For several Latino residents in Long Beach, California, a fun-filled day at the beach over Labor Day weekend ended abruptly when they discovered messages containing racial slurs on their cars.
The 'Mexican hate notes', scribbled on notebook paper and placed on parked cars in Belmont Shore, accused the car owners of taking over the beach beneath Cherry Avenue, according to OC Weekly.
"You Mexicans took over Cherry Beach -- (No white people allowed). Now you invade our beach. Go back to Baja, wetbacks,” read one of the notes on yellow notebook paper.
(Image courtesy of Griselda Suarez)
Another note said: "The Mexicans invaded this beach now -- sad."
Griselda Suarez, along with her partner, mother and brother, were at the beach for less than an hour when they returned to find the first note on the windshield of their car. After asking around and speaking to the police, Suarez discovered her car was not the only one targeted.
“I was shocked. I think the entire family was shocked,” Suarez, a lecturer at the Chicano and Latino Studies Department at California State University, Long Beach, told the Huffington Post. “We couldn't fathom why.”
However, the most difficult part of the situation was yet to come.
“The worst part of it all was having to translate the note for our mom,” Suarez said. “It was really ugly to do that.”
Suarez reported the incident to local authorities, who dismissed the racially charged notes as freedom of speech, according to OC Weekly.
While hate crimes in California are defined as a criminal act committed because of a person's disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or association with a group, not all incidents meet the threshold of criminal activity. These other occurrences, called bias incidents, are protected under the First Amendment since they do not blatantly threaten violence or imply the perpetrator has the ability to carrying out the threat.
Unfortunately, the Mexican hate notes was not the only incident that occurred during the long weekend. Less than three miles away, four Marines were arrested outside a gay bar, Silver Fox, early Monday morning for allegedly assaulting a bar patron.
Bar Manager John Barnes said the primary instigator appeared physically uncomfortable in the bar, and called Barnes "sweetheart" in a disparaging tone.
"You could tell by the tone of his voice that he was uncomfortable," Barnes told the Press-Telegram. "He was making a demeaning remark."
Long Beach was plagued by a string of hate crimes against gay men in 2011. Local authorities are investigating the assault at Silver Fox as a potential hate crime, according to Long Beach Police Department Spokeswoman Nancy Pratt.