- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2006

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Alejandro “Bird” Martinez and fellow gang members were joyriding in a stolen van when they came upon a black man parking his car — and decided to kill him. Three of them riddled Kenneth Kurry Wilson and his Cadillac with pistol bullets and blasts from a 12-gauge shotgun.

This month, Martinez and three other members of the Avenues, a Hispanic gang, were convicted of federal hate crimes. The verdict this month was one in a series of reminders that racially motivated gang violence is still a Los Angeles reality.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca cited tensions between black and Hispanic gangs as he redeployed deputies to the Compton area, where four persons were killed in 20 gang shootings during one July weekend. And the federal prosecutor who oversaw the Avenues case announced plans to prosecute other gangs involved in race-based violence.

South Los Angeles was 80 percent black and 20 percent Hispanic in 1980. By 2000, it was 60 percent Hispanic and 40 percent black.

“They would try to jump me for not being black,” said Mario Bonilla, 22, who spent much of his childhood looking over his shoulder. “They resent us.”


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