By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Three sources bolster my own observations regarding a rise in white supremacist activities and various bias incidents: the Anti-Defamation League of Arizona; the Phoenix Police Department's hate crime stats; and Montgomery, Alabama's Southern Poverty Law Center's report on "The Year in Hate," published in the most recent issue of their magazine, Intelligence Report.
(Also, as The Bird went to press, Reuters was reporting on a new study by Janet Napolitano's Department of Homeland Security on the rise of right-wing hate groups.)
AZ ADL regional director Bill Straus says his organization has been noting the increase for several months. The incidents the ADL's documented for 2008 run the gamut and include synagogues being spray-painted with anti-Jewish epithets and swastikas, the racist tagging of a black woman's home in Mesa, attacks on gays, the vandalism of a Bosnian mosque, and assaults by white supremacists on Native Americans and Hispanics.
There was one incident in which neo-Nazis in north Phoenix tried to cut off a Hispanic man's tattoo depicting American and Chilean flags.
The reasons for this uptick in activity? Straus points to the downturn in the economy and to an influx of neo-Nazis into the Valley who've been successful at sponsoring events and forming, in some cases, roving white gangs. He doesn't think there's a direct connection between the incidents he knows about and the election of Barack Obama, the country's first black president — though on the Internet, there is obvious rage toward Obama from extremists, including far rightists and white nationalists.
"We get the feeling that they're ramping up for something," Straus tells me. Straus was also familiar with the damage inflicted on Orlando Diaz's home. I asked about him about the difference between a hate crime, like at Diaz's residence, versus ordinary vandalism and criminal activity.
"There is no other crime that sends this message," Straus says. "And it doesn't just send the message to Orlando Diaz. It sends the message to every Hispanic person who hears about it."
That message is pretty simple: "You don't belong. Get out or else." It's a form of terrorism, Straus suggests, leveled at anyone who fits the bill. He points out that the ADL has a broad definition of a hate crime, whereas the Phoenix PD works with a stricter definition. On its hate crime stat sheets, the PPD states that "bias" exists if the facts of the case lead a reasonable person to believe that the offender was motivated "in whole or part by bias."
As for a hate crime, it must be established, not just presumed, that the criminal act was motivated by bias. And according to Sergeant Jerry Hill of the Phoenix PD's Bias Crime Detail, hate crimes are on the increase. For 2008, the Phoenix PD reported a record 89 hate crimes to the FBI. That's a 9.9 percent increase over 81 for 2007. And it's an even greater jump from 2006, when there were 60, and 2005, when there were 32.
Hill cited several reasons for the leap in numbers, including population increase, citizens more willing to report such crimes, better data collection, and the ever-present (in Arizona, anyway) "border issues."
The spring edition of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report spots a national trend of a rise in hate groups nationwide, a record 926 last year, up 50 percent from 2000, with 19 in Arizona alone. IR editor Mark Potok, in a commentary published in the latest issue, cites a "white-hot nativist backlash" to the wave of Latino immigration that kicked off in the 1990s. Potok regards the backlash as "largely responsible" for the rise of hate groups and the vicious crimes they spawn.
I am convinced that Potok's logic applies to Arizona, as well. As with the summer's baking heat, many Arizonans are inured to the antics of white-power cretins, racist skinheads, and violent white nationalists. With right-wing demagogues, such as state Senator Russell Pearce, verbally flogging Mexicans continually and with racial profiling becoming de rigueur under the regime of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the voices and activities of more radical, racist forces are somehow subsumed in a sea of intolerance.
ZACK'S COMIN' BACK
The folks who put thousands in Phoenix's streets February 28 to protest Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the 287(g) program are ready to do it again May 2, with Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha slated to participate, as he did before.
The difference this time is that the anti-Arpaio march will start at the Wells Fargo Building downtown, where the sheriff keeps two pricey floors of executive offices. It will end with stops at Joe's Estrella and Durango jails.
"It's to highlight the 287(g) agreement," says Phoenix civil rights leader Salvador Reza of the decision to march to Joe's gulags. "And how 287(g) is being used in the jails. It's also to highlight all the abuses that are going on in there, like with the broken-arm lady, the broken-jaw lady, and anyone else who has been abused in there."
Reza's referring to the fact that the 287(g) program has deputized 160 of Arpaio's men to enforce federal immigration law. Arpaio uses these men not only in his anti-immigrant hunting sweeps and in his worksite raids, but in the jails, where they often coerce and sometimes physically injure undocumented immigrants held pending their transfer to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.
Sheriff joe, Keep up the good work,if more people treated illegal immigration the way you do there would be less of a problem with it. As far as I am concerened those that protest against sheriff joe are illegals,otherwise why would they protest. Get rid of all illegals and the families that support them.
This disgusts me,i wouldve love to catch these fagg*ts on the street somewhere if that had happened to me.
the ones doing this are sick, bullys low IQ and probably had sex with their sisters, or mothers. These are hate crimes, so go after them joey and prosecute them andy, HOH thats right your too busy building revenue off prostituion, where the prostitutes were all willing and getting paid, a crime that is LEGAL is some states. Doing this for media attn, not really helping the big crimes. You got yourminds on publishing johns names who had sex with them, like who cares???? Which reminds of the sun city masse parlor where the judge threw it all out waste of money and tax payers money!! Are we suppose to feel safer with paid sex clogging up the court rooms???? to do something like this in this day and age when the us and AZ has so many problems . Mostly brought on by ar pisso's and andy's thomass's . I want to number to colbert show producer. or equal time on the show. I will also recommend they bring Stephen Lemons to the show , so the people in the whol usa can hear what he is all about. A money waster.steal a loaf of bread and get 5 years steal billions from the tax payers and get a tv series. SAD state of affairs.
the neo nazis are the only ones arpaio can get to be his follower. sick son of a bitch.for someone in this position to make racial remarks is a good reason to RECALL that bastard, if he dont resign, he is not going to like the march and attention it gets. he is spending all his time thinking of ways to media turn things in his favor not crime busting. what ever happened to the kkk aryan member who killed COTTON in ar pissos jail???
I hope they find these cowardly skinhead nazi punks and send them back to Germany or wherever they came from! This country has had enough of this racist crap! Our diversity is our strength!
This is so sad. I can't believe that this type of element is breeding in our own back yards. This is all the result of Russell Pearce and his Nazi friends like JD and Arpaio.
Their supporters are exactly those groups. Just click on any of those web sites for those hate groups and they all seem to praise these three idiots.
I wonder where all this is leading, perhaps a civil riot. I'm sure.