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October 30, 2007

Double Jeopardy: For Police Officers Only

Newsweek's article about the Mexican F13 gang's racially-motivated killings in L.A. is a compelling, if chilling, read.  But here's where I get annoyed:

For all the evidence of race-based targeting of victims, federal prosecutors haven't filed civil rights charges against F13 members, though Hernandez says the idea remains under investigation in the ongoing case. (Hernandez explains that the charges are difficult to prove and wouldn't increase prison time for those convicted of the other charges, anyway.) But law enforcement officials say the F13 members—and the Crips—frequently targeted victims based on race. "The way it came out was that any young black man could be the target of [F13] and any young Hispanic man was the target of the [black gang]," says Rosales. "All they see is race."

L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca tells NEWSWEEK that early wiretaps in the case recorded phone calls in which a senior F13 member ordered a young gang "soldier" to kill a particular East Coast Crip. But when "the soldier called back to say he couldn't find the [Crip], the gang leader told him to shoot any black," Baca says. "I disagree that it wasn't a hate crime."

On the other hand, if there's even a sniff of possible racial motivation in how police officers apply force against a suspect, it seems the feds are quick to run to grand juries to secure civil rights violation indictments. Why the discrepancy?

Oh, that's right, I forgot: Ramos and Compean. What was I thinking? When it comes to dealing with law enforcers, true justice often seems to be a distant consideration for the U.S. Attorney's office.

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Ahem, Allen - this works not just on the federal level, but state and local also. (At least in my state and locality.) It's racial profiling if a cop arrests more of one race than another, irrespective of demographics, economics, etc.

Doesn't the very idea of a "hate" crime presume that the perp's motivation can be transparently discerned?


Why the discrepancy, you ask. I confess that I don't understand it myself. Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line daily to keep the rest of us safe. They deserve our respect and utmost support, and the support of their federal brothers in law enforcement, for what they do.

This story is personal for me. I have three brothers. At one time all three were municipal police officers, now only one is because the other two were railroaded out by a biased senior officer and a city that wanted to get rid of it's department. My brothers along with three other officers were indicted on charges of civil rights violations, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice, to name a few, all in the attempt to keep a poor law student off the road who had a bad day,ran another driver off the road and was speeding through stop signs in residential neighborhoods on his way home, endangering lives. He walked with no conviction what so ever, while 4 decent officers lost their livelihoods.

The injustice was really hard to swallow.


Shoot, can we all say "Rodney King?" There were a total of 3 or 4 black men in that car; only one of them had any sort of force applied against him. If the officers were so terribly racist, why weren't all of them beaten?

I was a rookie dispatcher for LAPD back then. A friend and an acquaintance of mine became infamous for a set of MDT messages they sent regarding Hispanics; one of the messages said something like "just like Mexicans, nobody knows nothing". These were two Hispanic officers, members of La Ley (a Hispanic law enforcement officers' organization), frustrated over the lack of organization with an upcoming event--by other Hispanic officers!!

Several years ago in San Francisco, law enforcement refused to make any arrests when a group of militant gays broke into a church, disrupted services and desecrated the altar.

This is just what happens when you have a "victim" worldview; you have victims and victimizers (sound like Marx, perhaps?); the victims can do no wrong--and the victimizers get whatever is coming to them.

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