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Color Them Criminal
Three were white women assaulted by a crowd of black teenagers shouting racist epithets. The LA Times' (and national media's) response? Yawnnn. I remember there was some protest by somebody at the LA Times that it was not a local story -- about when they ran a long story about some guy from San Francisco who'd been conned and murdered by his South American, Internet-met bride-to-be. About the Long Beach affair, Kate writes in the LA Weekly:

Last Halloween in the Bixby Knolls neighborhood of Long Beach, where neighbors put on a lavish fright fest each year, three young women left a haunted house and found themselves caught in a street brawl with a crowd of teenagers. By melee’s end, one woman’s face was fractured in 12 spots, her teeth were broken and she’d suffered partial loss of sight in one eye. Two of the women suffered brain concussions and assorted broken bones after being kicked, punched and even struck by a skateboard wielded as a weapon.

The story broke on November 3, when local Web site editor William Pearl scooped other media on LBReport.com, quoting Long Beach police spokeswoman Jacqueline Bezart as saying a crowd of black attackers hurled racial taunts (“White bitches!” “We hate whites!”) at the young women, and the police were pursuing it as a hate crime.

At the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, reporter Tracy Manzer quickly landed an exclusive interview with the victims, introducing awkward issues of race and culture rarely seen in California media. Said one victim, identified as Laura: “They asked us, ‘Are you down with it?’ We had no idea what that meant so we didn’t say anything and just walked by them up to the haunted house. They were grabbing their crotches — we didn’t know if it was a gang thing or what.”

Suddenly, newspaper editors, TV-news directors and other media faced an unsettling prospect of their own: If white-on-black hate crime is covered with an apologetic tone and references to the legacy of slavery, what’s the tone for covering black-on-white hate crime? Can a minority be a racist? And how can we, the media, get out of this?

As the Press-Telegram reported on November 3, three white women aged 19 to 21 emerged from a “maze” walk in a house and were confronted by up to 40 black teenagers who pelted them with pumpkins and lemons. The paper said, “The taunts and jeers grew more aggressive, the victims recalled, as did the size of the crowd. Now females joined in, and everyone began saying, ‘We hate white people, f--- whites!’”

The bizarre case, now in its fifth week of trial, resulted in hate-crime charges against nine girls and three boys, two of whom will be tried later. Yet the story didn’t run in the Los Angeles Times until November 7, buried inside local news. In that piece, writer J. Michael Kennedy quoted the Press-Telegram’s interview with the victims, watering down the racist language to the vague and more acceptable phrase “a series of antiwhite epithets.”

While some media tiptoed around the story, another outlook was emerging as the fast-tracked trial — required in youth cases — hurtled toward its late-November start date. Well-known black political columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson, who has explored both sides of the story in a levelheaded manner, was quoted by City News Service as noting that the latest FBI hate-crimes report showed that blacks now commit more than 20 percent of the hate crimes, the majority of victims white.

Hutchison writes:

A well-known local civil rights activist drew applause and praise when he announced that he planned to lead a walk against hate two days before Christmas in support of victims of racially motivated violence in Long Beach, California.

In years past, that would have scarcely raised an eyebrow and drawn only the barest of media coverage since civil rights groups have held countless marches and demonstrations in past years against white on black hate violence. Local and national civil rights leaders almost certainly would have eagerly endorsed the walk.

But this time, none publicly endorsed it.

The walk was not in protest of black hate violence. The victims are not blacks. They are three white women. They were brutally beaten on Halloween night in Long Beach. Ten black teens are charged with the attack. During the attacks the blacks allegedly hurled racial insults, and taunts that included shouts of "I Hate Whites." That prompted prosecutors to slap eight of the teens with a hate crimes charge. The hate charge raised two thorny questions: Can, and do, blacks commit hate crimes? And if they commit them, what should civil right groups say and do?

The second question is even more perplexing and conflicting. That was plainly evident during a contentious meeting Long Beach officials called in mid-December to ease racial tensions stemming from the attacks. Blacks were deeply divided over the issue. Najee Ali, director of Project Islamic Hope, who organized the anti-hate walk, challenged civil rights leaders to break the code of silence on hate violence when blacks are the accused attackers, and whites are the victims.

The editor of Long Beach's black newspaper hotly disputed that there was any racial motive in the attacks, blamed the white women for provoking the violence, and accused prosecutors of overkill in piling on the hate charge.

I couldn't find the piece in the paper (I'm assuming it was the Long Beach Times). Odd that Ofari Hutchison doesn't mention the paper or editor by name -- or that of the civil rights activist. (Perhaps he didn't want to give them publicity? Still, he's discussing something they did -- they should be named.)

Ultimately, the question is, could you imagine if the tables were turned? If somebody white blamed blacks for being the victims of some terrible mob attack, and intimated that the prosecutor should dial back a little?

Racism is racism is racism. As I wrote the other day:

...Either you're against all racism, or you really have to admit you're for racism, just as long as it isn't against your peeps.

Posted by aalkon at January 4, 2007 1:31 PM

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Comments

Try the LB Press Telegram. I think that's the more widely circulated paper.

Posted by: deja pseu at January 4, 2007 7:03 AM

Here's the LA Times report of the story...

www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lbhate30nov30,0,1245132.story?coll=la-home-headlines

as you can, see Weekly got the facts wrong (shocker). It wasn't "up to40" teens, it was nine guys and a girl.

Did you say that was in the Barby Dolls section of Long Beach?

Posted by: Hasan at January 4, 2007 7:13 AM

There was a specific black newspaper Hutchison wrote about. That's the one I found online that's in Long Beach.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 4, 2007 7:32 AM

The original crowd was reported 20-40 and of those, 10 were identified and of those, 9 were charged with hate crimes. Bixby Knolls residents gather to discuss brutal Halloween beating of three young women.
By Tracy Manzer, Staff writer
Long Beach Press Telegram
Article Launched:11/15/2006 11:01:01 PM PST
LONG BEACH - Hundreds of residents attended a community forum Wednesday to discuss the brutal mob beating of three young women in Bixby Knolls on Halloween.

The auditorium at Hughes Middle School, 3846 California Ave., was nearly filled to capacity for the two-hour session.

Almost all of those who spoke said they were horrified by the beating and wanted to know what could be done to avoid such crimes in the future.

The incident involved a group of 20 to 40 black youths who attacked three white victims, according to the victims and witnesses.
*************

The Long Beach Times has a website, but the story isn't on it.

Posted by: KateCoe at January 4, 2007 10:17 AM

This is interesting. The first time I've seen hate crimes legislation applied to crimes against (non-gay) whites. I think that hate crimes laws are dumb and do more to propagate feelings of victimization than to help make people safe, but if they're on the books, laws should be applied to all racially-motivated crimes equally.

Posted by: justin case at January 4, 2007 10:28 AM

The original crowd was reported 20-40 and of those, 10 were identified and of those, 9 were charged with hate crimes.


Bixby Knolls residents gather to discuss brutal Halloween beating of three young women.
By Tracy Manzer, Staff writer
Long Beach Press Telegram
Article Launched:11/15/2006 11:01:01 PM PST
LONG BEACH - Hundreds of residents attended a community forum Wednesday to discuss the brutal mob beating of three young women in Bixby Knolls on Halloween.

The auditorium at Hughes Middle School, 3846 California Ave., was nearly filled to capacity for the two-hour session.

Almost all of those who spoke said they were horrified by the beating and wanted to know what could be done to avoid such crimes in the future.

The incident involved a group of 20 to 40 black youths who attacked three white victims, according to the victims and witnesses.
*************

The Long Beach Times has a website, but the story isn't on it.

Posted by: KateCoe at January 4, 2007 10:40 AM

So we have people in this society that approach strangers, grab their crotch, and ask "Are you down with it?", and if they don't get a "yes", they administer a beating?


The end must be near.

Posted by: doombuggy at January 4, 2007 2:48 PM

The article asks, "Can a minority be a racist?"

This has to be among the dumbest questions I've ever seen asked. The answer, for the amazingly clueless is "YES!"

Posted by: Patrick at January 4, 2007 3:18 PM

Everyone remembers Rodney King. How many people remember Reginald Denny?

Posted by: winston at January 4, 2007 5:20 PM

Amy, thanks for posting this. I live in Lakewood, only a few miles from the site of the attack, and the news that this kind of BS could happen against ANYBODY-- white or black-- in or near my neighborhood is disheartening, to say the least.

Another interesting angle to the story is that the judge hearing the case seems to constantly be scrambling for ANY excuse, real or imagined, to dismiss evidence against the black youths, to the point that many believe a mistrial will most likely occur. He even threw out pertinent, and most likely quite damning, DNA evidence against the defendants, on the flimsy claim that processing it "would take too much time." Imagine the outrage at LA Times and most national media if the Judge appeared so uninterested in pursuing justice against racist whites!

Why the Long Beach DA isn't screaming to anyone who'll listen for a change of venue to a judge who might actually give a damn about the case, or for a speedy mistrial and retrial, is beyond me.

Posted by: qdpsteve at January 4, 2007 5:55 PM

I agree with you, Justin on hate crime legislation. We already have laws against crime. Isn't any vicious beating a "hate crime"?

And I remember Reginald Denny.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 4, 2007 9:08 PM

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