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Black man in Compton reported earlier hate crime by Latino gang

January 25, 2013 | 12:16 pm

 A graffiti-marred steeple on the Greater Holy Faith Baptist Church on 155th Street in Compton. Credit: Bob Chamberlin  / Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles County Sheriff's detectives said they are re-opening an investigation into a second incident in Compton in which a black man reported being threatened by Latino gang members and forced to move.

That move comes after the arrest of two gang members on Thursday, Jeffrey Aguilar, 19, of Compton, and Efren Marquez, 21, a resident of Riverside County, on suspicion of a hate crime by allegedly repeatedly attempting to terrorize the family, which moved into the neighborhood on New Year's Eve.

Lt. Richard Westin, who has worked in and around Compton since 1989, said that case was reported late last year.

“It was exactly the same scenario," Westin said. "He made a police report, but he was too scared at the time to follow through."

Westin said the man was approached by various gang members and informed that blacks don't live in the neighborhood. They used numerous racial slurs and told him to move, Westin said.

Although the ferociousness of the racially motivated attacks is unusual, Westin said it is a known aspect of the gang's behavior.

"This gang has always made it clear they have a racial hatred for black people," Westin said. "They repeatedly used racial epithets, they use racial hatred graffiti and they tag up the black church a lot."

Compton Councilwoman Yvonne Arceneaux said she was troubled to hear about the incident.

"I'm floored," she said. "That's blatant to tell a family you can't live in this area because you are black. That's just shocking."

Two decades ago when Arceneaux joined the Compton City Council, she said that older blacks occupied the well-maintained, small homes in the neighborhood.  But as they died or moved out of the community, Latinos moved in and the community's demographics shifted. 

Although she noted cultural differences between blacks and Latinos, she said she thought they were minor.

Royce Esters, president of the National Assn. for Equal Justice for America, said there has been an underlying issue for years, but he called this particular incident a "wake-up call."

"When we outnumbered the Spanish we never treated them like this," said the longtime resident and community organizer. "This is racism."

Arceneaux said she  plans to reach out to the family and get members of the City Council involved.

"We need to address these issues," she said. "Because if they continue to fester like this then it can spread to the city."

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--Richard Winton, Angel Jennings and Sam Quinones

 Photo: A graffiti-marred steeple on the Greater Holy Faith Baptist Church on 155th Street in Compton. Credit: Bob Chamberlin  / Los Angeles Times

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