Sunday, January 18, 2009
By JOHN ASBURY
Special Section: Inauguration '09
Local police believe five recent attacks on minorities in the San Jacinto Valley may stem from a backlash to the election of Barack Obama as the first black president in U.S. history.
Hemet police and Riverside County gang detectives said the beatings, which occurred in the weeks following Obama's election, appeared to be racially motivated and they fear more racial violence during his presidency.
The attacks and rhetoric from the white supremacist group involved in the beatings is part of a larger insurgence of hate groups throughout the nation, especially in the Inland region and Southern California, experts said.
Confidential police informants and the Web site of a local white supremacist group have pointed to anger about the election of the country's first black president, said Sgt. Mark Richards of the Hemet/San Jacinto Regional Gang Task Force.
"All of these attacks occurred after the election and we believe there's some connection to the election of an African-American," Richards said. "All of a sudden these attacks occurred and we don't think it's a coincidence."
Brian Levin, a Cal State San Bernardino criminology professor, said the greatest concern is fringe activists who may turn violent. He said fundamentalists may take the inauguration and presidency as a sign of everything they fear and an opportunity to attack blacks, Hispanics and Jews.
"To elect a biracial president is the worst thing for these white supremacists. He's their antichrist," Levin said. "These people can't get to him, so the fear is they'll get to someone close to him symbolically."
Nationally, federal authorities have been tracking crime that might be associated with anger over the election. In New York, three teens were charged with beating four black men with lead pipes out of anger on Election Day.
However, while experts agree about the increase in hate group activity, some say the activity may not be a direct result of Obama's election.
Experts say anger over the economic downturn and illegal immigration could be larger issues.魚拓