Citizens Against Hate

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Posts Tagged ‘Hate Crimes’

INNOCENCE LOST

Posted by nicolen on May 9, 2008

It was one of those fantastically beautiful Florida days in May of 2007. Asma Sidani and her two beautiful sons, one five and the other eleven thought it would be a perfect time for some Taco Bell.

Seated at a table in the Tampa Bay restaurant the two children awaited the return of their mother as she placed their order. Little did they realize that the stranger seated close by, 60-year-old Thomas Plaisted, hated them simply because they were Muslim.

It didn’t take long for the bile that often accompanies such hatred to rise within Plaisted. Unleashing a torrent of racial expletives and curse words upon the two children, Plaisted then spat food into the face of the youngest and began shoving the oldest.

Shouting that he wanted to break their necks, Plaisted was confronted by patrons and workers in the restaurant and forced to flee. However, the hateful onslaught would scar the two little ones for the rest of their lives.

Incongruously, once the police arrived, they refused to take a report furthering the outrage of both the mother and the onlookers and doing nothing to assuage the terrified youth.

In a society such as ours where people from all corners of the Earth converge and dwell and work together it is inconceivable that such things continue to occur. Often we are oblivious to the deleterious acts of the crazed and the depraved. Caught up in the hustle and bustle of our own daily routines, we have a tendency to take freedom, and the acceptance of others for granted.

The Sidani children were guilty of nothing more than being children born into a Muslim family. Anticipating a favorite meal, they expected nothing more than a happy repast with their mother. Yet, they were robbed of their innocence and their security by a thief so filled with venomous hatred as to rival a rattler on a hot August night.

Thomas Plaisted was, of all things, a school bus driver for the local district. Everyday he drove young students, of every color and ethnicity, to and from their educational institutes. His actions resulted in his firing and in his being charged with a hate crime.

The failure of the police in this matter, resulted in an apology and an assurance that such negligence would not happen again. However, the very fact that it occurred at all leaves one wondering how widespread such blatant negligence might be – and if it was negligence at all.

The children are scheduled to give depositions next week. In a civilized community of humanity, children are generally valued at a higher level. We have an innate sense of protecting those who have not yet matured into adulthood. In this case, we can only hope that the children will be able to work through the trauma that Plaisted inflicted upon their young psyches.

While the actions of Plaisted are despicable, they are not without precedence, however. All to often, hate crimes against others, even the young, are being committed. They leave behind not only the physical evidence but an emotional scarring that can and, often does, last a lifetime.

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Posted in Civil Rights, General Racism, Hate Crimes, Racism | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

END THE SILENCE

Posted by nicolen on April 24, 2008

TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE

RONZONE: End the silence

A day to remember violence against the LBGT community

By: Raquel Ronzone

Posted: 4/24/08

The charge against him is murder as a premeditated hate crime and gun possession. If convicted, the gunman will face 52 years to life in prison.

The most lenient sentence, then, means that Brandon McInerney would walk freely at age 66. Although they were not able yet to drive, the 14-year-old gunman and his 15-year-old target Lawrence King were not too young to become victims of a homophobic society.

Yes, both teenagers were victims – casualties of an America that is not absolutely accepting of homosexuality and is thus culpable for harboring the attitudes that spurred the act of fatal violence between the two boys.

Lawyers have a few weeks – until May 8, the date of McInerney’s arraignment hearing – to decide whether the teenager will remain in adult court or return to juvenile court. The poignant reality, however, is that no legal proceedings – not even the conviction and life sentence of Brandon McInerney, will eradicate the intolerant mentalities that incite homophobic crimes.

The rulings of medical professionals have not changed those mentalities either. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association finally removed homosexuality from the “Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders.”

The homophobic motives for the teenage gunman and the classification of the lifestyle as a psychological abnormality are without warrant at best and highly unethical at worst. King’s premature death demonstrates how society still views homosexuality with contempt, judging it as a deviation from normal and correct relationships.

Lawyers and psychiatrists cannot alter this narrow-minded perspective of sexual identity. That is our responsibility. We cannot numbly allow these groundless points of view to thrive, to murder and possibly incarcerate our school-age population.

Tomorrow, the 12th annual Day of Silence, you will have the opportunity to promote acceptance of homosexuality. Vows of silence taken by students will bring attention to the “name-calling, bullying and harassment – in effect, the silencing – experienced by LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) students and their allies,” according to DayofSilence.org. This year’s student-led call to action will honor the eighth-grade murder victim.

The Web site states that “500,000 students at nearly 4,000 K-12 schools, colleges and universities organized Day of Silence events” in the past. Despite this outpouring of support, some people refuse to respect others’ right to live without verbal and physical abuse.

The Day of Truth, a project of the Alliance Defense Fund, “was established to counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective,” according to DayofTruth.org. The ADF states, “It is part of [GLSEN’s] overall strategy to change how our society perceives homosexual behavior. But the Day of Silence is a misnomer because what is truly being silenced is the Truth.”

Can anyone deny that a 15-year old is dead because of his sexual orientation? Can anyone say that raising awareness of the discrimination that our youngest citizens face is dangerous enough to warrant a counterargument?

The “Christian perspective” allegedly promoted by the Day of Truth is far from Christian – turn to theological statements for the actual Christian understanding of homosexuality. The pastoral statement, “Always Our Children,” compiled by U.S. bishops in 1997, declared, “Every person has an inherent dignity because he or she was created in God’s image. A deep respect for the total person leads the church to hold and teach that sexuality is a gift of God … Everyone should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity.”

The intrinsic, divine worth of each person is indeed a true concept but one that will yield to public opinion of homosexuality if we do not take action. By taking a vow of silence tomorrow, you will commemorate Lawrence King, Brandon McInerney and countless other victims of homophobia. With time and diligence, we will no longer need to distinguish LGBT rights from the rights of other Americans.

——————–

Raquel Ronzone is a freshman from Philadelphia, Pa. She can be reached at raquel.ronzone@villanova.edu.

Posted in Gender/Orientation Discrimination, Hate Crimes | Tagged: , , , | 14 Comments »

A TANGLED WEB OF MURDER

Posted by nicolen on February 1, 2008

Home / News / Local
Tangled web of murder
An investigation of two brutal killings in Hingham in 2005 exposes a seamy underworld of crime, violence, and hatred stretching across the South Shore

boston.jpg

 A single cross marks the site near Hingham’s Bare Cove Park where two homeless men were bludgeoned to death in 2005 in an old military bunker. Inset are James Winquist (left) and Eric Snow at their arraignments in Hingham District Court. (Matthew J. Lee / Globe Staff; Inset: AP Photos)
Email|Print| Text size – + By Milton J. Valencia
Globe Staff / January 31, 2008
The scene was undeniably gruesome. Two homeless men had been bludgeoned to death in the old military bunker they shared near Bare Cove Park in Hingham. Blood was everywhere. One victim’s hand had been cut off. The crime, in the spring of 2005, was the worst the comfortable seaside town had seen in recent memory.

more stories like thisAs police have pursued the killers, they have encountered an equally violent local underworld reaching further across the South Shore. It is a world in which players go by nicknames such as “Twisted” and “Mental” and “Killa,” and the stories they have since told police have only helped confuse the prosecution’s case.

So sketchy is the list of witnesses, and so tangled the versions of events, that the confusion could undermine the trial against the two men eventually charged with the crime: James Winquist, 24, of Bridgewater and Eric Snow, 26, of Weymouth. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Defense attorneys have submitted a series of court requests, and one plans to seek dismissal of the case. While court motions are routine in criminal matters, the lawyers say in this case they’re based on questionable evidence and testimony gleaned from witnesses just as shady as the suspects.

“Every person who said they heard anything is being reported by the government as being a liar by everyone else,” said Gerald T. FitzGerald, a New Bedford lawyer who represents Snow.

“The bottom line here is, what is the quality of evidence here?”

Prosecutors would not discuss the case or the witnesses, saying it’s up to the courts to decide what happened.

“The appropriate place to deal with this is before a court of law,” said Bridget Norton Middleton, a spokeswoman for the Plymouth County district attorney’s office. “And that’s where we’ll do it.”

Nevertheless, the list of court requests and testimony is set to expose the backstory of the murders, and what happened that night in the dark woods just off a walking trail at the Back River in Hingham.

Court records show that prosecutors have been faced with contradictory testimony. A witness pointed to one man before blaming another. A man who witnesses said bragged about committing the murders in an apparent celebration of the killings is now himself a star witness.

These witnesses, meanwhile, have sought immunity and lenient sentences for a variety of crimes, some of which are just as shocking as the murders.

Violence and mental illness are very much part of the network of alleged killers, witnesses, and affiliates in the case, court records show. Many in the group are white supremacists. Some brag of earning their “bones,” a reference to taking a life, according to court documents.

As one police official put it, “It’s quite a crew.”

Chilling chronology

The bodies of William Chrapan, 44, and David Lyon, 46, were found May 9, 2005, in the military bunker closest to the Bare Cove Park trail. Medical examiners said they were killed sometime within 10 days before their bodies were discovered.

Two months after the killings, in July, a witness led police to a hand that was buried near power lines in Bridgewater, near Eric Snow’s home. Tests later showed it belonged to Chrapan.

There, the investigation began. It led detectives from Hingham to Bridgewater to Weymouth, and eventually to Snow, Winquist, and their friends – a group of men who have served time, espouse white supremacy, and call themselves the Brothers of Blood.

Winquist and Snow met in 2003 in jail, where both were introduced to a loose network of local white supremacists. When he returned home, Winquist hung a Nazi flag in the basement of his home in Hingham. Snow has tattoos that promote the white supremacist movement.

Whether the suspects’ white supremacy views are relevant in this case is a matter of dispute. The victims were white, and friends of the suspects and a witness in the case, according to court records, describe Brothers of Blood as “a joke crew” that may advocate white supremacy but did not follow the discipline of established gangs such as the Aryan Brotherhood. Snow had a black friend, for instance.

A defense attorney says prosecutors’ mention of white supremacy is a ploy. But police say the white supremacy network the two young men discovered while behind bars eventually drew them to a dark world that celebrates murder.

Winquist, known as “Twisted,” had a history of breaking into cars, homes, and boats on the Hingham and Weymouth waterfront. In 2003, the year he met Snow in jail, Winquist was charged with stabbing a man in Harvard Square. He was later acquitted in that attack.

Snow, who has “Killa” tattooed on his neck, has been charged with such crimes as assault with a hand gun, and assault and battery. In one case, after the murders, authorities say he took part in a home invasion, and was armed. He served two years in jail for home invasion and armed assault with a gun.

William Sylvestre, a 28-year-old who dated Snow’s sister, served two years in jail for his role in that home invasion. According to court records, Sylvestre had earlier told police that Snow had told him that he and Winquist killed people.

Mike Alfano, 27, known as “Mental,” spent time in jail for nearly killing a man with a sledgehammer in 2003. He then cooperated with the FBI as an informant in hopes of getting a favorable sentence, according to records.

Alfano, described in court records as the leader of the Brotherhood of Blood, is a key witness against Snow and Winquist, according to court records. He sought leniency from prosecutors for his testimony in this case, and a detective said “we would assist him in any way we could if the information he provided to us was beneficial,” according to a defense attorney in the case, citing police reports.

Alfano originally told police that another member of their network, David Courage, claimed he committed the killings, according to court records. Now, Alfano says Snow and Winquist did it.

Courage, 18, of Hingham, bragged about the killings, according to court records that cite witness testimony. He was initially at the center of the murder investigation, according to investigators. He later testified against Snow and Winquist with the promise that he would not be prosecuted for what he said, and he is now a key witness, court records show.

Courage could not be reached for comment, but a prosecutor said in court that he denies testimony by defense witnesses that he waved the severed hand around at a party.

Ryan Bois, 20, of Weymouth, was arrested in August on charges he kidnapped, raped, and murdered his 6-year-old cousin. Just before he was arrested, Bois called Winquist eight times on his cellphone, according to prosecutors. Prosecutors never explained why the calls were made, and friends of Winquist said he did not answer the calls.

But within days after Bois was arrested, police started knocking on Winquist’s door, asking about the calls. A month later, Winquist and Snow were arrested and charged with the Hingham murders.

They were indicted in October. Bois, in a mental institution pending his murder case, is now a witness against Snow and Winquist.

Court records describe testimony from witnesses who name Winquist and Snow as the killers. One witness told police she was passed out on a couch in the basement of Winquist’s home and let the two men borrow her car. An hour later, Snow and Winquist came back laughing, saying they “beat up some bums up the street.” The witness said Winquist and Snow took off their clothes and put them and bats into a black trash bag.

The same witness said she drove Snow to his home in Bridgewater that night and watched him bury a bag near the power lines behind his home. The witness told police she used her car to light the scene for Snow.

Police also describe a visit they made to that same scene in July 2005, based on a tip by a confidential witness. There, they found Chrapan’s hand, apparently slit at the wrist. Another witness describes a party at Winquist’s home, located a half-mile from the military bunker where the murders occurred. The witness told police that Snow and Winquist had kept the hand in a plastic bag and cooler, and passed it around while they ridiculed the victims.

The two imitated the homeless men’s pleas for mercy, and the gurgling sound they made as they died, witness later told police.

It was after that, according to court records, that Snow and Winquist told their friends they “made their bones.”

Epilogue

All that remains at the murder site now is a mound of dirt, with a cross that somebody placed on top. Hingham officials demolished the military bunker after the bodies were discovered.

Two and a half years later, the court case is inching forward. Winquist is due in court next week. Both men are being held without bail – Snow in Plymouth County and Winquist in Norfolk County.

Winquist’s lawyer has requested more information from prosecutors about the investigation. Snow’s lawyer plans a motion to have the case dismissed, and has sought the criminal histories of witnesses in the case, seeking information that “might be used to impeach a witness.”

Posted in Hate Crimes, Homeless, skinhead | Tagged: , , , , | 51 Comments »

The United States of Jamerica

Posted by nicolen on December 13, 2007

“Tis the Season…”

The United States of Jamerica

Posted in Anti-Semitism | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Another Jena In The Making?

Posted by nicolen on October 7, 2007

Is there another Jena, LA in the making here? While school officials try to downplay last weeks events the community seems to have a totally different point of view.

erik-and-erasmo-cora.jpghttp://local.lancasteronline.com/4/210550

Warwick: 12 students took part in harassment
Superintendent says district action to be taken and Internet sites being watched; freshman target in racial incident tells of experience

By PAUL FRANZ, Staff writer
Sunday News

Published: Oct 07, 2007 12:20 AM EST

LITITZ, Pa – Editor’s note: Some of the language in this report might be offensive to readers.
Warwick School District Superintendent John George said 12 high school students who were involved in Wednesday’s racial threats against minority students were identified by police.

“We have the names of the students involved,” he said Saturday night. “They are being monitored.”

The incident at Warwick High School involved at least 12 white students harassing minority students with racial epithets and throwing trash at them. Several students also told the Sunday News at week’s end that some white students had threatened to bring guns to school.

There has been no official confirmation of a gun threat.

However, the racial incident Wednesday was taken seriously and prompted teachers at the school to contact officials and borough police Thursday.

The next day, police greeted students at school. Personal belongings were searched and metal detectors were used.

A recommendation by the district board to take action against the 12 will be forthcoming at an undetermined date, George said.

“The police will be looking into pressing charges,” he said.

Police cited one male student with disorderly conduct last week.

Erik Cora, a black 14-year-old freshman, said he witnessed the event and was targeted by the 12 white students.

Cora said that the perpetrators, who often wear clothing with Confederate flags and hang out in front of the school, “never started anything violent until Wednesday.”

“All my friends told me [Warwick] is a white, racist school,” Cora said, of warnings he received before the incident from friends who do not attend the school.

The student said the incident began early in the morning, before school started after “Confederate gang members,” who are also students, began throwing paper and candy at him and two of his friends, who are also black.

“One of them threw a paper ball at my friend and called him a ‘nigger,’ ” Cora said. “We tried to move away, but they started throwing other things.

“The rednecks said they wanted to bring guns,” he said. “They stare at us and give us glares.”

By the end of Wednesday, he said the “Confederate gang members” wanted to fight minority students.

Another incident occurred in the school’s lunchroom, where a verbal altercation took place, George said. Students told the Sunday News that altercation took place Thursday.

An investigation into the incident by police and school officials is ongoing.

“We need to do some healing in our community,” George said.

Attempts to reach high school officials and school board members were unsuccessful Saturday. Lititz Borough police forwarded all press inquiries to the superintendent’s office.

Although a statement issued by the district says, “We are confident that the issue under investigation is limited in scope,” parents and students at the high school think otherwise.

One 14-year-old female freshman said that she was aware of students who said they are a part of the Ku Klux Klan.

Erasmo Cora Jr., Erik’s father, criticized the school district’s handling of the incident. If there have been previous racial threats, Cora wasn’t aware of any.

“Nobody says anything. [The district] tries to cover anything up,” said Cora. “That wasn’t fair of the district or the school [not to notify parents immediately].”

Several students, whom other Warwick students identified as having been among those involved in Wednesday’s incident, maintain MySpace pages on the Internet, where they boast about their trucks and talk of “redneck row,” the area in the student parking lot where they park and hang out.

On one 17-year-old student’s page, a friend commented Oct. 4, the day of the incident: “hey man that was bullshit this morning but it was kinda funny i think you scared the shit out of that cop.”

One 17-year-old Lititz youth, who on his MySpace page identifies himself as a Warwick student, has a history of posting to Stormfront.org, a white supremacist Web site owned by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Don Black. There is no confirmation that the student was involved in Wednesday’s incident.

Tuesday, the student posted a message to the site: “all my friends have Rebel flags mounted on there [sic] truck beds now. It’s funny as hell seeing them pull in, and hearing the handful of black kids at my school yell at them. You just got to give it right back to them.”

The user also maintains a site on MySpace that has a picture of himself holding what appears to be a shotgun with the caption “border hoppers beware.”

“We have officials monitoring various Internet sites,” George said.

Parents apparently weren’t convinced that their kids were safe at school Friday, despite the fact that students were checked with metal detectors by police and searched.

“I will keep my stepdaughter out until something can be done, more than searching [the students],” said Charles Fatjo of Lititz.

The school sent out a message to parents that they could take their children out of school if they were “feeling uncomfortable.”

By Friday afternoon, scores of parents were taking their children out of school. By 1:30 p.m., about 500 students were signed out by their parents, according to district spokeswoman Lori Zimmerman.

Warwick has one of the lowest diversity rates of the county’s 16 public school districts. About 94 percent of the students are white, according to the Department of Education’s Web site for the 2006-07 school year.

Police said that no “items” were found in the searches of students Friday, and the district continues to describe the event Wednesday as a “nonviolent incident with racial overtones.”

A district statement said that all extracurricular and athletic activities will proceed on schedule, and that police will search students again on Tuesday when classes resume after the Columbus Day holiday.

It is unknown whether the extra security will continue past Tuesday.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

UH…ROANOKE, WE HAVE A PROBLEM

Posted by nicolen on September 29, 2007

UH…ROANOKE, WE HAVE A PROBLEM

Uh…what part of unacceptable behavior does this man not understand? Being a slumlord and leaching off of those less fortunate than you is a very distasteful thing – but threatening children and encouraging others to lynch the youth known as the Jena 6, is a whole helluva lot more than that. Yes…Roanoke, we DO have a problem.

William Alexander White resides in Roanoke, Virginia and does his dirty deeds on a daily basis. He has been little else than a constant embarrassment to the Star City. When he started a riot in Toledo, the media blared that the Roanoke Nazi was responsible and Roanoke has worked hard to keep its’ image of a beautiful city fighting off the shame that White has heaped upon it time and again.

Thursday night, Bill White went off the charts in his bid for appeasement of his narcissistic yearnings for attention. Known for his grandstanding and news-grabbing nature, White published a brief article entitled “Lynch the Jena 6 – We are Anxiously Awaiting Their Release.” In that article, White said, “If these n*****s are released or acquitted, we will find out where they live and make sure that white activists and white citizens in Louisiana know it, we’ll mail directions to their homes to every white man in Louisiana if we have to in order to find someone willing to deliver justice.”

Soon after the first article, another headline screamed “Addresses Of Jena 6 N*****s – In Case Anyone Wants To Deliver Justice.” He then published the phone numbers and addresses of five of the six teens families.

The day after peaceful protests were held by thousands of Americans in Jena, Louisiana and across the country the story has become all about the Nazi who hails from Roanoke – so, yes, Roanoke, we DO have a problem.

Bill White and I have sparred with each other for a number of years now and we don’t like each other very much. With Bill, just as with Hal Turner, the FBI has been supposedly “watching” him for quite sometime. On Friday, the Roanoke Times reported that an FBI Official claimed that they would “seek a prosecutive opinion at the appropriate time.

Well…the time IS appropriate. The Jena 6 are high school kids and their families are being harassed and terrorized by a handful of neo-Nazi’s who derive some sort of perverse pleasure from intimidating others on the phone and behind the keyboard. But…who knows what unstable individual will decide to carry out Bill White’s threats?

Enjoying the attention that he is getting on this, he claimed that his quote about putting a bullet through their heads that was used in a segment of CNN was not the worse thing that he had said on the Vonbluvens Show and that they should have used the one where he suggested that they hang them in the town square and use them as a human sacrifice.

It’s one thing to shout and chant back and forth at each other across police barriers. It’s one thing for anti-racists and Nazi’s to verbally tear each other apart on the internet. But, It’s a whole other ball game when you place children in harm’s way. It’s a new day for Bill White, because he really crossed the line.

There is a problem in Roanoke – and we have to help the good people in that town – NOW. Floyd Cochran was there last week – and imparted some words of wisdom – and he will be back. In the meantime…Bill White has to be neutralized, and it’s time for more than just “watching” by law-enforcement. It’s time for Bill to be brought to justice.

Together we can help Roanoke. First, we must keep cool heads. Second, we must reach out to all of the anti-racist groups in the area and form a coalition – NOW. Not tomorrow, but today. We witnessed, first hand, this week what untiy can do. We must support each other with our time, expertise, and money. We must educate the community and build our forces over the next few weeks – not months or years. We must display our outrage and intolerance of threats, intimidation, and terrorism against children and others targeted by Bill White.

The Roanoke NAACP has been battling and trying to combat the messages of hate that this man drools. They need our help. For those of you who want to assist us in these endeavors, please contact any and all of the following:

nicolenichols@sbcglobal.net

frcochran@yahoo.com

dlj@onepeoplesproject.com

admin@citizensagainsthate.com

Roanoke NAACP
PO Box 12362
Roanoke, VA 24025
540-344-2424

The only way to deal with Bill White is through a unified, community-wide action. The gloves just came off – and we are in it for the long haul.

“Take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” (Elie Wiesel)

Posted in Hate Crimes, Racism, Racist Profiles | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »