The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

L.A. Sheriff Sees Race Behind Gang Murders

By David Holthouse on June 20, 2008 - 1:12 pm, Posted in Hate Crime

In December 2007, the Intelligence Report revealed that Latino gang members, acting on orders from Mexican Mafia “shot callers” inside California prisons, were terrorizing and murdering blacks in Los Angeles basely solely on the color of the victim’s skin — not because he or she was a member of a rival gang.

Last week, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) announced that the Report’s exposé of racially motivated “ethnic cleansing” campaigns in gang-ridden L.A. neighborhoods is the sole nominee, and therefore de facto winner, of this year’s national NABJ “Salute to Excellence” award in the “Magazine-Investigative” category. One day later, the Report’s groundbreaking reporting was validated by no less an authority than Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

“Some people deny it,” the veteran Latino sheriff wrote in a June 12 Los Angeles Times opinion column entitled, “In L.A, race kills.” “They say that race is not a factor in L.A.’s gang crisis; the problem, they say, is not one of blacks versus Latinos and Latinos versus blacks but merely one of gang members killing other gang members… . But they’re wrong. The truth is that, in many cases, race is at the heart of the problem. Latino gang members shoot blacks not because they’re members of a rival gang but because of their skin color. Likewise, black gang members shoot Latinos because they are brown.”

Furthermore, according to Baca, his office’s gang investigators believe that some of “L.A.’s so-called gangs” are little more than “loose-knit bands of blacks or Latinos roaming the streets looking for people of the other color to shoot.” Baca also confirmed the Report’s findings that many racially motivated murders in Los Angeles are carried out on orders from prison gang leaders.

“We have evidence linking inmates who are known as ‘shot callers’ directly to street shootings based entirely on race,” Baca wrote. “These shot callers … are affiliated with gangs, to be sure, and in many cases they may give the order to kill a particular person or a member of a particular gang. But if that person or gang cannot be found, the shot caller will often order the gunman to find someone — anyone — who is black or brown and shoot them instead. Gang affiliation does not matter. Only the color of the victim’s skin matters.”

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  • http://www.clottedcognition.com Liesl

    Congratulations on the award! I just finished the latest issue (it got lost in the college mail system for a bit) and am blown away as usual. There were things in there that I didn’t know but damn well should have known. You all deserve this award, among many others.