Saturday, January 31, 2009

BART officer, Mehserle Could be Out on Bail by End of Day

Mehserle Has Not Posted Bail, Still in Jail

Mehserle must pay 10% of $3 million bail amount

NBC Bay Area has learned that Johannes Mehserle has not yet been released from jail and must pay 10 percent of the $3 million bail amount in order to be released.

Protestors took to the streets in frustration the decision. Dozens of armed police and protesters clashed.

The incident has outraged residents and led to protests. Another rally took place on Friday. People began showing up at the courthouse by mid-morning Friday. By early afternoon, dozens of protesters had gathered. They marched in the afternoon hours throughout downtown Oakland, shutting down the intersection at 14th and Broadway. The protesters were peaceful.

Pictures: BART Protestors Tell Their Own Story

Aerial video showed police using canisters of tear gas at one point during one demonstration. At least 80 officers wearing riot gear were on the scene.

BART officials closed one of the stations due to one of the civil disturbances. The BART station at 12th Street near the Oakland City Center was eventually reopened.

Click here to see Mehserle's motion for bail (PDF)

The transit officer who shot and killed an unarmed man may have also mistakenly pulled his service pistol instead of a stun gun, according to documents filed by his lawyer Friday that offer the first glimpse at his defense.

Attorney Michael Rains made the argument Friday in urging a judge to grant bail to 27-year-old Mehserle. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson heard the motion in an afternoon hearing.

"He fired the taser, or so he thought," said Rains. "the taser he had been trained on three weeks earlier for six hours. That was the taser he fired."

Mehserle has pleaded not guilty to one count of murder in the death of 22-year-old Oscar Grant, who was killed early New Year's Day. Cell phone videos of the incident, widely viewed on the Internet, show the officer standing over Grant as he was lying facedown on a train platform and firing one shot into the man's back.

Grant died of the gunshot wound to his torso.

"(Mehserle) chose to use lethal force when it clearly was not called for," said Jacobson.

But in a court filing Friday, Rains said witness accounts indicate that Mehserle meant to draw his Taser, but instead pulled his pistol. The lawyer blamed inexperience by the young officer, who passed his Taser user certification test on Dec. 3.

"The bulk of the discovery, including witness and officer statements, seem to indicate that this young officer, who carried a taser for only a few shifts prior to this event, may have mistakenly deployed his service pistol rather than his taser, thus negating any criminal intent," Rains wrote.

The court documents contain statements from and reports by several officers who were on the platform with Mehserle at the time of the shooting. The officers -- who had just pulled several men, including Grant, from a Bay Area Rapid Transit train after reports of fighting -- described the scene as chaotic and confusing.

According to a statement from Officer Tony Pirone, Mehserle told Grant to stop resisting and put his hands behind his back. Then, according to Pirone's statement, Mehserle said: "I'm going to tase him, I'm going to tase him. I can't get his arms. He won't give me his arms. His hands are going for his waistband."

Mehserle then told Pirone to move, before firing the shot.

Pirone said he didn't know if Grant was armed, but said Mehserle told him he had believed Grant may have been armed.

"Tony, I thought he was going for a gun," Mehserle said, according to Pirone's statement.

Tensions High in and out of Courtroom

Tensions were described as "high" in the courtroom and outside on Friday.

Family members of the man who died, Oscar Grant III, say they will be outraged if Mehserle is released. Here is a portion of the statement that the family released:

"We have received may letters, cards, flowers and contributions to Oscar Grant's daughter, Tatiana Grant. There were many letters from a wonderful range of supporters who have asked, "Where and how to donate to Tatiana's Trust Fund?". Again we say thank you for all the support and contributions. We believe Oscar Grant did not die in vain. This is the beginning of a new day in our communities."

The family asked that information regarding the trust fund be made public. Here it is:

Tatiana Grant Trust Fund
Acct # 3879027641
Wells Fargo Bank, 950 Southland Dr. Hayward 94545

Security had been heightened around the courthouse. Officials restricted access to the hearing to a handful of media and a few of Grant and Mehserle's family and friends. Only seven reporters were granted access to the courtroom.

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums released the following statement about the decision to grant bail to Mehserle:

"This afternoon, Johannes Mehserle posted bail and was released from jail. Under the United States judicial system, bail is almost always granted unless a defendant is viewed to be a flight risk. The judicial system is a separate branch of government from the City of Oakland, and one over which I, as the Mayor, have no control. The important thing to remember is that the wheels of justice are now in motion. Johannes Meslerle was charged with murder. He will receive due process under the law, and this process will run its course. In the meantime, I am calling for peace in our streets. We must treat each other and our city with respect and dignity while the outcome of this case is determined by judge and jury. We are one community, and we must come together to call for justice and act in a nonviolent and respectful manner so our voices may be heard."

On Thursday, BART officials announced the agency is turning over its internal affairs investigation of officers involved in the New Year's Day fatal shooting of Oscar Grant III to an independent third party.

"It's imperative that we determine whether the actions of those officers on the platform violated the policies and practices of the BART Police Department," BART board member Carole Ward Allen, who chairs the new BART police review committee, said in a statement.

Ward Allen said the board hoped "an independent, outside investigation" would reassure the public "that we are transparent and accountable."

The internal affairs investigation is separate from the criminal investigation being conducted by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office on the former BART officer.

In addition to the third-party internal affairs investigation, BART officials said today they were also turning over a "top-to-bottom" review of BART police policies and procedures to third-party experts in the law enforcement field.

BART has not yet determined which groups will conduct those investigations, officials said.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Sen. McConnell: GOP risks becoming a regional minority party

Sen. McConnell: GOP risks becoming a regional minority party

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a blunt warning to Republicans Thursday: Their party must regain lost supporters plus blacks, Hispanics and voters on both coasts — or risk becoming a permanent minority party with a limited power base.

“We’re all concerned about the fact that the very wealthy and the very poor, the most and least educated, and a majority of minority voters, seem to have more or less stopped paying attention to us,” McConnell said in a speech at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting. “And we should be concerned that, as a result of all this, the Republican Party seems to be slipping into a position of being more of a regional party than a national one.”

In stark terms, the Kentucky Republican added: “In politics, there’s a name for a regional party: It’s called a minority party. ... As Republicans, we know that common-sense conservative principles aren’t regional. But I think we have to admit that our sales job has been.

“And in my view, that needs to change,” he said.

McConnell said that, when he was first elected in 1984, there were GOP governors on both coasts, nearly every state had a Republican senator and Ronald Reagan won 49 of 50 states.

“A lot has changed since then,” he said, pointing to “worrisome signs,” including that every member of the House from New England is a Democrat, and that “you can walk from Canada to Mexico and from Maine to Arizona without ever leaving a state with a Democratic governor.”

As he did in a speech at the National Press Club last week, McConnell placed part of the blame on President Bush. In that speech, he outlined his path to a “post-partisan” era and said both sides should reject their party’s extremes and govern from the middle. That talk was designed to some extent to recast his party as eager to solve the country’s problems rather to obstruct the Democrats’ agenda.

But his speech on Thursday injected fresh views into the ongoing debate within the GOP over how to move forward after two disastrous elections. McConnell sought to instill a sense of urgency into his party, but said the situation is “far from irreversible.”

McConnell said Republicans need to sell their core principles to voters who’ve left the party by better explaining their ideas and the “practical benefits they promise for people of every class or race in every corner of the country.” He said the party needs to attract black voters after Democrats pulled in 96 percent of that voting bloc in November, and he called on the GOP to aggressively court Hispanics, who will constitute one-fifth of all voters by 2020.

“The future of campaigns and elections depends, for both parties, on the ability to attract voters from the Hispanic community,” McConnell said. “This is particularly true for us, since Hispanic growth is even more dramatic in regions where we do best.” He said that nearly 80 percent of Hispanic voters oppose abortion, in line with a bedrock GOP position.

McConnell called on the GOP to push back against labels that have hurt the party in the past — anti-immigrant, anti-union and anti-environment — and to regain taxpayers’ trust that they support limited government spending.

“Too often we’ve let others define us,” McConnell said. “And the image they’ve painted isn’t very pretty.”

He also said that “blaming the media isn’t a strategy for success,” likening it to blaming a referee for losing a game. But he said that the party should push back aggressively when “Democrat ideas fall short.”

“We’ll point it out when Democrats attempt to undermine or reverse successful terror-fighting policies that have kept us safe since 9/11,” he said. “We’ll point it out when they try to tax and spend our way to prosperity. We’ll point it out every time they do the bidding of the trial lawyers and Big Labor bosses. And we’ll point it out every time they claim to solve a problem they’ve really only put off — as they did just last week on Guantanamo Bay.”


Controversial Sheriff Speaks At Hate Group Function

A Nashville sheriff who’s been criticized for his crackdown on undocumented immigrants recently spoke at a white supremacist gathering.

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall addressed the Middle Tennessee chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a white nationalist hate group, at a dinner meeting last Nov. 22. Descended from the pro-segregationist White Citizens’ Councils (also known as the uptown Klan), the CCC has described blacks as a “retrograde species of humanity” and “genetically inferior,” compared pop singer Michael Jackson to an ape, and condemned “race-mixing.”

Hall’s appearance at the Middle Tennessee CCC meeting was reported in the latest issue of the Citizens Informer, the CCC’s in-house publication. “The meeting drew the largest attendance in 12 years, with many youth in attendance,” the newsletter noted.

Karla Weikal, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said the Middle Tennessee CCC asked Hall to talk to the group about his immigration enforcement program. She said Hall often speaks to private groups about issues related to the sheriff’s office and was not aware of the CCC’s racist beliefs. “Those views would certainly not be views that Sheriff Hall would support. Absolutely not,” Weikal said. “He went before that group to provide information about a program that the sheriff’s office participates in. Period. It was not an endorsement of this organization.”

But critics of the sheriff’s handling of immigration enforcement said Hall should have known better. “I am shocked that he would appear before such a group,” said Nashville immigration lawyer Elliott Ozment. “Any claim that he might make that he did not know the nature of this group is really no excuse. He has staff that should be checking out these things.”

Fellow Nashville immigration attorney Mario Ramos agreed. “For Sheriff Hall to be speaking in front of a hate group shows a severe lack of judgment,” he said. “I think the citizens of Nashville will be outraged that he spoke before this kind of group.” As for the sheriff’s professed ignorance of the group’s ideology, Ramos said, “It’s hard to believe [the sheriff’s office] is that naïve or unprofessional. You’d imagine they’d do their homework.”

Indeed, if Hall had merely typed “Council of Conservative Citizens” into the Internet search engine Google, the top result would have been the CCC’s web address and site description, which reads, “Advocating against minorities and racial integration.” The website proclaims that the CCC “oppose[s] all efforts to mix the races of mankind.” Along with ads for white pride T-shirts, the group’s homepage features numerous articles from its “news team” linking blacks to violent crime.

The group has also flirted increasingly with anti-Semitism in recent years; after Pope Benedict XVI provoked an outcry last week by revoking the excommunication of schismatic bishop Richard Williamson — who claimed no more than 300,000 Jews died in the Holocaust, none of them in gas chambers — the CCC asserted on its website that Williamson was not a Holocaust denier: “He has simply stated that the numbers [sic] of Jewish deaths have been exaggerated for political reasons.”

The CCC isn’t fond of non-white immigrants, either. It has accused them of turning America into “a slimy brown mass of glop.”

Hall, who became sheriff in 2002, has drawn fire for his immigration enforcement strategy. Since 2007, the county has participated in 287G, a program that gives local agencies limited authority to enforce federal immigration law. After a drunken driver — who was also an undocumented immigrant with a lengthy criminal history — killed a husband and wife in 2006, Hall wrote a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement asking to take part in the program. Hall said it would allow the county to target undocumented immigrants who are dangerous offenders.

But immigrant rights activists say that hasn’t happened. Instead, of the nearly 3,000 people arrested during the program’s first year, half were nabbed for minor traffic violations such as driving without a license, according to an April 2008 analysis by The Tennessean. Last July, a pregnant woman who had been arrested for careless driving was chained to a hospital bed as she gave birth. Juana Villegas’ story was featured prominently in The New York Times. (The sheriff later announced that pregnant women would no longer be shackled unless they posed a clear risk to themselves or others, The Tennessean reported.)

Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Weikal defended the immigration enforcement program, saying that Nashville police make all the arrests and that the sheriff’s office merely screens those who are foreign-born.

But Ozment, who represents Villegas, said he wasn’t surprised that the CCC wanted to know more about 287G. Both Ozment and Gregg Ramos, a Nashville attorney and civil rights advocate (no relation to Mario Ramos), said the program’s implementation in Davidson County has led to racial profiling of Hispanics. “It is open season on Hispanics in Nashville now,” Ozment said. (Ozment previously served on a council formed to advise the sheriff on 287G, but Hall kicked him off after Ozment said publicly that the council played no meaningful role.)

Added Mario Ramos: “I’m left to wonder where else he [Hall] has spoken. If he feels this is where the audience is for 287G, what a sad comment on 287G.”


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Outrage After Wal-Mart Sells Racist Mexican Comic Books

A Mexican comic book containing a character that the White House once denounced as an offensive racial stereotype is again at the center of controversy after being sold at Houston-area Wal-Mart stores.

Shoppers are upset that the comics depicting Memin Pinguin, a black cartoon character drawn with exaggerated features, such as thick lips and wide-open eyes, are being sold near the African-American book section, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The cartoon character first made national headlines in 2005, when the Mexican government issued five stamps commemorating the character. His appearance, speech and mannerisms are the subject of kidding by white characters in the comic book.

Those postage stamps prompted then White House press secretary Scott McClellan to take the country to task.

"Racial stereotypes are offensive no matter what their origin," McClellan said in 2005. "The Mexican government needs to take this into account. Images like these have no place in today's world."

Houston shopper Shawnedria McGinty told the Chronicle that she asked a store manager to remove the comics when she saw them over the weekend. He complied.

"I said, wait a minute: Is this a monkey or a little black boy?" McGinty, 34, of Meyerland, Texas, told the paper. "I was so upset. This is 2008."

Another Houston resident, Quanell X, demanded Wal-Mart apologize for selling the books.

"Even Hispanics of conscious minds sense this is racist and that to sell this is totally unacceptable," he told the Chronicle. "It is a disgrace — it's an insult to all African-Americans."

A Wal-Mart spokesman told the paper that the comics were removed from one location, but wouldn't say if they'd be pulled from all stores.

"We will be evaluating the best course of action," said Phillip Keene, a company spokesman, told the paper.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Feds Accuse Latino Gang of Hate Crime Spree Against Black Americans

Federal prosecutors Tuesday accused members of a Latino street gang of a violent campaign to drive African American rivals out of their South Los Angeles area neighborhood, resulting in at least 20 killings in the last three years.

Capping an undercover investigation conducted over that period, authorities issued indictments that charged more than 60 members and associates of the Florencia 13 street gang with a long list of felonies. Prosecutors say the gang was trying to dominate the area’s drug trade as well as extort “rent” from prostitutes, vendors, drug dealers and others.

Much of the violence occurred in the Florence-Firestone neighborhood, a working-class unincorporated community of 60,000 north of Watts that went through a rapid shift in population starting in the 1980s. Once mostly black, the area is now home to many Mexican immigrants.

Officials said Latino gang leaders in recent years had sought to drive the remaining black gangs and their supporters from the neighborhood and had repeatedly ordered members to attack black rivals – in some cases shooting them on sight.

The indictment’s description of sustained, deadly racial gang fighting provides evidence of a type of violence that is often discussed but seldom documented. Homicide statistics indicate that the vast majority of killings take place within racial or ethnic groups.

Florence-Firestone, however, appears to have been a murderous exception. Killings in the neighborhood peaked in 2005, when 41 homicides sparked widespread community outcry. As violence rose, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department sent more than 60 additional deputies to the area and conducted several mass arrests aimed at reducing racial violence. The district attorney’s office devoted a special prosecutor to handle only Florence-Firestone homicides for two years.

Last year, homicides plummeted to 19.

Another piece of the stepped-up law enforcement effort was the undercover investigation. Officials said Tuesday that they had determined that 80 shootings since early 2005 had resulted from the gang violence.

In some cases, African Americans with no gang ties were caught up in the violence, prosecutors said. “In their attempt to intimidate African Americans in the community, they targeted innocent citizens,” said U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O’Brien.

In one instance, an African American couple were robbed at gunpoint by gang members who were trying to send a message, prosecutors say. In another, a man waiting at a Florence Avenue bus stop before work was critically injured in a drive-by shooting by Florencia members who apparently mistook him for a rival gang member, according to the indictments.

The gang would “target African American individuals for assault” and leaders made sure “that all the F13 cliques were participating in the assaults of African American rival gang members,” the indictments say.

Florence-Firestone is a collection of factories, stucco homes and mom-and-pop stores that has gone through dramatic demographic changes every 15 to 20 years since it formed in the early 1930s.

Poor Southern whites, middle-class blacks and poor Southern blacks have all entered Southern California via short stays in Florence-Firestone.

In the late 1980s, the neighborhood was about 80% African American. But most black residents have moved away. Today, the area is 90% Latino – mostly Mexican immigrants.

“The last five years has been the greatest influx” of Latinos, said Pastor Chris LeGrande of the Great Hope Fellowship of Faith on Compton Avenue, one of Florence-Firestone’s largest black churches.

African Americans and Latinos are often separated by language and culture, and frequently compete for the same jobs. The area has two parks: Washington Park is used mostly by blacks; Roosevelt Park to the north by Latinos.

“I think we adults have many problems in sympathizing with the other race,” said Gloria Medina, Spanish-language liaison for the Florence-Firestone Chamber of Commerce. “It’s not just the children; it’s that we’ve taught this to children… . [We] respect each other, but there’s not much closeness.”

Sheriff Lee Baca said Tuesday that Florencia’s violence was notable given the fact that gang violence in Los Angeles in general has been dropping in the last few years. In Los Angeles, homicides overall so far this year are declining to levels not seen since the early 1970s.

Authorities this year have vowed to focus more attention on race-motivated crimes involving gangs. The push started after a 14-year-old black girl was shot and killed last year, allegedly by members of a Latino gang, in the Harbor Gateway section of Los Angeles.

Last year, members of the Latino Avenues gang were convicted in federal court for a series of assaults and killings in the early 1990s targeting blacks in Highland Park.

Researchers who study homicides say, however, that such killings are unusual. A recent study by researchers at UC Irvine used data from the four precincts of the LAPD’s South Bureau on homicides between 2000 and 2006 and found that black offenders were nearly eight times more likely to kill another black person than to kill a Latino, and Latino offenders were nearly twice as likely to kill another Latino.

A Times analysis of crime data earlier this year found that the vast majority of violent crimes in the city of Los Angeles involved assailants and victims of the same race. Last year, there were more than 2,700 black-on-black or Latino-on-Latino incidents, compared with slightly more than 500 interracial attacks.

The indictments unveiled Tuesday charged 61 Florencia gang members and associates with a variety of felonies, including weapons violations, drug sales and conspiracy to commit murder. More than a dozen of the suspects were in custody on earlier charges, and 11 defendants are still at large. Many charges give prosecutors the option to pursue hate-crime charges once the cases go to court, which would allow stiffer penalties.

Despite the gang tensions, many in Florence-Firestone say residents of different races get along for the most part and see a common enemy in the criminals.

But LeGrande, the pastor, said some residents worried that the thugs would widen their war beyond other gangs.

“At one time parents would say, ‘Stay away from the gang and we’ll be OK,” he said. “Now you don’t have to be in a gang.”


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

ACLU files class action lawsuit against Weld Sheriff, DA

The American Civil Liberties Union has made good on its threat to file a lawsuit against Weld County Sheriff John Cooke and Weld District Attorney Ken Buck, alleging the campaign to arrest illegal immigrants for identity theft violated privacy laws.

In a class action lawsuit filed in state district court on Monday night, the ACLU of Colorado argued that Cooke and Buck are violating the privacy rights of thousands of law-abiding taxpayers by keeping copies of confidential information obtained in an illegal search of Amalia’s Translation and Tax Service in Greeley last fall, according to a prepared release.

“The search violated the privacy rights of thousands of innocent taxpayers who are not suspected of any wrongdoing,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU legal director, in the release. “If the sheriff and the district attorney can comb through all the many thousands of records of a tax preparer on the theory that some of the clients are doing something wrong, then none of our private information is safe.”

The defendants in the case — who authorities have said used false or stolen Social Security numbers to work in Weld County, then obtained tax returns as illegal immigrants — are slowly being arrested for criminal impersonation or identity theft in the investigation. Buck and Cooke say they have identified roughly 1,300 suspects.

Officials got a search warrant to review tax filings from 2006-07 that contained a special IRS number called an ITIN, which is issued only to non-residents for purposes of filing income taxes.

Silverstein said that search amounted to a fishing expedition, which is prohibited by law. He likened the search to that of a search for any criminal activity in an apartment building, then rummaging through each apartment to find a crime.

For more on this story, see Wednesday's Tribune.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Confessions of a Former Anti-Immigrant Fanatic

Minuteman tries to "educate" 2 college students but backfires

What FOX doesn't want to show you about Sheriff Joe Arpaio's new TV show "Smile... You're Under Arrest!"

Sheriff Joe Arpaio loves his new reality show, "Smile ... You're Under Arrest!" He claims it's "a great merge of entertainment along with law enforcement." … a humorous cross between "Punked" and "Cops."

Perhaps Fox would like to show this really hysterical clip from a recent episode of the real-life Sheriff Joe show.

What could be more entertaining than watching two small children cry as their mother is taken away forever because she has a broken headlight and an un-paid traffic ticket?

What could be funnier than watching them clutch the stuffed animals that sheriff's trade for their mother in an attempt to quite them down?

What could be more humorous than the fear and horror on their faces as they plead to be returned to her?

Come on FOX, this is the real "reality" of Joe Arpaio. This is what goes on day after day for those who are forced to live in Joe's reality.

Show this video to the American public. Let them see the true face of "America's toughest sheriff"

Come on, don't you think they'd be rolling in the aisles over the funny antics of this modern day Bull Connor.

Source: MigraMatters

Thursday, January 22, 2009

American Legion Deletes Some Immigrant-Bashing Myths, Repeats Others, In ‘Updated’ Report

More than eight months after promoting nativist falsehoods in a booklet about illegal immigration, the American Legion has discreetly removed the most egregious inaccuracies from an updated version of its report.

But America’s largest veterans group has failed to publicly acknowledge the errors, which Hatewatch detailed last July. Furthermore, the new edition of the report continues to perpetuate derogatory myths about undocumented immigrants. “The security, economy and social fabric of the United States of America is [sic] seriously threatened by individuals who are illegally in this country,” the booklet states.

The legion first released A Strategy to Address Illegal Immigration in the United States last April 28. Two months later, the legion announced the booklet was “being updated” after two organizations — the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the American GI Forum, a Hispanic veterans group — repeatedly expressed concerns. Nonetheless, in an October 2008 letter to the editor of the Intelligence Report, legion Commander Dave Rehbein dismissed the Intelligence Report’s debunking of factual errors in the booklet, arguing they merely reflected differing “perspectives” on immigration.

But that doesn’t explain why six statements the Intelligence Report identified as false disappeared from the updated booklet, which was released last week on the legion’s website.

For instance, the report no longer contends that “non-citizens make up fully 30% of the American prison population.” (The real number is roughly 6%.) Nor does it falsely claim that undocumented immigrants infected 7,000 people in this country with leprosy during a recent three-year period. (The actual figure of all leprosy cases in the U.S. during that time is about 400, and it’s unknown how many were attributable to immigrants, undocumented or otherwise.) Also gone is the assertion — for which the original report provided no source — that “more Americans are killed by illegal aliens than died in the Iraq War.”

The “updated” report also asserts at the outset that its opposition to illegal immigration is not based on race, religion or nationality.

Despite these changes, the booklet still presents a misleading and defamatory portrait of undocumented immigrants.

For its information, the legion relies heavily on the Federation for American Immigration Reform — which the SPLC lists as a hate group in part because of its ties to white supremacists — and the Center for Immigration Studies, an anti-immigration think tank.

Among other myths, the legion booklet still claims that:

• “By failing to assimilate into our culture [undocumented immigrants] divide America into ethnic enclaves.” In fact, a recent study by the Manhattan Institute found that today’s foreign-born, while currently less assimilated than their counterparts of 100 years ago, are in fact assimilating at a faster rate than those earlier newcomers.

• “Illegals cost Americans jobs.” A 2006 Pew Hispanic Center study found that, overall, large increases in states’ immigrant population did not correspond with more unemployment for their native-born workers. Most scholars have failed to find a link between immigration and job loss.

• Undocumented immigrants cause “an enormous drain on public services.” Actually, undocumented immigrants are barred from receiving most forms of public assistance, besides public school education and emergency medical care. They also pay taxes, including sales taxes, and often, through phony Social Security cards, payroll taxes. In 2005, The New York Times reported that undocumented immigrants contribute some $7 billion a year to the Social Security system they will never be able to claim.

Several of the American Legion’s state chapters and local posts are allied with hardliner nativist groups. The California branch of the American Legion recently joined hate groups and nativist extremist organizations in a coalition that seeks to force “illegal alien birth mothers” to obtain special birth certificates. The coalition, Taxpayer’s Revolution, argues that ending the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of citizenship to anyone born in the United States is “critical toward reducing the crime problem.”

Last August, a Colorado American Legion post hosted a three-day “national security convention” devoted entirely to illegal immigration. The speakers included Glenn Spencer, leader of the hate groups American Patrol and American Border Patrol, who wrote in a 1996 letter to the Los Angeles Times that “Mexican culture is based on deceit” and “Chicanos and Mexicanos lie as a means of survival.”

Sunday, January 18, 2009

White supremacists under the scanner ahead of Obama swearing

White supremacists across the United States are closely being watched by hate crimes experts and law enforcement officials as Barack Obama prepares to be sworn in as the first Black president of the United States next week.

Washington, Jan 17 : White supremacists across the United States are closely being watched by hate crimes experts and law enforcement officials as Barack Obama prepares to be sworn in as the first Black president of the United States next week.

So far, there is no known organized effort to express opposition to Obama's rise to the presidency -- other than a call by the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan for its members to wear black armbands and fly the US flag upside down on Inauguration Day and Obama's first full day in office, the Daily News reported.

"The level of vitriol, I expect, will go up a bit more around inauguration time," said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino.

There "is concern" about White supremacist groups during the inauguration, said Joe Persichini, the assistant FBI director who is helping to oversee security during the inauguration.

The inauguration of the nation's first minority president increases any potential threat, "particularly stemming from individuals on the extremist fringe of the white supremacist movement," said a recent intelligence assessment by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.

But law enforcement has the appropriate resources to respond if needed, Persichini said. "We have seen a lot of chatter. We have seen a lot of discussions," he said.

"We have seen some information via the Internet. But those are discussions. We look at the vulnerabilities and whether or not the groups are taking action. You have freedom of speech," he added.

Anger, violence and interest in racist ideology did increase in the hours and days after Obama was elected president in November, hate groups experts said.

Three New York men were indicted on charges of conspiracy to interfere with voting rights -- accused of targeting and attacking African-Americans in a brutal crime spree soon after Obama was declared the winner on November 4.


Barack Obama protected by five tons of armour

Barack Obama will be protected by five tons of "transparent armour" at his swearing-in, amid unprecedented security for a presidential inauguration.

By Alex Spillius
Last Updated: 6:41PM GMT 18 Jan 2009

The bulletproof "glass" is actually a plastic compound that can resist repeated gunfire and grenades, and it will flank the new president when he addresses a vast audience from the steps of the Capitol.

It has been used for his outdoor speeches since winning the election, and most recently in Baltimore on his train ride to the capital.

Though no specific threat has been detected, since the election of the first African-American the "chatter" on white supremacist websites has increased, along with the number of threats that require investigation, according to security officials.

More than 23,000 police and reservist troops will be part of a security cordon that will include armed water patrols, helicopters and fighter jets.

Yesterday he took his first public ride in the new presidential limousine, an armoured Cadillac with the number plate "44" for his numerical ranking in the list of presidents.

He will use the vehicle, nicknamed the Beast, on the 1.7 mile journey from the Capitol along the parade route to the White House. It reportedly has an eight inch thick body, tear-gas cannons and inner Kevlar tyres that keep moving after a burst.


Threats Against Obama Growing as Inauguration Nears

With the Tuesday inauguration of Barack Obama drawing nearer by the hour, threats against the first black man to be elected U.S. president are growing more heated.

On Friday, neo-Nazi threatmeister Hal Turner, amplifying on an earlier posting suggesting that it would be a good thing to use an unmanned drone carrying explosives to attack inaugural crowds, said a mass murder of those attending the festivities “would be a public service.” “I won’t say what may happen Tuesday but I will say this,” Turner wrote on his blog. “After Tuesday, the name Hal Turner may live in infamy. Let it be known that I saw what was necessary and decided to do what had to be done. I make no apology to those affected or their families.”

Earlier, on Jan. 11, Turner had posted photos to his blog, under the headline “My Inauguration Dream,” of a small, unmanned aerial drone, an electronic guidance system and sticks of dynamite as he laid out one method of attack. He also discussed the possibility of sending up balloons filled with helium and a “payload” and fitted with fuses that would explode the balloons over the crowds. And he displayed a grainy video that purported to show that method being tested. “Too far fetched?” Turner asks of a possible balloon attack. “It got tested and it worked! … Watch the video and imagine what payload, other than the index cards taped to the outside of the test balloons, might be substituted? HMMMMMM. Might be something messy? Something contagious? Something deadly? Ahhhh, such possibilities!” Then, last Thursday, he posted an update, saying: “All the assets that need to be in-place for next week are now in-place; deep within the security perimeter. Everything is a ‘go.’ We have crossed the Rubicon; let history judge us well.”

Turner, a North Bergen, N.J., man who in years past has been paid as an FBI informant even while making threats over the Internet (a relationship that ended after it was revealed on this blog and harshly criticized by law enforcement experts), said the attacks were deserved because of a whole series of government misdeeds. He added that it would be “a public service” to kill African Americans (“sub-human simians”) and white people (“mentally-ill Whites”) who attend the festivities. “Wouldn’t it be a great day for American and the world to see our federal government dealt with in such a fashion?” Turner asked. “Stay tuned…..”

Also on Friday, federal authorities arrested a Wisconsin man for threatening to assassinate Obama in a posting to an Internet site about UFOs and extraterrestrial aliens. Steven Joseph Christopher, 42, was arrested in Brookhaven, Miss., because of a Jan. 11 posting that read: “Yes, I have decided I will assassinate Barack Obama. It’s really nothing personal about the man. … But I know it’s for the country’s own good that I can do this. Barack Obama, I view more as a sacrificial lamb… .”

Christopher also allegedly posted a note saying, “It’s not because I’m racist that I will kill Barack, it’s because I can no longer allow the Jewish parasites to bully their way into making the American people submit to their evil ways.” It wasn’t clear if Christopher had real links to radical-right groups, but he has posted close to 70 YouTube videos, many of them short rants like the one limited to a single sentence: “**** you, Jew.” Many of them begin with the notation, “Jew Censor Alert.” One says simply, “I’m going to fucking kill you.” And in still another, he showed his familiarity with at least one figure well known on the radical right as he launched into a bitter attack on Alex Jones, a conspiracist radio show host. Christopher has also said that God is ordering “everyone” to move to Florida by Dec. 31, a contention he repeated as he left a Jackson, Miss., courthouse in handcuffs after an initial appearance.

In an unrelated case, state and federal authorities announced the Friday arrests of three white men for allegedly burning down a predominantly black church in Springfield, Mass., hours after Obama’s election. The three — Benjamin Haskell, 22, Michael Jacques, 24, and Thomas Gleason, 21 — were charged with conspiring to deprive the church congregation of their civil rights. Macedonia Church of God in Christ’s almost completed new building was set afire with gasoline before dawn on Nov. 5, just hours after television stations called the election for Obama.

As the details of these cases unfolded Friday, authorities in Washington, D.C., were clamping down security for the inauguration to an unprecedented extent. No white supremacist groups are known to be planning to come to the capital Tuesday, but one gay-bashing hate group, the Westboro Baptist Church (known chiefly for its infamous website,, and rallies at soldiers’ funerals), is reportedly planning to protest along the inaugural parade route. Another group, the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, has asked its member to wear black armbands and hang “yankee flags” upside down on Tuesday and Wednesday. But there was no indication that the Indiana-based group had plans to travel to Washington.

Still, the chatter of Hal Turner’s site was not reassuring, especially given the two alleged white supremacist plots to kill Obama already broken up in Colorado and Tennessee. “Why talk about it?” asked “Reck Less Abandon” in a comment after Turner’s post suggesting ways of attacking the inaugural ceremonies. “JUST FUCKING DO IT.” Another poster, “PragmaticSaxon,” proposed adding an explosive gas to “bubonic plague or anthrax” in the balloons: “The exploding balloons will spread the pathogens and have massive effect on the masses of useless feeders that put that fucking nigger in office,” he wrote.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Another Major Anti-Latino Hate Attack Makes the News

Four reputed white supremacist gang members have been arrested in connection with the vicious beating of a Latino man on Nov. 19 in Hemet, Calif. The victim, a 19-year-old whose name police would not release, was knocked unconscious and then repeatedly stomped and kicked in the head. He suffered permanent brain damage and has been placed in a long-term care facility. According to investigators, the attack was random, unprovoked and motivated purely by racial hatred.

Hemet is located in the region of California known as the Inland Empire, which, as the Intelligence Report documented in 2005, has become a hotbed of white supremacist activity during an ongoing phase of rapid demographic shifts.

But the attack is also part of a frightening national pattern of rising anti-Latino violence. Hate crimes targeting Latinos have increased 40% since 2003, according to the most recent FBI statistics, which are known to undercount total hate crimes but nevertheless do indicate real trends. Whatever its exact level, the sharp rise in violence against Latinos has paralleled the spike in anti-immigrant propaganda on both the right-wing extremist margins of society and within the so-called mainstream media.

Last July, for instance, three white teenagers shouting ethnic slurs allegedly beat to death a 25-year-old Mexican immigrant in Shenandoah, Pa. Six weeks later, the nativist extremist group Voice of the People held a “pro-immigration enforcement” rally in Shenandoah, near the site of the murder. The attending crowd of roughly 50 included several members of the Keystone State Skinheads, a Harrisburg, Pa.-based racist skinhead gang.

More recently, in November, seven teens in Patchogue, N.Y., six of them white, decided to “go fight a Mexican” and randomly attacked an Ecuadorean immigrant who died after one of the assailants rushed at him with a knife, authorities said. As The New York Times reported last week: “The attacks were such an established pastime that the youths, who have pleaded not guilty, had a casual and derogatory term for it, ‘beaner hopping.’ One of the youths told the authorities, ‘I don’t go out doing this very often, maybe once a week.’” Times reporters interviewed 11 Latino men in the area who detailed 13 similar — though non-fatal — attacks before the “beaner hopping” finally turned deadly.

The upswing in anti-Latino violence does not seem to be abating. The first documented anti-Latino attack of 2009 occurred on New Year’s Day, when a Vallejo, Calif., motorist was arrested for gunning his vehicle toward a crowd of Latino day laborers. No injuries were reported. Frederick Martin, 31, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and committing a hate crime. Martin told police he was “trying to scare” the workers.


Glenn Spencer, More Hateful by the Day, Drones On

Glenn Spencer, who heads the hate groups American Patrol and American Border Patrol, loves showing off the high-tech gizmos he uses to track “illegal aliens.” Last April, Spencer set up remote control Internet cameras controlled from his home along the Mexican border in southeastern Arizona — “Operation Virtual Vigilance,” in the paramilitary parlance Spencer favors. At the time, he promised he would start sending unmanned aerial drones into the air to monitor border fence construction.

On Thursday, Spencer will trot out the results of his drone project, or what he calls Operation B.E.E.F. (Border Enforcement Evaluation First), at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. On his website, he says he’s been sending a drone up every two months along a route stretching “from Texas to the Pacific Ocean, documenting the construction of the border fence.”

Glenn Spencer is no stranger to Hatewatch. For years, he’s peddled a racist conspiracy theory that suggests that the Mexican government is purposely sending undocumented immigrants northward in order to “reconquer” the American Southwest and, ultimately, transform it into a northern Mexican state to be called Aztlan. But in recent months, Spencer has expanded from his usual angry attacks on Latinos to furious, explicitly racist and anti-Semitic tirades that have caught the attention of many longtime Spencer observers. Consider:

• Just before Christmas, Spencer issued a nearly hysterical Web posting entitled “Obama Threatens Nation,” in which he described the incoming Obama Administration as “prepared to make a frontal assault on the sovereignty of the United States.” In fact, he said, “Barack Obama represents the greatest threat to the United States of America since the Civil War. Brainwashed Americans have just voted to commit national suicide.”
• The same month, Spencer wrote an article on his website with another provocative title: “Is Jew-Controlled Hollywood Brainwashing Americans?” In it, he assured readers that he had Jewish friends but added: “I fear, however, that this small handful of patriotic Americans are far outnumbered by liberal Jews who now have total control over our media.” He linked his posting to a report by well-known anti-Semitic theorist Kevin MacDonald, who Spencer has hosted as a guest on his radio show and whose work he recommends.
• Last fall, Spencer lamented the falling birthrate for whites and contrasted that to soaring Latino birth rates. The title of his posting (which was accompanied by the cartoon below): “White America Commits Suicide: The Coming Disunited States of America.”

It’s not like Spencer has been seen as calm and rational in the past. In fact, some of his neighbors and former allies have long been saying he’s out of control. In 2003, he was charged with four felonies after firing his .357 Magnum pistol into a neighbor’s garage because, he told police, he had heard noises that frightened him (later that year, the charges were reduced to a misdemeanor and a $2,500 fine). In 2002, Francis Williams, a director of Spencer’s own American Border Patrol, resigned, describing Spencer as “borderline xenophobic.”

That was hardly a revelation to many who knew Spencer. In a 1996 letter to the Los Angeles Times, Spencer wrote that “Mexican culture is based on deceit” and that “Chicanos and Mexicanos lie as a means of survival.” In 1998, he spoke in Cullman, Ala., at anti-immigrant rally hosted by the Council of Conservative Citizens, a racist group that has called blacks “a retrograde species of humanity.” In 2001, he had Betina McCann, then fiancé of neo-Nazi Steven Barry, hand-deliver copies of his film “Bonds of Our Nation” to every member of Congress (the video largely rehashes his Aztlan conspiracy theory).

None of this has stopped Spencer from being featured in mainstream media venues. He’s appeared twice in recent years on CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” and last year he debuted his video, “Border Truth USA,” at a three-day American Legion conference on illegal immigration (the Legion had earlier issued a report on illegal immigration rife with falsehoods and defamatory statements). Spencer’s American Patrol (also known as Voice of Citizens Together) has also received at least $11,000 in grants (pdf) since 1994 from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a major nativist group that has angrily rejected the label of “hate group” applied by the Southern Poverty Law Center.


Supremacists Prepare for Inauguration Terrorist Attack

Ex-officer charged with murder in BART shooting

(CNN) -- A former transit police officer accused of shooting an unarmed man at a Northern California commuter train station has been arrested and charged with murder, an Alameda County district attorney said Wednesday.
Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff speaks at a press conference announcing murder charges.

Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff speaks at a press conference announcing murder charges.

"What I feel the evidence indicates is an unlawful killing done by an intentional act," district attorney Tom Orloff told reporters at a news conference.

"From the evidence we have there's nothing that would mitigate that to something lower than a murder," he added. "The murder charge was the appropriate charge given the state of the evidence."

Former Bay Area Rapid Transit Officer Johannes Mehserle, 27, was arrested Tuesday evening in Nevada, Orloff said.

He waived extradition and police officers were transporting him back to California on Wednesday.

Orloff said Mehserle's attorney has invoked his client's right to remain silent.

"In terms of an interview at this point in time, our hands are tied," he said. Video Watch Orloff speak about the murder charges »

Mehserle was arrested on a fugitive warrant charging homicide in Nevada.

He is accused of the shooting of Oscar Grant III at an Oakland, California, station on New Year's Day. The incident was captured on video by several witnesses and spurred violent protests in the northern California city.

Mehserle, 27, was taken into custody in Douglas County, Nevada at about 7 p.m., Sgt. Dan Coverly of Douglas County Sheriff's Office told CNN affiliate KGO-TV in San Francisco.

Referring to Mehserle's arrest, BART said, "This comes after the BART Police Department conducted a thorough investigation that involved nine detectives, which BART Police turned over to District Attorney Thomas Orloff on Monday, January 12."

Leads led investigators to Mehserle in Zephyr Cove, Nevada. Contacted through his attorney, Mehserle surrendered.

Jail staff report that Mehserle has cooperated and is in a segregated area and on a precautionary health and welfare watch.

Mehserle resigned from his job as a BART police officer days after the shooting.

Grant, a 22-year-old father, was killed on New Year's Day in a crowded BART train station. Police had been called to the Fruitvale station after passengers complained about fights on a train and took Grant and several other people off the train once they arrived.

Videos from witnesses show Mehserle shooting Grant in the back as another BART officer kneeled on the man. The shooting spawned public outrage and a string of protests that led to more than a hundred riot-related arrests.

Police have not said whether Grant had been involved in the fight.

The Oakland Police Department is running its own investigation into the killing, at the request of Mayor Ron Dellums, Officer Jeff Thomason said Wednesday.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Police fatally shoot unarmed man

Oscar Grant III, fatally shot by an unidentified BART(Oakland,CA) officer early New Year's Day. Oscar Grant was unarmed, laying face down and shot in the back.

OAKLAND, Calif. - Law enforcement officials urged patience while they investigated details surrounding the fatal New Year's Day shooting of a 22-year-old man by a transit agency police officer.

Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Chief Gary Gee said on Sunday that the agency is "committed to completing an unbiased, thorough and detailed investigation" of the shooting death of Oscar Grant.

"This case is not even four days cold. We're in the early stages of the investigation and we will do a very thorough job," he said.

Several unanswered questions remained after BART officers went to Oakland's Fruitvale station to investigate reports of a supposed brawl on a train on which Grant was riding around 2 a.m. Thursday.

A friend of Grant's who was with him on the crowded Oakland train station platform at the time of the shooting said Grant pleaded with officers not to harm him.

"Oscar yelled, 'You shot me! I got a four-year-old daughter,'" said Fernando Anicete. "Oscar was telling us to calm down and we did. We weren't looking for any trouble."

Anicete was among more than 50 people attending a tearful news conference in Oakland on Sunday where Grant's family announced they planned to file a $25 million claim against the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency this week. A claim is the first step in the process of suing the agency.

The family's attorney John Burris said the shooting was intentional, and that he planned to ask Alameda County prosecutors to seek criminal charges against the officer. Burris said Grant, of Hayward, Calif., posed no threat to officers when a bullet entered his back and ricocheted to his lung area, killing him almost instantly.

"The officer leaned (in), was straddling over him and pointed his gun directly into the backside and shot (Grant)," said Burris, adding that Grant was handcuffed - after he was shot. "This was not a deadly force situation."

Gee said BART police are fully cooperating with the district attorney's investigation.

Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson, and Sophina Mesa, his daughter's mother, wept uncontrollably as Burris spoke about Grant. They did not speak, but several said Grant, a butcher at a supermarket near the train station where he was killed, was a loving father showing signs of maturation.

Cephus "Bobby" Johnson, Grant's uncle, said he text messaged his nephew just after midnight Thursday saying, "Happy New Year ... I love you."

Johnson never got a reply.

"I wondered why he didn't text me back," a teary-eyed Johnson said. "And then I found out why."

BART spokesman Jim Allison has said the officer's gun went off while police were trying to restrain Grant and that Grant was not cuffed. The unidentified officer is on paid leave as BART investigates the shooting.

Mario Pangelina, Mesa's brother who was riding on the same train, two cars behind Grant on Thursday morning, said Sunday he saw Grant beg police not to Taser him because of his child.

"He kept saying, 'Please, please don't Tase me,'" Pangelina said. "He was not acting hostile."

Other witnesses said Grant was lying on his stomach on the station's platform when he was shot.

Recordings of the shooting by witnesses have surfaced and Burris said BART had confiscated numerous cell phone images from others he believes contain additional footage.

Services for Grant will be held Wednesday.


BART Police Murders Man at Fruitvale BART Station

In the early hours of January 1st, BART police shot and killed a 22 year old man, Oscar Grant, on the platform of the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland. Witnesses report that Grant was "lying on his stomach with his hands out in a non-threatening position when he was shot". Police have confirmed Grant was unarmed and have suggested the shooting was an accident. Grant lived in Hayward and leaves behind a 4-year-old daughter.

BART officials have not released the name of the officer who shot Grant. After the shooting, BART police seized several cell phones from people on the platform who said they had used the phones' cameras to record what happened. For the first two days BART officials told the mainstream media that surveillance cameras at the station do not record, but then corrected themselves Friday night saying the cameras did record but didn't show the incident.


Saturday, January 03, 2009

3 more White supremacists arrested in Latino beating

Three more alleged white supremacists were behind bars today on $1 million bail in connection with the November beating in Hemet of a Latino who suffered brain damage.

Crystal Lee McCann, 22, Derek Shane O'Brien, 22 and Darrin Peter Thibault, 24, were arrested between Dec. 19 and Thursday in connection with the Nov. 14 beating of a 19-year-old Latino whose name has not been released.

The teen, beaten at the Jackson Mobile Home Park at 225 Elk St., Hemet, has
been placed in a long-term care facility and his brain damage will likely be permanent, said Hemet police Sgt. Mark Richards.

Thibault, arrested Dec. 19, has been arraigned on charges of attempted murder, membership in a criminal gang and assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm, with gang, serious felony and great bodily injury allegations, according to court records.

McCann, arrested Dec. 26, has pleaded not guilty to attempting to dissuade a witness and gang allegations. She is to be arraigned Tuesday.

O'Brien was arrested Thursday on suspicion of attempted murder, violation of probation and membership in a criminal street gang. He is also to be arraigned Tuesday.

The first person arrested, Justin Tyme Hayes, 21, has been charged with attempted murder and participating in a criminal street gang, with serious felony, great bodily injury and gang activity allegations. He has pleaded not guilty.

All of them reputedly belong to a white supremacist gang, Richards said.

Investigators may charge more people in the near future, the sergeant said.

Obama Death Wish by Arpaio's Deputy?

Arpaio arrests activists while Supervisor Kunasek watches