kids was shot on 225 St. Law enforcement believes it was the work of a rival Latino gang, the East Torrance gang that Ali says has threatened to kill him if he doesn't stop coming around.

"I've been coming over here since about 1995 and this has always been about racial tension. There is no other gang here," says a 30-year-old African American who wished to go unnamed.

"If the white population was acting like the Latino population, we'd have the Department of Justice and everyone else in here," Willoughby says. "Because the actions that are occurring right now are worse than the Ku Klux Klan."

Source: StreetGangs

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

6 Arrests In Alleged Torture Case In W.Va.

Victim Is Black, Suspects Are White; Cops Consider Hate Crime Charges
CHARLESTON, W.Va., Sept. 11, 2007

(CBS/AP) Authorities said Tuesday they are considering hate crime charges in the case of a woman who was tortured while being held captive for at least a week, and they are investigating the possibility that she was lured by a man she met on the Internet.

The victim was repeatedly called a racial slur while her captors sexually abused, beat and stabbed her, her mother said.

Six people, all white, including a mother and son and a mother and daughter, were arrested in connection with the alleged abduction of the 20-year-old black woman.

"I don't understand a human being doing another human being the way they did my daughter," Carmen Williams said Tuesday from her daughter's room at Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital. "I didn't know there were people like that out here."

Megan Williams, with a cast on her arm, spoke barely above a whisper.

"I'm better," she said.

The Associated Press generally does not identify suspected victims of sexual assault, but Williams and her mother agreed to release her name.

A prosecutor said police are investigating the possibility that the victim was lured to the house where she was attacked by a man she met on the internet, but Carmen Williams insisted that wasn't the case. "This wasn't from the Internet," she said.

Deputies also interviewed the victim Tuesday morning. State, local and federal officials planned to meet later in the day to decide whether to file hate crime charges, Logan County sheriff's Sgt. Sonya Porter said. An FBI spokesman in Pittsburgh, Bill Crowley, confirmed that the agency is looking into possible civil rights violations.

The woman's abductors called her the N-word "every time they stabbed her," Carmen Williams told The Charleston Gazette earlier.

Authorities were still looking for two people they believe drove the woman to the house where she was abused, said Logan County Chief Deputy V.K. Dingess.

The case is "something that would have come out of a horror movie," Logan County Sheriff W.E. Hunter said.

Deputies found Williams on Saturday when they went to the house in Big Creek, about 35 miles southwest of Charleston, to investigate an anonymous tip from someone who had witnessed the abuse, Porter said Tuesday.

One of the suspects, Frankie Brewster, was sitting on the front porch and told deputies she was alone, but moments later the woman limped toward the door, her arms outstretched, saying "Help me," the sheriff's department said in a news release.

Carmen Williams said doctors told her daughter she may be well enough to leave the hospital within a few days, although a nurse said the young woman's condition was listed as "under evaluation."

"I just want my daughter to be well and recover," Carmen Williams said. "I know the Lord can do anything."

Besides being sexually assaulted, the woman was stabbed four times in the left leg and beaten, Porter said. Her eyes were black and blue. The wounds were inflicted at least a week ago, deputies said.

The woman was forced to eat rat and dog feces and drink from a toilet, according to the criminal complaint filed in magistrate court. She also had been choked with a cord, it alleges.

She was made to lick parts of Brewster’s body, under the threat of death, according to The Charleston Gazette. Her hair was pulled out. She was sexually assaulted while hot water was poured on her body, and while a man held a knife to her, the paper reported.

One of those arrested, Karen Burton, is accused of cutting the woman's ankle with a knife. She used the N-word in telling the woman she was victimized because she is black, according to the criminal complaint.

The six suspects were arrested Saturday and Sunday. Deputies were still trying to determine whether the woman knew her assailants, Porter said.

Brewster, the 49-year-old who owns the home where the alleged attacks occurred, is charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, malicious wounding and giving false information during a felony investigation.

Her son, Bobby R. Brewster, 24, also of Big Creek, is charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, malicious wounding and assault during the commission of a felony.

Burton, 46, of Chapmanville, is charged with malicious wounding, battery and assault during the commission of a felony.

Her daughter Alisha Burton, 23, of Chapmanville, and George A. Messer, 27, of Chapmanville, are charged with assault during the commission of a felony and battery.

Danny J. Combs, 20, of Harts, is charged with sexual assault and malicious wounding.

All six remained in custody Tuesday in lieu of $100,000 bail each, and all have asked for court-appointed attorneys.

Source: CBSNews

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Kansas City Minuteman Extremist refuses to step down

The Associated Press

Kansas City — A woman whose presence on the city's park board has two national groups threatening to pull their conventions from Kansas City unless she steps down says she doesn't intend to resign.

Mayor Mark Funkhouser's June appointment of an Frances Semler, an anti-illegal immigration activist and member of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, has caused a stir in the local Hispanic community. It also has led officers of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Council of La Raza to threaten cancellation of national conventions in Kansas City.

Not hosting those events in 2009 and 2010 could cost the city thousands of visitors and millions of dollars.

Semler said Thursday that she felt the pressure from the two national groups and was shaken by a local group that showed up at her doorstep Wednesday.

But, she said, "I don't intend to resign."

In June, Funkhouser turned down Semler's offer to resign after the initial uproar over her appointment. But on Thursday he said he wouldn't require her to stay on the park board, because of recent events.

"If she feels like it's more than she wants to deal with, I'm not going to force her to do it," Funkhouser said.

Semler called the attention from the national civil rights groups "the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard" and said her views on immigration should not affect her service on the board. She is a member of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, which opposes illegal immigration and has set up patrols along the border with Mexico.

Funkhouser said he continues to support Semler, even if it means losing the two conventions and any other events.

The dispute comes amid efforts to boost downtown and has left many in the Kansas City tourism industry concerned. More than $1 billion has been invested in visitor amenities and attractions now under construction in a reinvented entertainment and night life district near the city's Bartle Hall convention center. As the new district slowly takes shape ahead of a planned spring 2008 opening, future convention bookings have been hitting record levels.

"This has turned into a political dogfight that hurts our employees, and that is sad," said Tom Holden, executive director of the Hotel and Lodging Association of Greater Kansas City.

Kansas City officials learned last month that the city was the NAACP's unofficial choice to host the group's 2010 national convention, which is expected to bring 10,000 visitors and $9 million in spending impact over the weeklong event.

La Raza, the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights organization, plans to hold its 2009 four-day event in Kansas City, bringing in 4,000 visitors who are estimated to spend $5.5 million.

"The country is looking at our city and seeing what we stand for," said Rita Valenciano of the Coalition of Hispanic Organizations. "Do we stand for a community that's diverse, inclusive and welcoming? Or do we stand for bigotry and hatred against a targeted group because of their looks and appearance and language?"

City Councilwoman Beth Gottstein said she worries this issue could grow into a bigger boycott of Kansas City.

Source: News-Leader

Police look into racist vandalism in Dogtown

Gary Klien
Marin Independent Journal

Racist comments scrawled on a highway sign and a tarp in West Marin have prompted an investigation by the sheriff's office.

The vandalism was discovered at 3:45 a.m. Wednesday by a deputy patrolling Shoreline Highway in Dogtown, a sparsely populated village between Olema and Bolinas. Police said someone wrote "Help KKK kill blacks" on a state "Adopt a Highway" sign in the 5900 block of Shoreline Highway.

The vandal or vandals also wrote "It's not a crime to be white and proud" on a tarp and stretched it from the highway sign to a nearby tree, said sheriff's Lt. Scott Anderson.

The vandalism had not been present when the deputy passed the area at 8:45 p.m. Tuesday.

"The smell of fresh paint was still in the air," Anderson said.

No similar incidents have been reported, and Anderson said he could recall no such graffiti ever occurring in the area.

Cela O'Connor, who has lived in Dogtown since 1966, expressed disbelief when informed of the incident.

"You're kidding - in West Marin?" she said. "I know everybody who lives out here in Dogtown. I just don't see that coming from anyone up in my neck of the woods.

"That's really odd. That's an anomaly. All we got out here is signs that say 'Save the white deer.'"

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's investigators at 499-7265.

Hate-related crimes of any variety are rare in Marin. In 2006, eight hate offenses were reported, including five in San Rafael, two in Novato and one in the unincorporated area, according to the state Department of Justice.

In 2005, Marin reported 10 hate-related offenses, including seven in unincorporated areas, two in Novato and one in San Rafael.

By comparison, Sonoma County, which has roughly twice Marin's population, logged 29 hate-related offenses last year, including two in Petaluma.

Statewide, the number of hate offenses increased slightly between 2005 and 2006, rising from 1,691 to 1,702, the Department of Justice reported.

Roughly two-thirds of the incidents involved race, ethnicity or national origin; the remainder primarily involved sexual orientation or religion.

The number of hate-related offenses in California hit a 10-year peak of 2,265 in 2001.

Source: MarIniJ

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Hispanofacist groups?

(REMOVED: Article was found to be inaccurate)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Man smashes Home Depot checkout stand with pry bar he was trying to buy


Well, let's look at it this way: At least, this guy wasn't buying a blowtorch.

But that age-old adage -- that patience is a virtue -- somehow slipped the mind of a man shopping at Home Depot on Utah Avenue South in Seattle on Thursday.

Around 9 p.m., the man was in line at a self-service checkout stand, ready to buy a pry bar and hacksaw, according to a Seattle police report.

But as a manager told an officer, the man accidentally hit the button for Spanish on the computer screen.

And that was the tipping point for this consumer.

He became "frustrated that the machine was speaking Spanish," the police report says.

So, instead of asking for customer service help, he let loose a blow with the pry bar and shattered the computer. He ran from the store and made a beeline to some nearby railroad tracks, the report said.

A Seattle police officer searched for the customer. But he had vanished.

The manager believes he caused about $10,000 in damages. He left the pry bar in his shopping cart.

P-I reporter Brad Wong can be reached at 206-448-8137 or

Source: SeattlePI

Swastika Duo Busted

By Post Wire Services

September 3, 2007 -- A member of a white supremacist group and a teenage accomplice were arrested on charges of scrawling swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti on the side of a synagogue and on a school bus, a school and a house on Long Island, police said yesterday.

Swastikas and anti-Jewish slurs scrawled in red spray paint were found Saturday on the Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore in Plandome, on a school bus parked at Roslyn HS and on a Roslyn Estates home, police said. Graffiti also was found at a nearby elementary school.

Police on Saturday arrested John Rocissano, 20, and Matthew Felicetti, 17, in all four incidents. Rocissano, of Manhasset, and Felicetti, of Floral Park, were to be arraigned on several counts of aggravated harassment and criminal mischief.

Source: NYPost

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Arsonist sentenced in racially motivated house fire

Man, 38, convicted of multiple crimes, faces 17 years

By Anne Sullivan, The News-Herald

DETROIT — Lori Doster and her 14-year-old daughter, Vianca, were in U.S. District Court on Tuesday as one of the men convicted of setting fire to their house in Taylor was sentenced.

Wayland Mullins, 38, of Taylor was sentenced to 17 years and three months in prison.

A jury found Mullins guilty April 20 of conspiring to violate the civil rights of the Reginald Doster family, interfering with the family's housing rights, using fire to commit a felony and conspiring to obstruct a federal investigation. It also found that his actions were racially motivated.

The Dosters are black and Mullins is white.

Two other men, both white, also have been convicted in the crime.

Michael Richardson, 35, of Taylor was convicted of the same four charges and will be sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court.

Ricky Cotton, 35, also of Taylor, was convicted by a jury of lying to federal investigators and a federal grand jury for obstructing justice. He also pleaded guilty to conspiring with Mullins and Richardson and others to violate the Dosters' housing rights.

Cotton was sentenced in April to 6 1/2 years in prison and is serving time in the Federal Corrections Institution in Milan.

Reginald and Lori Doster had lived in Taylor for nine years before they bought a house in the 5900 block of Ziegler in 2002. It was the first house the couple had purchased. They were fixing up the house and preparing to move in when the fire was set.

During the trial, prosecutors proved that Mullins and several of his neighbors discussed burning down the house the Dosters had recently purchased.

After the discussion, Mullins broke a bedroom window in the family's house, poured gasoline in the window and set the fire July 28.

The fire had burned itself out and was discovered when the family returned to the house to continue working on it.

The fire was contained to one bedroom, but soot and smoke covered the freshly painted walls.

"I feel very good today," Lori Doster said Wednesday.

"By me being the person I am, (and hearing) 17 years, I felt bad. But being in court, and him still denying it, I have no empathy for him. He's the one who struck the match or lit the lighter.

"Vianca, she was happy. She was 9 at the time; (now) she's 14. She felt bad (about) 17 years, but it's like she said, 'He showed no remorse.'"

Although Mullins apologized in court, Doster said she didn't think it was a sincere apology.

"He said, 'I'm sorry, but I didn't firebomb the house,'" Doster said.

"I believe he was sorry he got caught. I didn't believe his apology, not at all."

Doster said her husband and son were working and couldn't be in court when Mullins was sentenced.

She also plans to be there when Richardson is sentenced.

"I lived in Taylor 12 years," Doster said. "Vianca grew up in Taylor. When we moved to that area of Taylor, up to Van Born and Ziegler, everything changed."

U.S. attorneys said the three men told "nothing but lies," the neighborhood hung together and it was a three-year conspiracy to run out the Doster family.

"Only that neighborhood knows everyone involved," Doster said. "I don't feel safe in Taylor."

In addition to the house being set on fire, people would drive over their front lawn, damaging it. Dead cats and dead dogs were thrown in the yard. And, drains were pulled up in the street near where the family parked cars.

After three years, they moved out. She would not say where the family is living.

"We're not going to live in fear, but we will be cautious," Doster said. "When I ride through Taylor I get an eerie feeling. I can't say I hate Taylor. The city has beautiful trees and houses, but (officials) know there are problems they need to address.

"I want a message to get out to everyone that you can't do this to people and get away with it. The judge sent a message that you can't violate anyone's rights because of their color, and if you do, you're going to get punished.

"I think (Mullins) really thought he was going to get away with it."

Doster saw Mullins' and his family in court, crying at the sentencing. But, she said if one of them had discouraged him from setting the fire, it never would have happened and they wouldn't have been sitting in court as he was sentenced.

Although it took nearly five years to convict the men who terrorized her family and forced them out of their house, Doster said she's happy with the law enforcement agencies that handled the case and she believes justice has been served.

"I call them my dream team — the FBI, U.S. attorneys," she said. "It took 4 1/2 years, but they did it.

"The FBI said it could take, a month, two years, 10 years, no matter how long it took, they were going to get the people that caused it, and they did."

Although she no longer lives in Taylor, Doster said she hopes the city will address the issue so it doesn't happen to another family.

Source: TheNewsHerald

Residents Rally For Peace After Racially Motivated Arsons

CLEVELAND -- A Cleveland neighborhood is set to come together Thursday night to show support for a family burned out of their home by arsonists.

Investigators are calling the fire a hate crime, and its one of two such arsons in the Tremont neighborhood.

Residents want to send a message tonight to whoever is behind the hateful acts, telling the arsonists that they won't win, reported NewsChannel5's John Kosich.

On July 31, Rogina Weakley awoke to find her West 12th Street home on fire. It took just seconds for the place to go up in flames.

"I looked out of this window and I saw a white T-shirt hanging … it was lit on fire but also the porch was lit on fire and you can see that it was all wet," said Weakley.

The wet stuff was an accelerant, and the fire was an arson. The home was destroyed.

A month earlier, Vanessa Glover's garage had been spray painted with racial graffiti. When the graffiti was painted over, the garage was also set on fire.

"So someone has a problem, a very big one, and I wish they'd hurry up and catch them because I'm scared that it's going to happen again," said Glover.

Two weeks ago, community leaders met with Weakley and Glover. The police commander assured them that the city was doing whatever it takes to catch those responsible, but in doing so, they laid the groundwork for Thursday's Walk For Unity.

"The outrage has been extreme that anybody would do this to these two families, and so it's been interesting. What has been a real crisis seems to be something that the neighborhood is now saying, 'We have to build around this thing,'" said Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman.

The Tremont Unite vigil gets under way at 7 p.m. Thursday. The walk will go from West 11th Street and Starkweather Avenue to West 12th Street and Mentor, where there will be a community peace vigil at 7: 15 p.m.

Source: NewsNet5

Driver assaults man in racial attack

By Erin Smith/Chronicle Staff
GateHouse News Service

Cambridge -

An irate driver slammed a Cambridge man’s arm in his car door and tried to pull him from his car in what police suspect was a racially motivated attack in Inman Square.

As the suspect fled to his car after the attack, one woman in his car allegedly yelled, “9/11 [expletive],” while the suspect allegedly screamed, “That’s what you get for marrying a foreigner,” according to police reports. The driver was with three females, who police say were likely his wife and daughters.

Police said the 40-year-old victim’s complexion is similar to a person of Middle Eastern descent and the victim told police he thought he was attacked because of his ethnic background.

The victim told police he was walking across a city parking lot on Springfield Street Aug. 27 at 8:15 p.m. when the suspect’s gray 2007 GMC Yukon sped into the lot, nearly hitting him, according to police reports.

The victim later saw the driver walk into the Ole Mexican Grill at 11 Springfield St., where the victim was dining with his wife, police said. After they finished their meal and left the restaurant, the victim placed a written note on the windshield of the gray SUV asking the driver to slow down and use more caution, according to reports.

As the victim was getting into his car, the suspect approached him, asked if he had put a note on his car, crumbled the note and threw it on the ground, police said. The suspect began screaming, allegedly opened the victim’s car door and then slammed the car door shut on the victim’s arm, according to police reports.

The suspect then reopened the victim’s door, grabbed hold of his left arm and forcefully pulled the victim partially out of the car, according to police. The suspect only fled back to his own car after the victim’s wife called police. As the suspect drove out of the parking lot, turning right on Springfield Street, he allegedly threw a brown glass bottle out of the window, which shattered in the road, police said.

A waiter at Ole Mexican Grill told police the suspect drank two alcoholic drinks at the restaurant prior to the attack.

Police suspect a 55-year-old Plainville man in the attack but no arrests had been made in the case as of Friday.

Source: TownOnline

Authorities worry about increased hate crimes

By Tony Manolatos

September 2, 2007

LAKESIDE – The first of three brutal attacks occurred at a roadside bar called Don's Cocktail Lounge off the Highway 8 business route.

A white man with a swastika tattooed on his chest sucker-punched a black man who had stepped outside to have a cigarette. The victim, who suffered severe brain damage, can barely speak now.

About a month after the July 7 attack, a pair of skinheads beat up two black men, one of them a Marine, at a gas station. A week later, two skinheads attacked a Latino laborer outside a liquor store.

All three assaults happened in Lakeside, a rural community about 20 miles east of San Diego that has tried for years to shake its reputation as a haven for hate.

Investigators are uncertain if the beatings were related. They are sure of one thing – they were meant to send a message:

“ 'Be afraid. We're there, and we're going to come after you,' ” sheriff's Detective Ellen Vest said. “It's a growing problem throughout East County.”

Deputy Bo Roberson, who patrols the streets of Santee in search of white gangsters as part of a special task force, put it this way: “We've definitely been seeing a rise in stuff, especially since the Don's Cocktail incident.”

Sparked by complaints from residents, along with a rise in such things as racist graffiti and children wearing white supremacist garb, the Sheriff's Department partnered with El Cajon police and other law enforcement agencies last year to form the East County Regional Gang Task Force.

Thanks in part to a $430,000 annual subsidy from the city of Santee, the task force works hand-in-hand with a three-person gang-suppression team that tracks down suspects and reluctant witnesses. Similar teams operate in La Mesa, El Cajon and Lemon Grove.

Unjustly or not, swaths of rural East County have long had a reputation as an enclave for bigots. But as the suburban population has grown, the area has undergone great change.

Still, authorities say, white supremacist groups continue to thrive.

Gang members are recruiting teens in parks and at schools. Many now dress alike, even wearing boots with soles that leave swastikas in the dirt, authorities said. A hate anthem called “East County Stand Up” was recently posted on the MySpace page belonging to a young Lakeside man.

History of incidents
Several parts of Lakeside feel dusty and isolated. With newer homes and shopping centers, neighboring Santee seems more suburban.

Blacks make up 2 percent of the population in both towns.

Last year, a gay rodeo in Lakeside drew fierce objections from some locals. Less than two years ago, two skinheads were convicted of beating up a Latino man in a Santee park.

There have been other incidents. Some have made national news, including the 1998 beating of a black Marine in Santee. Four men confessed to the assault, which paralyzed the Marine.

Concerned with the city's racist reputation, Santee City Manager Keith Till met with sheriff's officials to get a rundown on hate crimes a month after beginning his job.

That was seven years ago, and Till decided to work with local schools to promote acceptance and diversity, an ongoing effort. “It became evident that it was in the community's interest to address this pretty aggressively,” he said.

Till said he quickly realized that groups of students, mostly high school boys, were not only ignoring the message, but also “they were congregating, and their message seemed to focus on hate.”

“But the problem here pales in comparison from what you see in many, many communities . . . We're getting in at the early end to make sure” gangs don't become an overwhelming problem. “We have one of the lower crime rates in San Diego County, and we want to maintain that.”

Donald Hamer would be the first to tell you Santee is safer than it was. Hamer, who is black, heads the Human Relations Advisory Board of Santee, formed six years ago to review hate crimes and discrimination complaints.

“For sure, there's been a stepping up in East County to try and get rid of this problem,” Hamer said.

Clayton Davis and his wife, Kim, live in Blossom Valley, about four miles north of Don's Cocktail Lounge. To them, race isn't a bigger problem here than anywhere else.

“There's bad apples out here, but you got bad apples wherever you go,” said Clayton Davis, a composite technician.

Eric Powell, a 40-year-old engineer who is black, moved to Santee from the east San Diego neighborhood of San Carlos a year ago because of a deal he and his wife got on a four-bedroom home. They're not sure they will stay.

No one has given Powell any trouble, he said, but his 15-year-old daughter has “heard some things.”

“I think a more diverse neighborhood would be better, but we couldn't pass up the deal,” said Powell, who grew up in southeastern San Diego. “The worst thing for me is I know the history of this place, so it keeps me on edge, and I don't want to live like that.”

'The least successful'
Across the country, skinheads and hate crimes typically turn up in poorer communities with conservative beliefs, experts observe.

“You're not going to find skinheads in La Jolla,” said Malcolm Klein, a sociology professor at the University of Southern California and one of the nation's leading gang experts.

Klein said white supremacy is usually picked up at home.

“These are the kids whose parents aren't doing very well,” he said. “They're the kids not doing well in schools. They're the least successful of the unsuccessful.”

Figuring out who the gangsters are and what they're up to falls to investigators such as Vest and her partner, Marilu Marcq. They and others work to identify and track gangsters, or document them, a process designed to strengthen prosecutions and clean up communities.

During the past two years, Vest and Marcq have documented four gangs, all white, based in East County. They're working to document at least five more.

Only one white gang, based in Lakeside, had been documented in San Diego County when they started, and that was six years ago.

Marcq said there are more than a dozen white gangs claiming hundreds of members in East County – small numbers when stacked next to the dozens of gangs and thousands of members in San Diego, for example.

“These are dangerous individuals, and they have no fear at all,” Marcq said.

Incomplete statistics
In the communities that the Sheriff's Department patrols, more than a third of the hate crimes reported in the past 3½ years were in Lakeside, Santee and unincorporated areas of El Cajon.

But the statistics don't paint a complete picture because not all hate crimes are classified as such. A beating motivated by hate, for example, can be classified as an assault. On the other hand, some cases likely wouldn't have surfaced if not for the additional enforcement in place.

Statistics mean little to the 44-year-old machinist who was knocked out at Don's Cocktail Lounge.

He was standing just outside the bar with another patron when Timothy Caban walked toward him, ripped off his T-shirt and threw a vicious uppercut, Vest said. The man's head snapped back and slammed into the pavement.

A few weeks ago he was moved from a hospital to a rehabilitation center. No matter what question he's asked, he answers by saying his name.

Caban, 40, of Lakeside, is scheduled to stand trial next month. His attorney said he was acting in self-defense.

Don McGourty, who tends bar at Don's, described the victim as an affable guy who loved to sing karaoke.

“He was a sweetheart, and I don't say that about too many guys, especially around here,” said McGourty, a 40-year resident of Lakeside. “I know this area is known for this sort of thing, but we don't have stuff like that” at Don's.

As Vest and Marcq looked into Caban's background – they haven't linked him to a gang – they learned that he and his buddies had been kicked out of more than half a dozen bars in the area. The men were forced to leave one bar on April 20 because they were singing “Happy Birthday” to Adolf Hitler.

Tony Manolatos: (619) 542-4559;

Source: SignOnSanDiego