Three suspects have been arrested for an alleged race-based attack on a black family in Compton, Calif. Two men and a teenage boy of Latin heritage allegedly beat a black man visiting a family that had recently moved into the neighborhood. The trio used metal pipes and uttered racial slurs, reports say. One of the suspects, 21-year-old Efren Marquez, aimed a gun at the victim while he was being beaten, threatening to shoot, according to NBC Los Angeles.
The suspects claimed to be members of the Varrio 155 street gang, and apparently returned to the home 30 minutes later, with a mob in tow. NBC reports that up to 20 gang members surrounded the family’s home, saying that African-Americans were not allowed to live in the area and using the n-word. One of the gang members hurled a bottle through the family’s living room window.
The family, a mother with four children, moved into the home during the holiday season. The visitor, a 19-year-old family friend, escaped into the house where the children were alone. They quickly called their mother, who called police.
“This family has no gang ties whatsoever,” sheriff’s Lt. Richard Westin said. “They are complete innocent victims here.” Police are looking for other suspects. The three already in custody will face hate crime charges.
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As Compton’s racial demographics shifts, violence against black families has increased as Latino street gangs attempt to gain control of the area. The 2010 U.S. census identifies Compton as being almost 66 percent Latino and 33 percent African-American.
Sheriff department officials told the Los Angeles Times that similar attacks have taken place in other Los Angeles-area neighborhoods, including Harbor Gateway, Highland Park, Pacoima and San Bernardino. Though there have been federal investigations into organized gang attacks on African-Americans, Los Angeles police believe this case to be a single incident.