Detective Ellen Vest discusses hate crime policing in San Diego for the OVEE screening of Light In The Darkness Our Director of Community Engagement, Michelle Gahee Kloss, was recently in San Diego producing a piece on the San Diego’s Sheriff Department’s Hate Crime Task Force as well as coordinating an online film screening of Light in the Darkness for San Diego’s KPBS that utilized the new ITVS OVEE platform. OVEE is a new social screening platform that allows for people to participate in discussions online and the screening was a big success for Not In Our Town and KPBS. Michelle is now preparing for our first Law Enforcement webinar as part of our new collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice COPS Office.
This is the second in a five-part series published by our public media partneras at Fronteras. Listen to the accompanying radio piece. By Adrian Florido SAN DIEGO — Detective Ellen Vest investigates hate crimes for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, and she recently recalled a case in which a white skinhead attacked an African-American man outside a bar, causing brain damage. Vest thought the assault was a hate crime. “He had one swastika on his shoulder that he displayed to our African-American victim. So we served a search warrant on his house,” she said of the suspect, who was ultimately convicted. “He had a money clip that had a little KKK man on it, with a burning cross. He didn’t have a lot, but what he did have was really pretty specific to show he was a biased individual.” To convict a suspect of a hate crime, proving that bias is critical. And for detectives like Vest, one of the best ways to do that is by looking for those hate symbols.
A Latina resident of Phoenix stepped up to the microphone, her voice cracking, nearly tearful. “Why do they hate us?” she began. “That’s what my seven and eight-year-old niece and nephew—who have been in this country all their lives—ask me when they hear what people say about immigrants here in Arizona.” The woman spoke to Patchogue, NY Mayor Paul Pontieri in a packed theater in February, following a screening of Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness. Pontieri was sharing his experience during the aftermath of the hate crime killing of Marcelo Lucero and attacks on local immigrants in 2008. He spoke with compassion and conviction about the need to dampen dehumanizing rhetoric against immigrants, most especially because of its effects on children and young people. Pontieri was formerly a middle school assistant principal.
San Francisco, CA: With California in economic crisis, and the state's schools facing a crippling budget crunch, the University of California is in the midst of one of its deepest, most disturbing conflicts over race, tolerance and diversity in recent memory. The UC system from Davis to San Diego has been rocked by racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay incidents, creating an atmosphere of fear and distrust. The impact has reverberated nationwide, prompting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to condemn the "intolerable acts of racism" on UC campuses--harsh words indeed from the state's highest office. The UC Board of Regents is meeting tomorrow at UC San Francisco to address the situation.
San Diego, CA-
San Diego, CA: “Red, black, yellow, brown and white, we need one another right now,” said Reverend Ikenna Kokayi, president of the United African American Ministerial Action Council, kicking off an evening of speakers before the 200 people crowded into the Ronald Reagan Center in El Cajon. After a series of hate-motivated incidents in San Diego’s East County, a coalition of faith and community leaders came together last week for its annual Hate Crimes Summit. “We have gathered this day to look at the devastating effect of hate that is prevalent in our society. You and I must remain forever vigilant and wherever [hate] raises its ugly head we must be here to say, ‘No, not here.’” In recent months, San Diego has seen an increase in hate crimes and hate-motivated behaviors, mostly committed by young people. Incidents have ranged from racist graffiti painted on the vehicle of an African American family to the violent attack of a young Lesbian woman.