Thursday, April 24, 2008

Officials call school attack a hate crime

By Melissa Pinion-Whitt, Wes Woods II and Tania Chatila, Staff Writers
Article Launched: 04/23/2008 11:18:52 PM PDT

SAN DIMAS - An Asian man was stabbed in the face and torso in an attack at Lone Hill Middle School on Tuesday night that sheriff's officials called a hate crime.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies said the attackers - a 15-year-old boy and a man in his 20s - shouted racial epithets while stabbing the man with a knife.

"They were shouting out `white power' or something like that," said sheriff's Lt. Roxanne Hart.

A white man who was walking with the 22-year-old victim at the school at 700 S. Lone Hill Ave. about 8:30 p.m. received cuts and bruises from being punched by the pair, Hart said.

Paramedics flew the Asian man to Los Angeles County- USC Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition Tuesday.

Deputies identified the 15-year-old suspect and arrested him. The second suspect was not in custody as of Wednesday evening, Hart said.

Hart could not confirm whether the attackers were members of a white supremacist group, but did say the sheriff's hate crimes task force is investigating.

"Hate crimes are definitely rare in our area," she said.

On Wednesday, officials from human rights groups also called the incident unusual.

"The stabbing in the face in San Dimas last night is pretty out of the ordinary," said Marshall Wong, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission.

In regard to violent attacks against Asians in L.A. County, Wong said in 2007 there was just one attempted murder as a hate crime committed against an Asian male.

"The only thing we had reported in San Dimas was an annoying phone call last year," Wong said.

The victim's ethnicity was not available Wednesday.

Lone Hill Principal Ray Arredondo said officials were not on campus when the attack occurred in a grassy area of the school grounds when the facility was closed.

"We will heighten security on campus just to make sure we have a peaceful day on campus," Arredondo said on Wednesday.

Melissa Smith, Bonita Unified School District's student support services director, said called the attack a "community incident, not a school-related incident."

"It's not something we're investigating because it wasn't part of a school event or district event," Smith said. "It's business as usual - the focus is on instruction and we have all the regular staff in place and all the regular kids in place."

Earlier this month, two men were sentenced to double-digit prison sentences for stabbing a black man in Claremont a year and half ago. Ryan Christopher White, 30, of Joshua Tree is to serve 13 years while Anthony Scott Allen, 24, of Big Bear City is to serve 10 years. Joseph Dale McCool, 21, of Redlands is awaiting sentencing.

The three men had planned to attend a white supremacist rally and passed through Claremont when they stabbed the victim in December 2006, officials said.

Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., said academic studies show less than 5percent of hate crimes are committed by hate groups.

"It's much more likely to be an everyday person than a member of a white supremacist group," Potok said Wednesday.

Karin Wang, vice president of programs for the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles, said hate crimes against Asians have "historically spiked" based on current events. She was not familiar with the San Dimas incident.

Wong said after the Virginia Tech shooting committed by a Korean in 2007, there were hate crimes reported against Koreans in Los Angeles within a few days.

"But overall hate crimes targeting Asians tend to be acts of vandalism and criminal threats," Wong said.

Wang said her organization often takes calls from people who feel they've been harassed, assaulted or had their homes vandalized because of their race. She said there has been an increase of calls from the Inland Empire.

Wang said Asian families in the Inland Empire can be isolated, living farther away from larger pockets of Asians, which could cause the harassment.

tania.chatila@sgvn.com

(626) 962-8811, Ext. 2109

Source: PasadenaStarNews

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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