Friday, February 02, 2007

Sentencing in Halloween Beatings Case: Justice Denied

Article Launched: 02/02/2007 03:12:41 PM PST Long Beach Press-Telegram

" LONG BEACH - Four teens were sentenced to probation and house arrest for 60 days for their roles in the Halloween beatings of three young white women attacked by a mob of black youths in Bixby Knolls on Halloween."

The first sentencing outcomes by Judge Lee in the Long Beach Halloween Beating case were revealed today 02, 02, 07. The male youth , who "lied" in court said he was the good Samaritan rather than the 35 year Black man who really did rescue the young women from further injury maybe even death. This convicted youth said in court that he had tried to protect the young women who were attacked. Very few seemed to believe his story including the judge. This youth was given house arrest and then probation, a very lenient sentence given the severity and consequences of his vicious acts which rendered one of the young women unconscious. One of the victims says it was this youth who caused her to become unconscious from hitting her in the head and face with a skateboard. The judge said in effect that his hands were tied by procedures and juvenile court policies which limited the severity of the "verdict" he could render. The attorney Doug Otto and his defendant in the case were clearly stressed by the lenient sentencing especially as it related to the only male, now age 18, in the case.

If one of the youths who did the most serious of the crimes was given no juvenile hall or jail time, it seems clear the others will be given even less harsh sentences although it is hard to conceive of what is less severe than probation. It is hard to figure out what the judge in this case was thinking. It is hard to conceive that the Judge had just caved in to pressure from those in the community defending the youths and equally hard to think he was just trying to prevent more violence as that would be giving in blatant intimidation. It is possible the judge just thought it would be better for the justice system in this case the justice system for juveniles to take a non vindictive stance which is supposed to be the role of juvenile courts. According to local reports, few if any of the youths were in trouble with the law before this incident. The system must be geared to the idea of giving the youth found to be culpable of offenses of a serious nature a second chance with more severe consequences if something were to happen down the road from here. But this seems odd given the fact that any one of the three young female victims could have easily died from their beatings if there had not been an intervention by an outsider and several other witnesses.

I am left feeling very badly for the three young women victims. They are still suffering such great pain yet showing great courage in the face of such seeming indifference from the perpetrators and their families. I am not a supporter or defender of our often unequal and defective legal system especially as it metes out decisions affecting persons of color but in this case I am at a loss and shake my head no, no, no at Judge Lee's decision. It is a sad day for my city of Long Beach. My only hope is that the sentenced juveniles and all those who hung around that evening learn some compassion for the victims in this case, and learn that the victims were not them not that fateful evening in Bixby Knolls, Halloween Eve 06.

Sharon Raphael

Monday, January 29, 2007

Where are Jesse and Al?

Check out this website article on the Long Beach Halloween beatings incident from Huffingtron Post by John Ridley.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

After Halloween Beatings Trial Pic Outside Court in Long Beach


Mothers (WWI) by Kate Kollwitz

Halloween Beatings in Long Beach: One Opinion Since Judge's Ruling

The ruling by the Juvenile Justice Judge is in the Halloween Beating incident that took place in Long Beacc last year.

AP breaking News
• Printable Version
• Email This Article

(01-27) 02:59 PST Long Beach, Calif. (AP) --

"Angry black community leaders criticized the decision, prosecutors sought to focus on the young victims and a community braced itself for possible fallout after eight black girls and one boy were convicted of the Halloween night beating of three white women."

"One 12-year-old girl was acquitted of all charges in Friday's decision by juvenile court Judge Gibson Lee, who also found hate-crime enhancements to be true for eight defendants. Six were also convicted of an enhancement of causing great bodily injury."

As a long time supporter of civil rights, I do not understand why the nine African American youths convicted by the Judge in the case are being defended by some in the African American community as though they are the victims of civil right violations. These eight youths were part of a larger mob of thirty to forty people who enabled several different youths to beat the victims so severely they could have died. It was only the efforts of a passing good Samaritan who happened to be African American and perhaps, several other witnesses that kept these young victims from being killed.

I would like to know when was the last time that thirty or forty people in a mob beat three African American girls. Black Americans would demand justice and the maximun penalties applied to the perpetrators. If that had happened in recent years, there would be major riots and organized mass picketing going on throughout the country. Yes, there is racism against African Americans in this country. Racism against Black people is pervasive and wrong. But this case should be seen for what it is a mob scene that got out of hand inflamed by hatred against Whites.

That hatred against White people may be well deserved; however, attempting to harm innocent people just walking down a street is wrong no matter what color a person is. There are those in the African American community who claim this was not a hate crime and that the six accused of a hate crime are not guilty and should not have been charged as such. Several parents of the convicted youths in particular have been quoted as saying their kids don't hate anyone. Let's get real. epithets against Whites were shouted as witnesses testified and this added fuel to the fire so to speak.

Based on accounts I have heard of the behavior of some of the youths being charged during the trial, it appears several of those convicted did not get the seriousness of what they did. There was a lot of giggles and inappropriate behavior witnessed by the press during the proceedings. These kids should have understood the seriousness of the charges against them and prepared for a negative outcome. I am glad the twelve year old was let go. Unfortunately, her three siblings were kept confined to the juvenile court system. I have my doubts if the twelve year old will ever understand what reallly happened that night until she is well into her adulthood. The families like the youths in many instances did not get it either as they were so extremely shocked and undone when the Judge's findings of Yes to the charges were delivered in the courtroom. It is my understanding that in juvenile crimes a verdict of guity is never found only a finding of yes or no to the charges.

There are two other youths both aged fifteen who are being charged with more serious offfenses considered felonies. Their cases are yet to be heard. And it appears some of those involved in these crimes were and may never be caught. The African American community has brought up the issue of mishandled processes being used by the police in the identifications of those who have now been charged and adjudicated. From accounts I have read, the witnesses who were under great duress and threats from gangs and other thugs in the area not to testify certainly had no motive to lie and their testimony seemed strong and corroborated for the most part by others. It is the right of the defense to show contradictions in testimony which they did; the overwhelming evidence seemed to point to those charged in this case.

I understand that the one victim who testified even took a polygraph test which showed her to be truthful. This was not allowed in court and only came out after the trial. The three young women, age 19, 20, 21 who were victimized have had their lives changed forever. All three say they did nothing to provoke the incident and did not use racial epithets at any time. Their only "crime" was walking past the crowd.
I believe the young women. I believe them because one would have to be crazy to yell the N word or any other negative word at a group of thirty to forty young people just milling around on Halloween Eve.

One thing I do wonder about is what happened to this group that became a mob before
the incident. I understand they were trick or treating too like the young white women. What was going through their minds? Did something precipitate this turn of events or was it something longstanding coupled with an impulsive moment of depravity. Why were these teens so devoid of compassion for another human being? Why didn't some of them try to help? It is all beyond comprehension. Is this incident symbolic of a larger truth? Is the truth the old wisdom that tells us that those who have been victims or those whose parents have been the victims will eventually become the perpetrators?

Or is it a commentary on how many teens are being raised in our society without a sense of purpose or morality? Which leads us to the question: What can be done to turn these truths around and stop the madness? I am sure it does not help that we live in a violence prone society (violence on our streets, on television, in our movies, in children's games) which allows brutality of all kinds to become an
everyday reality in our lives, a reality that is not countered in any major way by adults or others who have responsibility for the raising of our young people.

by Sharon Raphael, Long Beach