TTT Vol, 3, #6 Oct.-Dec. 1990
Amber Jefferson, an eighth-grader in Garden Grove of mixed racial background, was talking with several Black, white and Hispanic friends on Aug. 6, when an argument began between one of her friends and a white teen-age girl. The dispute swiftly erupted into racial expletives and then violence from the white girl’s friends, including a half dozen teenagers and a white man, age 42. They pulled out baseball bats and began swinging, according to reports.
As Amber and her friends tried to run, she was hit brutally on the head and legs, and a shard of glass weilded by one attacker cut a groove an inch deep down her cheek, from her scalp to her jaw. Now, her jaw is wired shut, the muscles on one side of her face are frozen and may take years to recover full mobility. She has to eat through a tube. A plastic surgeon in Hollywood has offered to reconstruct her face free, after her plight was publicized.
For more than five weeks after the incident, no one was charged, although the participants were known. The Urban League called for federal prosecutors to investigate. The Orange County sheriffs investigating the incident first refused to classify it as racially motivated, although under pressure from civil rights activists, the sheriff’s department finally recommended that the D.A. consider filing charges under the state “hate crime” law. The D.A. wanted to press charges against both Amber’s attackers and against some of her friends.
Amber’s father, William Jefferson, who is Black, is angry not only about his daughter’s condition, but about her treatment by the authorities. “If this had been a 15 year old white girl attacked by two Black guys, someone would be in jail. I don’t want anyone to go and hurt those people, but I want the law to take of (it),” he told the L.A. Times. Amber’s aunt reiterated the charges of discriminatory treatment after the attack. “They’re just trying to hush it up. That child was almost killed, and it wasn’t even in the paper.” Eventually, charges were filed against the attackers, and one is being tried as an adult, but the D.A. refused to denote the attack as a hate crime.
Rev. Carl White, a Black minister, was killed by two white Northridge teenagers on July 28, according to police. Phil Dimenno and Dana Singer went to the Black pastor’s home and shot him dead after he refused to ignore a fender bender earlier in the day in which a friend of theirs hit his car. They were arrested after using his credit card to buy tires. Yet the assistant D.A. in the case allowed bail to be set at $20,000 and Dimenno was released. After a chorus of community protest, bail was revoked and he was rearrested. Police later determined that the weapon used in the slaying was stolen in a 1989 burglary and the pair had previously been cited for possession of a semi-automatic pistol with hollow point bullets and a dagger while in a nearby park.
White, who lived in mostly white Chatsworth and worked in mostly Black Pacoima, was eulogized by members of his Apostolic Baptist congregation, who found him shot in the head at home after he failed to show up for Sunday services. White’s daughter, Debbie Gibson, felt the bail decision had racist overtones. “If that had been a white (minister) killed by two Black men,” she said, “they’d never have been released.”
The chief deputy D.A. eventually apologized to the Minister’s Fellowship of the San Fernando Valley for the decision to let the accused killers out on low bail and changed its policy in all such cases to a “no bail” assumption. But neither police nor the D.A. have looked into racial motivations in the killing itself, despite a series of hate crimes in the area, including the vandalizing of a Black teacher’s home last summer and the still unsolved killing of another Black teacher in the area last year. Meanwhile the two suspects were attacked in jail by a Black inmate. Papers which were skeptical about any racial issues in the killing, immediately labelled the jail beating as a racial incident.
The home of an aged Black family in suburban Agoura Hills was brutally vandalized for the second time in three years in August. $30,000 in damage was done; animal feces were dragged into the house, a Black-themed painting was stolen, and a swastika was painted in the living room. Neighbors, who reported repeated nazi spray-painting in the area in previous weeks, were quick to come to the family’s support, helping to clean and restore the home. Police indicate that nazi skinheads may have been involved, but have no specific suspects.
Anti-semitic slogans were painted on the home of the Ly family in the San Fernando Valley beginning in July, and physical attacks, break-ins, threatening notes and graffiti have continued ever since. Mr. Ly is Chinese and his wife is Jewish. Two unidentified youths attacked Mrs. Ly, knocking her down, bruising her head and cutting her wrist. Again, police have not yet charged anyone. After police began investigating, the home was twice broken into, and their cars were sprayed with racist epithets like “Chink”, “Jew Bitch” and “nigger lover”. And the attacks are continuing. On the night of Sept. 4, while Mr. Ly was out talking with a community group, a rock was thrown through the family’s window. The family also received a note warning them not to go to police or community groups for help.
“L.A.CARES!” FIGHTS HATE CRIMES
In response to the continuing plague of hate crimes, the International Institute of Los Angeles, a group which has previously focused on helping immigrants, has launched a program called “L.A. CARES!” to assist people who have been victimized in such crimes of hatred.
Roberto Andreas, president of the Board of the Institute says the group is “directly concerned with violence and intimidation against newcomers from foreign cultures.” Lavinia Limon, executive director, says that the program, which provides up to $500 when the money can contribute to the victim’s recovery, is open to all people who are victims of any hate crime, including those based on race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. Application for the grants can be made through local human rights organizations.
WHITE POWER BOMBING
Organized white supremacist activity is on the increase again in San Diego. A group calling itself the “Holy Church of the White Fighting Machine of the Cross” has issued a 30-day ultimatum calling for the repeal of laws against hate crimes. In a message to a San Diego TV station, the group hinted that it was responsible for a recent bombing of the Federal Building in that city. Several white men in military type outfits were seen laughing and running from the scene shortly before the explosion on Saturday, September 15. The FBI is investigating the blast. The White Fighting Machine did not explicitly claim responsibility for the bombing, but said it “cannot guarantee there will not be injuries in the future.” The group called for the mobilization of the National Guard to seal off the border, and demanded new trials for those incarcerated for hate crimes. It also demanded that all concerned end the civil suit in Portland OR against WAR leaders Tom and John Metzger.
The White Fighting Machine has also sent death threats to Roberto Martinez, an immigration rights activist with the U.S.-Mexico Border Program of the American Friends Service Committee. The letter to Martinez addressed him as a “dirty f-king spic greaser” and a “beaner”, and warned him to stop “criticizing the Border Patrol and the whites who are trying to save our white country from the jews and goy stooges.” The letter concluded, “We are going to choke all you pachookos, vato maricone. … White power is going to get you.” Martinez has previously received other threatening letters, ever since being involved in counter-demonstrations against the “Light Up the Border” anti-immigrant vigilante actions.
Martinez believes “Light Up the Border” cannot escape some of the blame for legitimizing such racist violence. “Directly or indirectly, (it’)s attracting fringe groups,” he says. Martinez has received other threatening letters and calls, including one sent to “the American Friends Beaner Committee,” which appeared to come from nazi skinheads, and the AFSC is calling for a thorough investigation. The San Diego P.D. has begun investigating the letters and calls as a hate crime.
Muriel Watson, who initiated the Light Up the Border campaign, told the press in San Diego, “I’m sorry for Mr. Martinez, but when you stick your neck out and you take a stand, this is part of the heat.” Watson resumed the anti-immigrant demonstrations last month after a hiatus over the summer when racist leader Tom Metzger called on his followers to “wage war on illegal aliens” and to defend the protest from pro-immigrant counter-demonstrators.
Ex-Mayor Roger Hedgecock has used his radio show to promote the border protests in which people gather en masse to shine their car, truck and r.v. lights on the border to prevent immigrants from crossing and aid the Border Patrol in arresting those who do. He claims that the threats are not coming from within the campaign, and says he has personally received similar letters “from the same guy. They appear to come from the same typewriter.”
RACIST POLICE VIOLENCE
Martinez is the chair of the Coalition for Law and Justice, which has been representing a group of Hispanic residents in El Cajon, who charge they have been victimized and mistreated by police using racial slurs. At least one such beating resulted in the hosipitalization of the victim of the police attack. In Spetember, the police chief of El Cajon admitted that there’s been a pattern of “sustained misconduct” against Hispanics by several officers. The chief pledged to work with the Coalition to develop training for the police, and to improve the process of taking citizen complaints, particularly from non-English speaking residents. Meanwhile, in San Diego itself, police have killed at least 9 people this year, and injured 15 others in shootings, mostly minority-group members. One officer shot people in two separate incidents, killing one. The son of the top P.D. officer investigating the department’s policy on shootings also shot and killed a man. In only two of these case did the victim have a gun.
RACIST PARA-MILITARY OPERATIONS
Jason MacAllister, the 17-year-old alleged leader of a para-military anti-immigration group called the Metal Militia, was ordered to stand trial as an adult along with three others on charges of the armed robbery of undocumented immigrants along the border. The three other men were due to be arraigned on the charges on October 1.
MacAllister and his group appeared on Fox-TV’s tabloid “The Reporters” carrying out para-military maneuvers in the desert, and allegedly rounding-up aliens. MacAllister and several dormitory mates from a Job Corps program are charged with holding up three immigrants within a few minutes on August 30, while armed with sticks and other weapons.
Since June, there have also been five killings and at least three assaults on undocumented Mexicano immigrants in San Diego, all of whom were trans-vestites or trans-sexuals. Police are not sure if these are serial killings, but suspect at least two are related. One man was beaten, killed execution style, and his body dumped in San Diego’s Wild Animal Park. On September 24, the Border Patrol arrested and deported 19 undocumented Hispanic transvestites who had crossed the border from Mexico, allegedly to work as prostitutes in San Diego.
The deadly attacks are being blamed on a convergence of anti-gay and anti-immigrant hostilities. In this area, too, there is a relationship between the vigilante violence and the organizing of the “establishment” right. When Dr. Virginia Uribe, lesbian director of the L.A. Schools’ Project 10, a counseling program for gay teens, tried to speak to teachers and counselors in San Diego about gay kids’ special needs, she was picketed by right-wing parents and anti-abortion legislative candidates. Hedgecock attacked her on his show. Demonstrators accused gays of seeking new recruits among youth to replace those dying of AIDS.
A federal grand jury in San Diego indicted three men on September 26 for a campaign of terror and harassment against an aged Jewish pawnbroker. Three men in their early 20’s were accused of calling David Vogel almost daily for three years, threatening him and his wife and claiming they would fire-bomb his store. He was unable to get any assistance from law enforcement until he hired a private eye who convinced the FBI to open a file. Immediately after the FBI started to tape Vogel’s calls in May, a hate call came in. Two other men arrested earlier in Spetember pleaded guilty to civil-rights misdemeanors in the case.
INCREASED RACIAL TENSION
Racial tensions in San Diego may have been exacerbated by a still-unsolved series of killings of young white women (as well as the mother of one victim) by a man described as “black” or “dark-skinned.” In the Mission Beach area, a racial melee erupted on Sept. 23 after a group of Black youths started name-calling at passing whites. Hoping to defuse the increasing tensions, the new head of the San Diego chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, Carol Rogoff Hallston, is pressing for the passage of a local Human Relations Ordinance. She said that the existing Human Relations Council has “no teeth.”