Three Latino men have been arrested in suspicion of a terrifying hate crime committed against an African-American family. The suspects allegedly brought 15 to 20 gang members to surround the house, telling the family that it couldn't live in the predominantly Latino neighborhood.
Jeffrey Aguilar, 19, Efren Marquez, 21, and a teenage juvenile were arrested on Jan. 24 for committing the alleged hate crime in Compton, Los Angeles, according to the LA Sheriff's Department.
Shortly after an African-American family moved onto 154th Street, one of the male family members, while walking home on Dec. 31, was approached by four Latino men in an SUV. As the police describe the horrific event:
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. The gang members continually shouted racial epithets and threats of violence towards the victim. Fearing for his life, the victim ran home but was chased by the gang members who exited the vehicle and began beating the victim with metal pipes.
One of the suspects, 21-year-old Suspect Efren Marquez, allegedly pointed a gun at the victim and threatened to shoot him while he was allegedly being beaten with a metal pipe by 19-year-old Suspect Jeffrey Aguilar.
After the attack, the gang members fled in the vehicle. Marquez and Aguilar 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. Both Suspect Marquez and Aguilar were reportedly armed with handguns.
And the suspects allegedly continued to drive by the home several times a day, shouting racial slurs while ordering the family to leave the neighborhood -- until the family finally did.
Compton is a neighborhood with a history of racial violence. Part of the current tension stems from the neighborhood demographics changing from predominantly African-American to heavily Latino.
The gang allegedly involved in this hateful act is known to commit racially-motivated crimes. "This gang has always made it clear they have a racial hatred for black people," Lt. Richard Westin told the Los Angeles Times. "They repeatedly used racial epithets, they use racial hatred graffiti and they tag up the black church a lot."
"We need to address these issues," Compton Councilwoman Yvonne Arceneaux told the Times. "Because if they continue to fester like this then it can spread to the city."
In November of last year, an African-American family came forward about the racist acts that drove them out of Orange County, Calif., including racial slurs, having rocks thrown through their windows and having their car tires slashed. The Orange County Human Relations Commission fielded 19 similar reports of discrimination against black families in Orange County so far this year, KPCC reports. This reflects a steady rise over the last two years.
The Southland's growing racial diversity, coupled with the economic downturn, has fostered a welcoming environment for hate groups in the area, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Wade Michael Page, the deceased man accused of mass murder at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in August, moved to the OC in 2001 specifically for the region's hate music scene. There was also a sizable neo-Nazi rally in Pomona to protest California's Dream Act.
This hate map from the SPLC shows that California, with 84 hate groups, has the largest number of active hate groups nationwide.