Brutal Attack Spurs Worries of Racial Backlash

Adam Townsend, San Clemente Patch, January 13, 2012

Amid rumblings of possible racial overtones to a Jan. 6 street brawl that left two men injured and one in a coma, a county group is urging calm and unity.

“This is not a brown-white issue,” said Rusty Kennedy, executive director of OC Human Relations, which works to prevent racial violence and foster ethnic understanding and tolerance. “It’s an issue of violent gangsters.”

Three Hispanic men—including two allegedly affiliated with the Varrio Chico criminal gang in San Clemente—have been charged with attempted murder and assault for allegedly beating three white men, one of whom was fighting for his life late Tuesday after being bashed in the head with a brick.

The motives behind the attack remain unclear, but racially charged rumblings in some parts of the white community have already begun in comments posted on Patch and other media outlets. Some in the city’s Hispanic community—many of whom are proud of their civic involvement and efforts to stop gang crime over the last few years—fear a possible backlash.


Rose Velasquez—no relation to the Gilberto Velazquez accused in the crime—is a community organizer for OC Human Relations. {snip}

“I spoke with a group of youth that I work with [about the crime],” she said. “They said other kids were going to tease them and hold them responsible. These are seventh-graders. I told them, ‘You just do your best, you work hard and make the right choices.’

“Our whole plan is to have these kids get along with the Caucasian kids, and for them not to be racist either—like, ‘Oh, those white kids . . . ’ We want to integrate the Hispanic community.”


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