Sacto 9-1-1
July 5, 2013
Scuffle escalates into alleged hate crime at Auburn mini-mart

Auburn officers say that a man who wanted to take a cool drink on a very hot day got arrested for a hate crime on Thursday.

Officers responded to a 7-Eleven convenience market, 500 Auburn Ravine Road, about 10 a.m. Thursday where they say James Counts, 20, got into a scuffle with a store clerk. The clerk had accused Counts of taking a fountain drink from the store without paying.

Police say that during the incident, Counts allegedly made derogatory comments about the clerk's race. The clerk received minor injuries but he did not seek medical treatment.

Counts was arrested on suspicion of robbery and committing a hate crime, police said.

His bail was set at $50,000.

March 14, 2013
Police arrest Davis man in alleged hate crime attack

By Darrell Smith
dvsmith@sacbee.com

Police have made an arrest in the brutal beating of a Davis man that investigators are calling a hate crime.

Clayton Garzon, 19, of Davis was arrested by Davis officers Thursday without incident, department officials announced. He faces allegations of assault causing great bodily injury, committing a hate crime, assault with a deadly weapon, stalking, inflicting bodily injury during commission of a felony and committing a felony while on release from custody. He will be booked at Yolo County Jail in Woodland on the allegations.

Garzon is accused in an early morning attack Sunday on Lawrence "Mikey" Partida, 32, of Davis. Partida had just left a house party and was near 3rd and I streets about 3:50 a.m. when he was jumped and severely beaten, rendering him unconscious with major injuries, police said. Partida was taken to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento where he remains hospitalized.

January 22, 2013
Yuba County men accused of hate crime in Marysville attack

Three Yuba County men have been arrested on federal hate crime charges for what authorities allege was a racially motivated attack on an African American woman and a white man in Marysville in April 2011.

Billy James Hammett, 28, and Perry Sylvester Jackson, 27, both of Marysville, were arrested today and arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dale A. Drozd. Both entered not-guilty pleas, according to a federal Department of Justice news release. They are scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez on Jan. 29.

The third man, Anthony Merrell Tyler, 32, of Olivehurst, surrendered today in Sacramento and is to be arraigned Wednesday.

September 4, 2012
State attorney general announces drop in hate crimes in 2011

California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced today that hate crimes in the state decreased 4 percent in 2011.

A total of 1,060 hate crimes were reported statewide in 2011, down from 1,107 reported in 2010, according to a news release.

Hate crimes involving race, ethnicity or national origin were the most common type of hate crime in the last 10 years and represented 57.5 percent of all hate crime incidents in 2011, officials said. Anti-black hate crimes accounted for 29.5 percent of all hate crimes. Since 2002, anti-Hispanic hate crimes have decreased by 43.6 percent.

June 19, 2012
Davis superintendent calls hangman's noose isolated incident

A Davis school leader said the appearance of a hangman's noose on a high school goal post is an isolated incident.

"Hate and intolerance stem from fear and ignorance," said Winfred B. Roberson, Jr., superintendent of the Davis Joint Unified School District. "This isolated event does not distract us from the positive work and cultural responsiveness that has taken place in DJUSD and the City of Davis."

At the same time, a Davis community activist is calling for a public meeting in the wake of the noose being found hanging from the goal post at Davis High School.

May 4, 2012
Vigel, Bassett sentenced to life terms for Elk Grove murder

20120504_HA_SENTENCING0185B.jpgA Sacramento street gang member and his girlfriend were both sentenced to life terms without possibility of parole today for the shooting death of an innocent woman at a party in Elk Grove three years ago.

Raymond Thomas Vigel, now 23, and Tamara Nicole Bassett, 26, also were sentenced to three additional life terms for the attempted murder of three other party goers who were struck by gunfire in the shooting that took place around 1 a.m. on April 19, 2009.

Alison Joelle Freeseha, 25, the truck-driving mother of two small children, was killed when Vigel aimed and fired 10 shots into a garage on Paseo Del Sol Way.

February 17, 2012
Man sentenced in hate-crime assault at Elk Grove bowling alley

A man who admitted to an assault at the Strikes Family Entertainment Center in Elk Grove last June was sentenced today.

Joel Baltazar Olivarez pleaded guilty to assaulting Seth Parker and admitted to a hate crime enhancement. Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Steve White sentenced Olivarez to three years in prison, but the sentence was stayed pending successful completion of five years of formal probation, according to Sacramento County District Attorney's Office news release.

Terms and conditions of Olivarez's probation include one year in county jail, drug and/or alcohol treatment, and 240 hours of community service to be served in an organization or program within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community. If Olivarez violates any term or condition of his probation in the next five years, the stay will be lifted and he will be required to serve the prison term, officials said.

December 16, 2011
Man faces prison after pleading guilty to purported anti-gay attack

A 30-year-old man pleaded guilty Thursday to felony battery charges in an attack outside an Elk Grove bowling alley that police had labeled a hate crime, according to online court records.

Joel Baltazar Olivarez faces a maximum term of four years in state prison when he is sentenced Jan. 27 by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White for the beating in the parking lot of the Strikes Family Entertainment Center.

Detectives have said Olivarez confronted Seth Parker, 26, of Sacramento on the night of June 5. Olivarez allegedly punched Parker in the face during an argument, then fled with a companion. Parker suffered facial fractures.

Elk Grove police characterized the beating as a hate crime because Olivarez directed an anti-gay remark at his victim.

September 30, 2011
UC Davis reports some crimes up, others down for 2010

Liquor-related arrests were up, drug arrests were down and assaults pretty much held steady last year on UC Davis property compared to the previous year, according a press release from the university.

The annual statistics were prepared for the federal Clery Act.

"UC Davis is a relatively safe campus, but no community of our size is crime-free," said campus Police Chief Annette Spicuzza.

Comparisons between 2010 and 2009:

September 20, 2011
Man injured in hate-motivated assault, Sacramento police say

By Melody Gutierrez
mgutierrez@sacbee.com

Police are seeking the public's help to identify a suspect who seriously injured a man in what they area calling a hate crime. Sacramento Police said two men were holding hands while walking around 2 a.m. Saturday along J Street near 18th Street when a man in his 20s stopped his SUV and yelled sexual epithets at the victim and his friend.

When the victim and his friend continued to walk away, the driver got out and struck one of the men in the head with a heavy object before fleeing in the SUV.

The victim was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries.

September 17, 2011
Davis man charged with hate crime after reported beating

By Phillip Reese
preese@sacbee.com

Davis police have arrested and charged a man with committing a hate crime after he allegedly beat and kicked a woman because of her Russian heritage.

Police say Peter Lloyd Zuniga, 25, of Davis, walked into the Quick Shop Market at 1964 E. Eighth St. about 7:40 a.m. Saturday and asked the clerk for some matches. When the clerk said she didn't have any matches, Zuniga allegedly stole two lighters and left. He came back 10 minutes later, police said, and attacked the clerk, beating and kicking her in the head several times. The clerk, a 45-year-old Davis resident, suffered a broken nose and minor injuries.

Zuniga is in the Yolo County Jail on a $180,000 bail after being arrested on suspicion of robbery, felony assault and committing a hate crime. After his arrest, Zuniga also allegedly threatened to kill specific police officers, so he's also been charged with threatening public officials.

August 16, 2011
Antelope residents victims of widespread tagging spree

Residents of a wide swath of the Antelope community awoke this morning to graffiti on fences, cars, garages, mailboxes and an elementary school.

Sacramento County sheriff's spokesman Deputy Jason Ramos said a man walking his dog called the Sheriff's Department about 7 a.m. to report that he had observed a lot of spray painting and tagging that appeared to have white supremacist overtones.

Ramos said the graffiti included swastikas and some references to white supremacist gangs, but much of the tagging appeared to have no particular significance. The word "Minkus," believed to be a tagger's moniker or signature, appeared at several locations, Ramos said.

August 11, 2011
CA Attorney General: Hate crimes held steady in 2010

Though the overall number of hate crimes reported in California in 2010 remained constant when compared to 2009, the number of crimes against Hispanics increased nearly 50 percent, according to the Attorney General's office.

In 2010, 119 anti-Hispanic hate crimes were reported in the state, up from 81 in 2009, according to a news release from the office of Kamala Harris.

A total of 1,107 hate crimes were reported in 2010, compared to 1,100 in 2009, the release states.

June 14, 2011
Suspect arrested in attack at Elk Grove entertainment center

The Elk Grove Police Department announced that a 30-year-old Sacramento man has been arrested in connection with the June 5 attack on a man in the parking lot of Strike's Family Entertainment Center in Elk Grove.

Joel Olivarez is accused of aggravated battery.

Detectives believe that Olivarez confronted Seth Parker, 26, of Sacramento at 11:19 a.m. June 5. Olivarez allegedly punched Parker in the face during an argument, then fled with a companion. Parker suffered facial fractures.

June 14, 2011
Sikhs offer reward in alleged anti-gay attack in Elk Grove

The Sacramento Sikh Temple is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the man responsible for the attack on Seth Parker outside Strikes Family Entertainment Center in Elk Grove on June 5.

Parker, 26, of Sacramento got into argument with the suspect in the parking lot of the center in the 3400 block of Laguna Boulevard. The suspect punched Parker in the face, then fled with a companion into a nearby residential neighborhood, according the Elk Grove Police Department. Parker suffered multiple facial fractures in the attack.

Parker believes he was attacked because he is gay and that the attack should be investigated as a hate crime. He said at least one of the two men directed homophobic slurs at him after Parker tried to discourage them from bothering his female companions.

June 6, 2011
Natomas man sentenced to prison in attack on Sikh taxi driver

A Natomas man has been sentenced to 13 years in state prison for his attack on a Sikh taxi driver in West Sacramento in November.

Pedro Ramirez, 42, was sentenced Friday by Yolo County Superior Court Judge Timothy Fall. Ramirez pleaded no-contest March 7 to a felony assault charge and admitted that his attack on cab driver Harbhajan Singh was a hate crime. Ramirez also admitted that he caused great bodily injury to the victim, according to a Yolo County District Attorney's Office news release.

Johnny Morales Jr., 33, of West Sacramento, who had a lesser role in the attack, also pleaded no contest to a felony assault and was previously sentenced to felony probation.

April 25, 2011
Two Olivehurst men arrested, third sought in alleged hate crime

Two Olivehurst men have been arrested in connection with an April 18 robbery and assault at a Linda gas station.

The attack, which is being investigated as a hate crime, was captured on store surveillance video.

Yuba County Sheriff Steve Durfor announced today that detectives have arrested two suspects.

Perry Jackson, 25, was arrested Wednesday and Anthony Tyler, 30, was arrested today. Both were booked into Yuba County Jail on suspicion of criminal threats, hate crime, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery and attempted carjacking.

March 7, 2011
Two men enter no-contest pleas in attack on Sikh taxi driver

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

Two men accused of attacking a Sikh taxi driver in November entered no-contest pleas today in Yolo County Superior Court, with one man admitting that his attack was a hate crime.

Pedro Ramirez, 42, of Natomas, pleaded to a felony assault charge and admitted that his attack on cab driver Harbhajan Singh in West Sacramento was a hate crime, according to a Yolo County District Attorney's Office news release. He also admitted that he caused great bodily injury to the victim.

Johnny Morales Jr., 33, of West Sacramento, who had a lesser role in the attack, pleaded to felony assault.

March 7, 2011
Reward in Sikh attacks now nearly $30,000

RP SIKH PRESS CONF.JPGBy Stephen Magagnini
smagagnini@sacbee.com

Nearly 100 community leaders including Sikhs from throughout Northern California gathered today at the West Sacramento gurdwara to announce a reward of nearly $30,000 for information leading to the arrest of those who shot two elderly men on their afternoon walk in Elk Grove last Friday.

The reward is for information about the fatal shooting of Surinder Singh and the wounding of his friend, Gurmej Atwal, as they walked along the street. The violence has shocked members of the Sikh community. Many fear they were shot because they were mistaken for being Muslim and are victims of a hate crime.

At today's event, Elk Grove Police Capt. Bryan Noblett said witnesses at the scene described a 1999-2003 beige or tan Ford F150 pickup truck in the area of the shooting.

January 26, 2011
2 vacant Sacramento Co. buildings burn; arson investigated

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Arson is blamed for one early morning fire in Carmichael and not been ruled out in a second blaze that happened in North Highlands.

The first fire in two units of a vacant four-unit building at 6041 Northcrest Circle in Carmichael was reported at 12:46 a.m.

Fire investigators have ruled the fire was caused by an arsonist.

November 22, 2010
FBI: Hate crimes dip in US, California, Sacramento

By Stephen Magagnini
smagagnini@sacbee.com

Hate crimes across the United States are at their lowest level since 1994, and down 15 percent between 2009 and 2008, according to an analysis of FBI statistics from all 50 states that was released today.

California saw a 26 percent drop from 2008 to 2009.

Database: See 2009 hate crime stats for cities, counties

The FBI's 2009 Hate Crime Statistics Act report indicates crimes directed against individuals because of race, religion, sexual orientation and national origin all declined. In 2009, the FBI reported 6,604 hate crimes, a decrease from 7,783 in 2008.

Of the 4,422 law enforcement agencies in the United States that reported their 2009 cases to the FBI, only 2,034 - 14.1 percent - reported even a single hate crime.

Sacramento reported nine hate crimes in 2009, compared with 13 in 2008, 20 in 2007, 37 in 2006, and 50 in 2005, according to an Anti-Defamation League analysis of FBI statistics.

"In California, the number went down from 1,381 crimes reported in 2008 to 1,015 in 2009," said Michael Lieberman, Washington Counsel for the ADL.

Religion-based crimes decreased from 1,519 in 2008 to 1,303 in 2009. The number of reported anti-Jewish crimes also decreased, from 1,013 in 2008 to 931 in 2009. The majority - 71 percent of reported religion-based crimes - were directed against Jews and Jewish institutions. Reported crimes against Muslims increased slightly from 105 to 107.

Hate crimes directed at gay men and lesbians decreased for the first time in four years - from 1,297 in 2008 to 1,223 in 2009.

Hate crimes against Hispanics continued to decline - from 561 in 2008 to 483 in 2009.

The Anti-Defamation League welcomed the drop in the number of hate crimes documented by the FBI, but expressed disappointment that more than 60 U.S. cities with 100,000-plus populations did not participate in the annual study.

A victim of hate violence is much less likely to report the crime to a police department if he or she does not believe the crime will be treated with the seriousness it merits, the ADL said.

FBI hate crime stats

Call The Bee's Stephen Magagnini, (916) 321-1072.

November 10, 2010
DA: Roseville man pleads guilty to assault, terrorist threat

By Bee Staff

A 38-year-old Roseville man faces a stipulated sentence of 19 years and four months in a state prison for incidents in 2009 that included an assault with a firearm and making a terrorist threat, according to the Placer County District Attorney's Office.

clip_image002.jpgMathew C. Hubbard (left) of Roseville pleaded guilty Monday in Placer County Superior Court to the two felony counts and also admitted to allegations of committing a hate crime in the assault case and to having been convicted of previous felonies, according to a news release from the DA's Office.

Prosecutor Stephanie Macumber said the defendant entered the pleas and admitted the special allegations on the day his case was scheduled to begin trial.

In one of the incidents in July 2009, Hubbard threatened another person with a knife. In a separate case a month later, Hubbard pointed a rifle at an African American man and made racial taunts.

Superior Court Judge Mark S. Curry set the sentencing for Dec. 17.

October 5, 2010
UC Davis police seek two men in alleged hate-motivated incident

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

University of California, Davis, police are seeking two men in connection with what is believed to be a hate-motivated incident that occurred Sunday night on the UC Davis Quad.

Two people were approached in the quad by two men who yelled abusive comments about the victims' race and sexual orientation, according to a university news release. The men pushed and grabbed the victims before running away and leaving the area on bicycles.

One of the men is described as white, 18 or 19 years old, with a muscular build and brown medium-length hair, wearing a red polo shirt, blue jeans and a hat. The other was described as Latino, 18 or 19 years old, with a heavy build and brown hair, wearing a white T-shirt and khaki shorts.

Officials said the incident was reported to UC Davis police late Monday and is being investigated as a hate crime. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Police Department at (530) 752-1727, or the anonymous crime tip line, (530) 752-9944.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

September 16, 2010
Kings player's mural defaced with swastika again

By Kim Minugh
kiminugh@sacbee.com

A midtown mural depicting Sacramento Kings player Omri Casspi recently was defaced with a swastika - the second time in a week, according to authorities.

An unidentified caller reported the vandalism on the mural - painted along the east side of 16th street, south of Q Street - to city officials about 10:30 a.m., said Sacramento police Sgt. Norm Leong. City workers painted over the swastika shortly thereafter.

Leong said it's unclear when the vandalism occurred, though it likely was recent.

Thumbnail image for RP OMRI CASPI MURAQL.JPGA mural depicting the Kings' Omri Casspi, was defaced for a second time in a week on Thursday. City workers quickly touched up the mural. photo by Randy Pench

Last week, city officials were alerted to a swastika painted on the forehead of Casspi, who is from Israel. Leong said police have no leads on that crime, or the more recent one.

And although police take the matter seriously, Leong said, officers have little to go on without tips from the community.

"We continue to hope that someone will provide information," he said.

He went on to say that such a hate-crime is "not acceptable" in the city of Sacramento, adding "I don't think it's a reflection of our community, being as diverse as we are."

Sacramento's Crime Alert organization is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information regarding the crime. Recently, officials from the Anti-Defamation League supplemented that reward with an additional $1,000.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP (4357).

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038.

September 9, 2010
Martial arts champion sentenced for hate crime at Chico bar

By Denny Walsh
dwalsh@sacbee.com

A 28-year-old San Francisco man was sentenced Thursday in Sacramento federal court to three years and one month in prison for depriving an African American man of his civil rights by assaulting the man in a Chico bar, and for an unrelated mail fraud conviction.

On March 24, at the close of a three-day trial, a jury found Eric Clawson, a former mixed martial arts fighter, guilty of the 2008 hate crime.

Clawson later pleaded guilty to the fraud charge, admitting that he purchased two properties in Chico in 2007 with loan applications containing false employment histories and inflated income. In connection with that conviction, he was ordered to pay $92,804 in restitution to the lender.

Call The Bee's Denny Walsh, (916) 321-1189.

April 23, 2010
900 rally at Chico State over alleged hate crime

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

California State University, Chico officials report that approximately 900 students, faculty, staff and community members rallied today in support of Associated Students President Joseph Igbineweka, who was assaulted Sunday in what Chico police are calling a hate crime.

The unity rally in the Student Services Center plaza was organized by the CSU, Chico student organization Black Leaders on Campus. The purpose of the rally was to unite the campus community and show support for Igbineweka in a time of need, according to a university news release.

Igbineweka was stabbed just north of the campus, in a neighborhood where many students live, about 2:15 a.m. Sunday as he was walking home from a party. The assailants fled, but Chico police later arrested Barry Sayavong, a Butte College student, on suspicion of attempted murder and a hate crime.

According to the Chico Enterprise Record, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said he ordered Sayavong to be released from the county jail without charges based on "insufficient evidence" after meeting with two Chico police detectives Thursday morning.

Speakers at today's rally included CSU Chico President Paul Zingg, Chico Mayor Ann Schwab, Chico Police Chief Mike Maloney, Black Leaders on Campus representatives Malcom Dixon and Walter Torrence, and CSU, Chico staff member Mai Hou Lo.

Other speakers were Butte College student Tony Gamboa and Les Jauron, Butte College's vice president for planning and information.

The rally was in keeping with the Black Leaders on Campus' goal to be a bridge for communication among students and others in the community, and to allow any student to feel comfortable with other people, according to Christensen "Swang" Sanders, the organization's vice president.

"The idea of the rally is that the situation with Joseph does not escalate into more confusion or be misinterpreted by people," Sanders said in the news release. "This is an opportunity for people to unite and say that this type of behavior and violence should not be tolerated, whether it be a hate crime or a crime for any reason."

Many people at the rally wore yellow armbands as a sign of unity and support for Igbineweka, who was unable to attend because of continuing medical treatment for stab wounds he suffered in the assault, university officials said.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

Previous coverage:

Chico hate crime victim calls it an isolated incident; suspect's sister calls it mistaken identity - April 20, 2010

March 15, 2010
Another swastika is discovered at UC Davis

By Laurel Rosenhall
lrosenhall@sacbee.com

A swastika was found inside a UC Davis residence hall Sunday night, marking the sixth time the Nazi-era symbol was found on the campus in the last two weeks.

The latest incident featured a 3-inch by 5-inch swastika carved into a bulletin board inside the Kearney Hall dormitory, said campus spokeswoman Claudia Morain. The bulletin board has been removed by campus police and is being screened for fingerprints, Morain said.

"They're making it really clear this is a hateful symbol and urging anyone to come forward who knows anything," she said.

It's possible the swastika had been on the bulletin board for some time covered by fliers and was just reported to authorities for the first time Sunday, Morain said.

"This is very disturbing, and I hope the police find the perpetrators," said Chani Oppenheim, executive director of the campus Jewish organization known as Hillel House.

Before discovery of the latest swastika had been announced, the Hillel House and other campus religious organizations had been planning a vigil tonight in response to earlier acts of hate at UC Davis. The "Interfaith Vigil for Peace and Healing" begins at 7 p.m. at 433 Russell Blvd. An advertisement for the event says participants will "gather to share concerns and hope for the future."

UC Davis police ask anyone with information about the latest swastika incident to call (530) 752-1727. Callers who wish to remain anonymous may call the 24-hour Crime Tip Line at (530) 752-9944.

Call The Bee's Laurel Rosenhall, (916) 321-1083.

Previous coverage:

Dozens turn out to protest recent UC acts of bigotry - March 11, 2010

UC Davis police investigate vandalism as hate crimes - Feb. 28, 2010

February 2, 2010
Rewards offered in hate-crime incidents at synagogues


Snapshot-9.jpgBy Hudson Sangree
hsangree@sacbee.com

Law enforcement and religious leaders announced Monday that they are offering rewards for information leading to the arrests of suspects in two recent hate-crime incidents.

The first (video above and right photo) was Nov. 10 at Congregation Beth Shalom, 4746 El Camino Ave., Carmichael. A vandal spray-painted a hate message and swastikas, and tried to burn a sign at the synagogue, federal authorities said.

The second incident occurred Jan. 1 at Kenesset Israel Torah Center, 1165 Morse Ave., Sacramento. Satanic messages, racial epithets, and swastikas were spray-painted at the center. Beth Shalom and Kenesset Israel were targeted by arsonists in 1999.

Benjamin Matthew Williams, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, and his brother, James Tyler Williams, pleaded guilty in September 2001 to setting fires at three area synagogues, causing $3 million in damage.

Monday at Kenesset Israel, Drew Parenti, the special agent in charge of the FBI in Sacramento, announced the bureau is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the two latest incidents.

Skip Rosenbloom, president of the of the Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region, said the group has established a $1,500 reward to arrest and convict those who commit criminal acts against area religious institutions.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at (916) 481-9110.

Previous coverage:

Area churches grapple with crime - Jan. 25, 2010

Kenesset Israel synagogue in Sacramento struck by vandals - Jan. 2, 2010

Carmichael synagogue defaced by Nazi symbols - Nov. 11, 2009

January 12, 2010
Sacramento PD investigating anti-Mormon vandalism

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

Sacramento police are investigating an instance of anti-Mormon vandalism found in a Natomas neighborhood Sunday night, authorities said today.

A man walked out of his home Sunday evening to find his Mini Cooper car vandalized with black permanent marker, said police Officer Konrad Von Schoech. He said the message read, "Damn Mormons."

Von Schoech declined to say whether the victim was Mormon, but said police are treating the incident as a hate crime because the message was derogatory to a religious group. They have not identified any suspects.

January 1, 2010
Authorities call vandalism of Jewish temple on Morse Avenue a hate crime

From Diana Lambert:

Worshipers at the Kenesset Israel Torah Center on Morse Avenue were greeted this morning with swastikas, demonic symbols and racist messages scrawled on the temple and a nearby electrical box.

Four cars a mile away also were vandalized with the number 666 - often considered a demonic symbol - encircled by a Star of David.

Police officials said the two sets of incidents could be related.

"We're looking at it as hate crime," said R.L. Davis, a spokesman for the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department.

He said department officials have notified the FBI.

Kenesset Israel members this morning were joined in the temple's parking lot by members of the Interfaith Service Bureau and other local clergy.

"It's very sad to see it's still happening and people are still so uneducated to do something like this," said Simone Clay, president of Kenesset Israel Torah Center.

Nonetheless, Clay said she believes it is an isolated incident.

"Maybe it was people who got a bit drunk last night and thought they had a message to intimidate other people," she said.

Clay said people in the Sacramento area generally tolerate and support all faiths.

"It's very rare that we see people behave like this," she said.

Davis said community involvement will be a key to finding the people responsible for the vandalism.

"What it comes down to is us getting tips," he said.

To report information, people can call the sheriff's department at (916) 874-5115 or the Crime Alert tip line at (800) 222-7463 or (916) 443-4357. Tips also can be sent via text message, texting 274637 then entering SACTIP, followed by the tip information.

November 10, 2009
Cops investigate synagogue vandalism as possible hate crime

From Kim Minugh and Pete Basofin

Detectives from four agencies are investigating whether vandalism reported at a Carmichael synagogue this morning was a hate crime, according to authorities.

Officials at Congregation Beth Shalom on El Camino Avenue contacted the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department about 10:40 a.m. to report that racist symbols and messages, including a swastika, had been spray painted on the sanctuary, said sheriff's Sgt. Tim Curran.

The vandalism included the "SS" lightning bolts - the symbol of the Nazi security forces; a swastika and the message "Kristallnacht still lives," Curran said.

"Kristallnacht," meaning "Crystal night" or "the Night of Broken Glass," refers to an event 71 years ago today in which the German Nazis attacked Jewish people and businesses across Germany. Over the course of two days, more than 1,000 synangogues were damaged, at least 91 Jews were killed and some 30,000 Jewish men arrested. The men were sent to concentration camps that had been newly expanded for the influx of prisoners.

In the attack on Congregation Beth Shalom, bushes lining the exterior of the sanctuary also had been burned, although Curran said detectives believe the fire was set to burn down the synagogue's sign and not the entire building.

Curran said the vandal - described as a man wearing dark clothing - was caught on surveillance video about 1 a.m., but the images reveal no other distinguishing characteristics.

The incident is being investigated by the Sheriff's Department as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District's arson team and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Curran said. Detectives will determine whether the act was a hate crime, and which agency will take the lead in the investigation, Curran said.

No suspects have been identified, and no witnesses have been found, Curran said.

Congregation Beth Shalom was one of three Sacramento-area synagogues targeted by two arsonists in 1999. Benjamin Matthew Williams, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, and his brother, James Tyler Williams, pleaded guilty in September 2001 to setting the fires, which caused almost $3 million in damages. They were sentenced to 30 years and 21 years and three months, respectively, in federal prison for the crimes.

Benjamin Williams committed suicide in his jail cell in 2002 as he and his brother awaited trial in connection with another case - the murders of a gay couple in Happy Valley two weeks after the synagogue fires.

James Tyler Williams remains in prison after being convicted of the murders, as well as the fire-bombing of an abortion clinic in Sacramento, according to media reports.

April 17, 2009
Sacramento jury convicts man of violent hate crime

From Andy Furillo:

Another Sacramento jury convicted Daniel James Harper today of attempted murder, sexual assault, mayhem and other charges for his hate-inspired kidnap and attack on a Latina nearly five years ago.

Harper, 33, had been convicted in March 2006 for the Oct. 30, 2004, abduction of a woman from the parking lot of the San Juan Medical Center and his near fatal assault on her in a rural area in southern Sacramento County.

Besides convicting Harper on 12 counts, the jury today also found the allegations to be true that they were hate crimes. According to evidence at trial, Harper claimed he had once been beaten up by a group of "Mexicans." The prosecution claimed that he singled out his victim in the 2004 attack because of her race.

Superior Court Judge Gary S. Mullen is scheduled to sentence Harper on May 15.

The state's Third District Court of Appeals overturned harper's previous conviction in January 2008.

Previously authorities told The Bee that after kidnapping the victim, Harper forced her to withdraw money from an ATM. Harper then drove the woman around the county for four hours, investigators said.

After forcing the woman to perform a sexual act, Harper beat her unconscious, slit her throat and lit her on fire, authorities said. Left for dead, the woman regained consciousness and waved down help on New Hope Road in southern Sacramento County.

January 21, 2009
Police looking for men who attacked transgender woman

From Sandy Louey:

Sacramento police are looking for two men who allegedly attacked a 22-year-old transgender woman last week.

The incident, which is being investigated as a hate crime, occurred at 5 p.m. Friday in the tunnel connecting Downtown Plaza and Old Sacramento, said Officer Konrad Von Schoech, a spokesman for the police department.

Two men verbally harassed the victim, who was born a male but is transitioning to a female. They made derogatory remarks about her gender, Von Schoech said.

When she took her cell phone out, she dropped money on the floor, which they picked up. One of them threw a bottle at her leg, Von Schoech said.

The victim, who cut her foot on the broken glass, ran away and called police, he said.

Both men are described as African American men in their late teens or early 20's, 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing 190 pounds.

One was wearing a red bandana, baggy blue jeans and a black sweatshirt. The second wore a grey sweater and blue jeans, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call (916) 264-5471.

May 27, 2008
Police: Man's attack of two transgender men a hate crime

William Lee Johnson.jpgFrom Ryan Lillis:

In what police have labeled a hate crime, a 34-year-old man attacked two transgender homeless men Saturday afternoon, but was arrested after one of the victims stabbed him in the leg, according to Sacramento police.

William Lee Johnson, left, attacked the men at about 2:01 p.m. near the Longview Drive on-ramp to I-80 near Del Paso Park, according to police records. Johnson is a "validated skinhead," according to a police report.

Johnson called the victims a name and began beating one of them on the ground, police said. The victim pulled out a knife and stabbed Johnson in the leg, inflicting a non-life threatening injury, according to police.

Johnson was booked into Sacramento County Jail on suspicion of robbery, battery against a peace officer and interfering with one's civil rights - commonly referred to as a hate crime, according to jail records.



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