January 31, 2013
By Charlene Muhammad
Hate crimes will not be tolerated in Compton or in any other community, declared a coalition of civic, religious, and educational leaders and community activists during a Jan. 28 press conference in front of Compton City Hall.
This response stems from the recent arrests of three alleged Latino gang members whom police say tried to force an African American family from their home on 153rd Street. The family recently moved into the home when one of them was attacked on Dec. 31, 2012, according to L.A. County Sheriffs.
Police have arrested the three suspects - one a juvenile, whose name was not released, along with 21-year-old Efren Marquez of Riverside County, and 19-year-old Jeffrey Aguilar of Compton. Marquez allegedly pointed a gun at the male victim and threatened to shoot him, while he was allegedly being beaten by Aguilar, Captain Mike Parker informed in a press release.
After the attack, the suspects fled but returned 30 minutes later with a group of 15-20 gang members, “who surrounded the front of the victims’ home shouting racial epithets and telling them that members of the African American race (using the ‘n-word’) were not allowed to live in the neighborhood. One unidentified member of the group threw a large beer bottle through the front living room window, shattering the window,” Captain Parker’s statement read.
“I don’t care who committed the hate crime. Hate crimes are unacceptable in Compton or anywhere else in our society” stated Compton City Councilmember Janna Zurita.
Assemblyman Isadore Hall, a Compton native, is working with neighborhood and law enforcement leaders to help form a pro-active plan to prevent similar incidents from occurring. “I was shocked and saddened to learn about this senseless attack on an African American family in my hometown. No family should live in fear of gangs, especially not on their own street and in their own home.”
“It’s a shame and we’re saddened by what’s happened but it’s not just happening in Compton. It’s happening all over,” said Basil Kimbrew, chair of the California Friends of the African American Caucus.
The family who was victimized by these crimes is worried and has been relocated for their safety and is reportedly doing fine.
Coalition members at the press conference included Councilmember Janna Zurita, Satra Zurita (clerk of the Compton Unified School District Governing Board of Trustees), Rev. Eric Lee (Black Community Clergy, Labor Alliance), Rev. K.W. Tulloss (L.A. president of the National Action Network), Basil Kembrew (chair of the California Friends of the African American Caucus), Paulette Simpson-Gipson (president of the Compton NAACP) Albert Robles (vice-chair of the California Friends of the Latino Caucus), Larry Aubry (community activist and LA Sentinel Columnist) and Dr. Earl Ofari Hutchinson (president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable).
They challenged the district attorney and justice department to impose the harshest penalties allowed for attacks based on race.
Zurita insisted the incident does not define Compton. “We are no different. African Americans and Latinos have similar cultural values. We both have an incredible resilience in the face of difficult circumstances,” she said.
Zurita offered early childhood education on racial harmony, cultural differences, tolerance, and respect as some solutions to the problem.
“Let’s face it. There are many people, even in this day with an African American president, who still teach their children the ignorance of racism,” Zurita added.
According to media reports, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will decide if the suspects should face federal prosecution.
Jasmyne Cannick, a political consultant and Compton native said Blacks must take direct action to avoid feeling outnumbered and overwhelmed in their city.
“We have to stop, every time we get some money or we decide we want to buy a house, buying a house in Rialto or Palmdale or outside of Compton because we want to get away from us. You can’t have it both ways. If you’ve got pride in being Black and pride in your city, you stay,” she stated.