The rumors have circulated for years that some Latino gangs were using violence and threats to drive African-Americans out of select areas of Southern California. Now it appears that at least one story related to a specific Latino pogrom against Blacks may be true.
Fifty-one alleged members of the Azusa 13 Mexican Mafia-affiliated gang were indicted in Los Angeles by the United States Attorney's Office, Central District of California, on charges of racketeering and conspiracy related to a 20-year attempt to force Blacks to leave Azusa, a city, with a Latino majority and small Black population, northeast of Los Angeles.
Six of the gang members were indicted on charges of conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Blacks. Thirty-nine defendants were taken into custody initially, while at least 12 were still at large.
The indictment alleges systematic harassment of Blacks. These abuses include beatings, robberies and defacement of homes. The charges also state that gang members "would use attacks on African-Americans as a way of proving themselves as members of the gang and enhancing their position in the gang.”
Authorities say that the African-Americans who were terrorized had no gang connections and were selected because they were Black. The city of Azusa is 64 percent Hispanic and four percent Black.
In a written statement, U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. said, "The Azusa 13 gang waged a campaign of hate during a two-decade crime spree in which African-Americans were harassed and attacked. We hope that this federal case will signal the end of this racist behavior and will help vindicate all of the victims who have suffered over the years."
Birotte, a former Los Angeles Police Commission inspector general, became the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, which includes metropolitan L.A., in 2010. His jurisdiction has more than 18 million residents, and 275 attorneys report to him.
(Photos: REUTERS/Luis Rivera /Landov)