Henry K. Lee, San Francisco Chronicle, January 28, 2010
Union City police and school officials have failed to protect African American students from a Latino gang, whose members killed a black youth in 2007 at a middle school and then shot at his friends last weekend in Hayward, according to attorneys who filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland, accuses Union City police and officials with the New Haven Unified School District of doing nothing to prevent African American students from suffering “severe and pervasive racial harassment.” Gang members were responsible for many of the incidents on campus or near schools, according to the suit filed by 10 African American former students of the school district.
The most serious incident cited in the lawsuit happened in December 2007, when Vernon Eddins, 14, was shot and killed in front of Barnard-White Middle School on Whipple Road in Union City. No arrests have been made.
On Saturday, eight African American youths, one of whom was wearing a shirt with Eddins’ picture on it, were shot at while at the Southland Mall in Hayward, said the plaintiffs’ attorney, Pamela Price. No one was injured.
No arrests have been made, said Hayward police Sgt. Steve Brown.
Hayward police responded quickly to the incident, while their counterparts in Union City have not moved fast enough to stem violence against black youths by Latino gang members, Price said.
Price said her clients are not gang members but are treated as such by Union City police. Officers often ask them, “What did you do to start this?” when “they did nothing,” Price said. “To me, that’s racial.”
African American students and their families have been told by police that if they don’t like the situation, they should move, said attorney John Burris, who is also representing the plaintiffs.