Civil rights activists and other community leaders called for hate crime charges on Monday against gang members suspected in attacks on an African American Compton family and threats against other Black residents.
The attacks sparked a rally at Compton City Hall after two men–reportedly from a Latino gang–were arrested for harassing and threatening a family to move out of the neighborhood because of their skin color.
As many as 65 percent of residents in Compton describe themselves as Hispanic or Latino–more than triple the number from 30 years ago, when only 21 percent of the population identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino.
The neighborhood, also known as “Tortilla Flats,” was always rundown, which made the homes more affordable for new immigrant families,” said LeRoy Bell, a Compton resident. The Hispanic presence is very strong in East Compton and is slowly becoming a stronger presence in West Compton even though the area is also surrounded by African American gangs. The incident was likely the result of the Mexican Mafia encouraging their gangs not to let more African American move into predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods.”
The street where the alleged attack and intimidation occurred is not only predominantly Latino, but is also known for its high levels of poverty and gang activity.
Marcus Grayson, a former Compton resident said he remembers visiting “Taco Flats” with his father in the 1970s without incident. “There was a Mexican Delicatessen that sold great menudo, and we would buy it. The problem is this new wave of Mexican immigrants that for some reason just dislike Blacks.”
Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson and other civil rights leaders converged on Compton City Hall Monday to call for hate crime charges against the gang members sought in the attacks.
“The racially motivated attack and threats continue a periodic disturbing pattern of violence and threats against African Americans in some Los Angeles County neighborhoods. The clear intent is to harass, intimidate and drive Blacks from ethnically changing areas. If the threatened violence continues, the coalition of civil rights leaders will call for and hold a march against racial fear in Compton,” said Hutchinson.
“The terrorizing of a family and the threat of intimidation of other families in Compton demands vigorous prosecution. The centerpiece of that must be the filing of hate crime charges against the suspects of the attacks. A tough hate crimes prosecution sends the strong message that hate violence in L.A. County will not be tolerated. A walk against racial fear will underscore that the community will not be intimidated by racist threats,” continued Hutchinson.
“I was shocked and saddened to learn about this senseless attack on an African American family in my hometown,” Assemblymember Isadore Hall said in a statement regarding the attack. “Like many, I am troubled by the apparent rise in anti-Black violence throughout Los Angeles County. No family should live in fear of gangs, especially not on their own street and in their own home. Over the coming days, I will be meeting with neighborhood and law enforcement leaders in Compton to help formulate a plan to take pro-active steps so that we can prevent incidents like this happening in our community.”
On Saturday, Feb. 2 the NAACP will hold another rally at the Compton Courthouse, 200 W. Compton Blvd., at noon.
Capt. Mike Parker of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said the intimidation began on Dec. 31, shortly after the family of adults and one minor moved into their home on 153rd Street.
One of the victims, a male, was walking home when a black SUV with four Hispanic males inside approached him, Parker said.
“The men identified themselves as members of a local street gang and told the victim that he and his family were not allowed to live in the area because they are Black and continually shouted racial epithets and threats of violence towards the victim,” said Parker.
The victim fled, but the gang members chased him down and beat him with metal pipes. It’s alleged that as Jeffrey Aguilar, 19, beat the victim with a pipe, Efren Marquez, 21, pointed a gun at the victim and threatened to shoot him.
According to reports, after the attack, the suspects drove off, but Marquez and Aguilar allegedly returned 30 minutes later with a group of 15 to 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.
The reports say one person in the group threw a bottle through the living room window of the victims’ home, shattering the glass, and the suspects continued to drive by the home several times a day, shouting racial epithets while ordering the family to leave the neighborhood.
Aguilar and Marquez were arrested after detectives from a sheriff’s gang unit served search warrants at 11 locations–nine in Compton and one each in Gardena and Rialto, Parker said.
They were booked at the sheriff’s Compton Station on suspicion of committing a hate crime for the purpose of violating civil rights with ability to commit violent injury on another.
Each was being held at the Compton Station jail in lieu of $95,000 bail, according to sheriff’s online booking records.
Anyone with more information about the case was urged to contact sheriff’s gang detectives at (310) 605-6500.
City News Service contributed to this article.