Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Drip, drip, drip

You can now add Davis to the growing list of California locales dealing with a growing tide of hate crimes and white-supremacist activity, mostly among young people.

According to a Sacramento Bee report [registration req'd], a longstanding problem was only dealt with cosmetically, and now it's coming home to roost:
Swastikas, racist graffiti and satanic messages were spray-painted on two schools and a church near Davis early Monday morning, stunning members of the liberal college town and sparking a multiagency hate-crimes investigation.

Another church near Davis' western border also was severely vandalized. No graffiti was sprayed on that church.

"I'm just so sickened by what's happened," said Mayor Ruth Asmundson. "I think it's important that everybody in Davis know of this, so we can clean up the mess and make sure this doesn't happen again."

The vandalism occurred less than two years after the city and its school district held a series of emotional public meetings concerning hate crimes committed by a few of the city's youths. At the meetings, dozens of students and local residents described acts of bigotry and racism in the community that they believed were being ignored by local officials.
The school district later adopted new protocols to address bullying and racism on campus and the Police Department assigned a full-time officer to investigate hate crimes.

But several community members said Monday that they believe problems of racism in the city still are not being adequately addressed.

They criticized the school district for not informing parents in a timely manner that racist graffiti had been spray-painted at the high school two months ago and that racist literature had been distributed there last week.

"By covering that up and not publicizing it, it encouraged the people to do it again and this time they did it all over the city," said the Rev. Tim Malone, a member of the Davis-based Blacks for Effective Community Action and a parent of two children in city schools.

"Davis is like that," Malone said. "The people think if you ignore it long enough, it will go away."

As I've explained numerous times, ignoring these crimes or only issuing wrist slaps is a dangerous thing to do. The mentality of haters is such that they take such signals as tacit approval, a kind of confirmation. The result, always, is escalation. Shining light on these dark corners is the only way of making their occupants scatter.

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