Saturday, May 23, 2009

San Diego Minutemen Leader Ordered to Pay $135,000 for Defaming Woman

Jeff Schwilk — the hot-tempered leader of the San Diego Minutemen, a nativist extremist organization with a reputation for violent confrontations and crude insults — has been ordered to pay $135,000 to a Korean-American civil rights activist who filed a defamation lawsuit against Schwilk and SDMM founding member and former spokesman Ray Carney in 2007.

Joanne Yoon sued Carney and Schwilk for $1 million after the men circulated photos of her in late 2006 along with comments referring to her as “the Korean anorexic ACLU slut.” Yoon, who was then 24, helped monitor SDMM rallies for the American Civil Liberties Union. The images of her were posted to a Yahoo group titled “Korean Kommie Kunt.” Ever the sensitive soul, Schwilk changed the name of the group to “Joanne Yoon ACLU Goon” after female SDMM activists objected. But that didn’t stop Carney from sending a mass E-mail to SDMM members suggesting that Yoon was interested in protecting the civil rights of Mexican immigrants because of her fondness for “Brown Schlong.”

Schwilk was ordered to pay compensatory damages yesterday after a Superior Court jury decided against him. Punitive damages will be decided May 26. The court also entered a default judgment against Carney, who did not file a response to Yoon’s lawsuit.

Schwilk’s attorney called the decision “an injustice” and vowed to file an appeal.

Source: SPLCenter

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Justice reviewing immigrant's beating death in Pa.

The Associated Press

POTTSVILLE, Pa. - Two Pennsylvania teens acquitted of the most serious state charges in the beating death of a Mexican immigrant could still face federal charges.

Justice Department spokesman Alejandro Miyar says the civil rights division is reviewing evidence surrounding last summer's fatal fight between high school football players in Schuylkill County and 25-year-old Luis Ramirez.

A county jury last week acquitted 17-year-old Brandon Piekarsky of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation and 19-year-old Derrick Donchak of aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation. Both were convicted of simple assault.

The case has exposed racial tensions in the predominantly white community. Some immigrants have moved to the area in search of farm and factory work.


Sunday, May 03, 2009

Some satisfied, others outraged with verdict for immigrant's death

* Story Highlights
* Teens acquitted of murder, aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation
* Verdict sends "extremely dangerous" precedent, advocacy group says
* Schuylkill County prosecutors alleged the beating was racially motivated
* Incident drew national attention to small town of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania

By Emanuella Grinberg

Friends and relatives of two teens accused in the beating death of a Mexican immigrant struggled to contain their relief as not-guilty verdicts were announced on the most serious charges against the former high school football stars Friday.

Gasps filled the courtroom and some had to be restrained by sheriff's deputies as they tried to rush the defense table after Derrick Donchak, 19, and Brandon Piekarsky, 17, were acquitted of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and ethnic intimidation for the death of Luis Ramirez.

Piekarsky was also found not guilty of third-degree murder for the death of Ramirez, who died of blunt force injuries after an encounter with the teens last summer.

However, the all-white jury of six men and six women from Schuylkill County jury found Piekarsky and Donchak guilty of simple assault.

The case drew national attention to the small town of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, highlighting race relations and polarizing the community on who was to blame for the incident.

Lawyers for the teens never denied that their clients were involved in a physical altercation with Ramirez on a residential street the night of July 12.

Instead, they tried to cast Ramirez as the aggressor, and suggested that the other teens involved in the tangle of punches and blows were to blame.

"In my mind it was the lack of evidence to tie these kids to the serious charges that they brought," defense lawyer Frederick Fanelli said.

A cast of witnesses provided conflicting accounts regarding who initiated the encounter and who exactly did what, complicating prosecutors' efforts to assign blame.

"If you ask most prosecutors who are dealing with multiple defendants, and in this particular case there were at least four, it is extraordinary difficult to clear the fog of a fight," truTV anchor Ashleigh Banfield said.

The 25-year-old Mexican immigrant had settled in Shenandoah a year before his death with his wife, a lifelong resident of the faltering mining town, and their young children.

He was walking down a residential street with a friend when he encountered the group of teens, who had been drinking earlier in the evening. Donchak was convicted of providing alcohol to the other teens who were involved in the confrontation, including a juvenile co-defendant and another teen who pleaded guilty in federal court for his role in the fight.

Prosecutors alleged that the teens baited the Ramirez into a fight with racial epithets, provoking an exchange of punches and kicks that ended with Ramirez convulsing in the street, foaming from the mouth. He died two days later in a hospital.

Piekarsky was accused of delivering a fatal kick to Ramirez's head after he was knocked to the ground.

As they poured out of courthouse, the teens' supporters shouted "I was right from the start" and "I'm glad the jury listened" at cameras that caught the late-night verdict.

But Gladys Limon, a spokeswoman for the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said the jury had sent a troubling message.

"The jurors here [are] sending the message that you can brutally beat a person, without regard to their life, and get away with it, continue with your life uninterrupted," she said.

"In this case, the message is that a person who may not be popular in society based on their national origin or certain characteristic has less value in our society," she said.

The extent of Ramirez's injuries, which had left his brain oozing from his skull, according to medical testimony, should have sufficed for a conviction other than simple assault, Limon said.

"The acts here were egregious in brutality and it's just outrageous and very difficult to understand how any juror could have had reasonable doubt, especially as to the aggravated assault and the reckless enganderment charges," she said.

Limon said her group intends to press the Department of Justice to file federal charges against the teens.

"Luis Ramirez's family deserves vindication for his death," she said. "This incident has not only disrupted Luis Ramirez's family, but the entire community."

CNN's Brian Rokus contributed to this report.

Source: CNN

Friday, May 01, 2009

WTKK-FM suspends Severin for derogatory comments about Mexicans

April 30, 2009 08:20 PM

By David Abel, Globe Staff

Jay Severin, the fiery, right-wing radio talk show host on Boston’s WTKK-FM radio station, was suspended today after calling Mexican immigrants "criminaliens," “primitives,” “leeches,” and “women with mustaches and VD,” among other incendiary comments.

Jay Severin

Heidi Raphael, a spokeswoman for the station, said Severin had been suspended indefinitely from his afternoon drive-time show. She declined to say which of his comments – made since an outbreak of swine flu was linked to Mexico in recent days – sparked the suspension.

“I can assure you that the station has not been using the remarks for which he has been suspended in on-air promos,” she said, declining to comment further.

In an email, Severin, a bombastic voice whose views often mirror those of fringe conservatives and who rarely lacks something to say, referred questions to his lawyer. “I am simply not at liberty to discuss it at this time,” he wrote.

George Tobia, his lawyer, said it was not clear how long his client will be suspended. “All we know is it’s indefinite,” he said in a telephone interview. “We’re just learning of it, and we’re dealing with it.”

Severin’s comments sparked deep concern among Mexicans and other Latinos living in the Boston area, prompting what Tobia described as a flood of complaints to the station management in recent days about Severin’s comments about Mexicans and the swine flu.

“It would certainly be unfortunate if someone was suspended because some people didn’t like what he said,” Tobia said.

He did not know Severin’s precise comments.

In one of his broadcasts this week, Severin said: "So now, in addition to venereal disease and the other leading exports of Mexico – women with mustaches and VD – now we have swine flu."

Later, he described Mexicans as “the world's lowest of primitives.”
“When we are the magnet for primitives around the world -- and it’s not the primitives’ fault by the way, I’m not blaming them for being primitives -- I’m merely observing they’re primitive,” he said.

He added Mexicans are destroying schools and hospitals in the United States. He also criticized their hygiene.

"It's millions of leeches from a primitive country come here to leech off you and, with it, they are ruining the schools, the hospitals, and a lot of life in America,” he said.

He added: "We should be, if anything, surprised that Mexico has not visited upon us poxes of more various and serious types already, considering the number of crimaliens already here."

In a previous broadcast this week, Severin argued the Obama administration wasn’t taking sufficient action to seal the border.

"The usual 5,000 criminaliens that come across the Arizona border will probably be 8,000 tonight, and maybe tomorrow it will be 12,000, because even Mexicans are going to be trying to get out of Mexico at a greater rate."

Afterward, while talking to a nurse who called his show to complain about healthcare provided to immigrants, he commiserated with her when she said she was glad she didn't work in an emergency room.

"Yeah, well, that's become essentially condos for Mexicans," he said.

It’s not the first time Severin has faced criticism for derogatory comments about minorities on his weekday program. On a 2004 broadcast, he compared US Muslims to a fifth column, and when a caller suggested the United States should befriend Muslims, Severin responded: "You think we should befriend them; I think we should kill them."

He has called former Vice President Al Gore “Al Whore,” former First Lady and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “a lying [expletive],” and Senator Edward M. Kennedy “a fat piece of lying garbage."

Severin also has been criticized over the years for falsely saying he had won a Pulitzer Prize and that he had earned a master’s degree from Boston University.

Amparo Anguiano , deputy consul of the Consulate General of Mexico in Boston, called Severin’s latest language “hatemongering.”

“All he does is spread hate,” she said. “It’s not the first time immigrants have been denigrated unfoundedly for being dirty, uncivilized, and bringing in diseases. There’s nothing more to say, other than these statements spread unfounded biases, hate, and prejudice.”

Marcela Garcia, editor of El Planeta, a Boston-based publication distributed to Latinos throughout the region, said she shudders when she hears Severin on the radio.

“It’s aggravating, insulting, and disgusting,” she said. “I just can’t listen to him. He doesn’t just show a lack of respect; he shows a lack of knowledge about what immigration means to this country. What he says just fuels the racist dialogue going on about immigration.”
Franklin Soults, a spokesman for Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition, called Severin’s language “dehumanizing.”

“What he said is just patently offensive,” he said. “There has been a huge rise in hate crimes against immigrants, especially Hispanics, and on the show, he doesn’t just talk about Mexicans as criminals, he talks about them as if they were animals and should be quarantined.”

Tobia, Severin's lawyer, said he does not know what’s going to happen, but he ultimately expects Severin back on the airways.

“I think we’re going to sit down with them [station officials] soon and just go forward and put it past us …. I’m confident he’ll be back on the air soon, but I don’t know when or what the particulars are.”

David Abel can be reached at