San Gabriel Valley Tribune

San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Stop gang, hate crimes

Tuesday, April 22, 2003 –

NFL hopeful Dennis Weathersby was shot in the back on Sunday evening in Duarte. The reason? He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, caught in gang warfare. But because gang rivalry in the city is drawn along racial lines, there’s little question that he also was targeted because he is a black man.

We are grateful this former Duarte High School standout with no gang affiliation is recovering, but the possibility exists for more violence jumping gang lines and involving the wider community.

The two most prominent rival gangs in Duarte the Latino Duarte Eastside and the African-American Duroc Crips have been exchanging gunfire and attempted retaliatory hits over the past few weeks.

Most certainly the chances are increased for more innocent victims, simply because they are Latino or African-American.

The same problems have cropped up in Azusa, where racial hatred became the focus of gangs. There, innocent families were firebombed in their homes.

Azusa officials were right to characterize the crimes as gang related. But as in Duarte, the victims had no connection with gangs. To help overcome some of the rising racial tension because of the gang crimes, Azusa established a commission to bridge racial gaps. So far, it is working well.

Because Azusa’s problems spanned several years, it is important that Duarte officials and the Sheriff’s Department that provides law enforcement for the city move quickly to route the gangs.

As in Azusa, it seems the gangs are branching out, targeting people based on race, not rivalry.

Friends believe Weathersby was shot because he was in front of the home of a known gang member. However, it is unlikely he would have been targeted had he been white or Latino.

Already sheriff’s officials have arrested leaders of the rival gangs. A good start. Now they must explore a gang injunction to further limit gang movement and put extra patrols where needed.

We’d like to see the FBI get involved early in the Duarte events. Clearly they are racially motivated, and as such, subject to FBI intervention. We cannot allow bigotry and hate crimes to flourish whether within street gangs or out. What’s the Ku Klux Klan but a gang of white thugs?

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