Monthly Archives: July 2008
The annual report by the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission showed hate crimes rose by 28%, to 763, with vandalism and assault leading the way.
The largest number of racial hate crimes involved Latino suspects against black victims, followed by black suspects against Latino victims. Latinos also made up the largest number of suspects in hate crimes based on sexual orientation. Whites were the leading suspects in religion-based incidents. Overall, blacks made up nearly half the hate crime victims, totaling 310.
“What we’re seeing is the democratization of hate crimes,” said Brian Levin, who directs the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino. “We’re not only seeing a diversification of victims but also increased diversification of offenders.”
Police agencies report hate crimes to the county, but because departments vary on when they pursue hate-crime charges, variations in hate-crime numbers can stem from an actual increase in crimes or from changes in reporting. In this case, experts said they believed that hate crimes themselves, not just the reporting of them, are rising.
Levin said other areas of the country have reported similar increases, including a 30% increase in New York last year; a 10-year study published last fall found that hate crimes in New York began to increase two years ago after declining over several years.
Levin said several factors may be driving the rise, including deepening economic distress, growing ethnic diversity and population density in neighborhoods and what he called “increasingly inflammatory rhetoric” over illegal immigration.
Amanda F. Susskind, Pacific Southwest regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in Los Angeles, said hate rhetoric is rising online and is particularly targeting youth, perpetuated in part by as many as 110 white supremacist organizations nationwide.
The rhetoric appears to be influencing other groups, Toma said. He cited law enforcement reports that some Latino gang members who targeted blacks in the Harbor Gateway area of Los Angeles were found with neo-Nazi material and some Latino gangs were forming alliances with white supremacists in prisons to prey on blacks.
Despite the intense national debate over illegal immigration, hate crimes against immigrants decreased slightly from 42 to 39. However, the report noted that some crimes may “be inspired by anti-immigrant animus but it may not be explicitly verbalized.”
The report noted, for instance, that as of last August, Pasadena police had investigated 69 crimes involving attacks against Latinos, many of them low-wage immigrant workers who were robbed and beaten, allegedly by African Americans. But none of the cases were submitted to the county commission for inclusion in the hate crime report this year.
The report quoted a statement by acting Pasadena Police Chief Christopher Vicino that investigators had theorized the crimes were racially motivated, but it was “impossible to meet the legal criteria required” for hate crimes in many cases, such as concrete evidence that prejudice was a substantial factor in the attack.
Incidents against Muslims and people from the Middle East, which increased after the 2001 terrorist attacks and drove reported hate crimes to their highest level ever in Los Angeles County, also fell last year to seven from 25 the previous year. Salam Al-Marayati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council welcomed the decline but said a recent Gallup Poll showed anti-Muslim hostility had increased by 16% in the last two years, which he blamed in part on “anti-Muslim campaign rhetoric” by some presidential candidates and their supporters.
The county report found that the largest number of religion-based hate crimes was directed against Jews. In its own survey released in March, the ADL found anti-Semitic incidents declined last year to 186 from 204. The incidents included the defacing of L.A. City Councilman Jack Weiss’ office in Sherman Oaks with swastikas.
One of the most worrisome findings, commissioners said, was the rising number of hate crimes between Latinos and blacks — many of them driven by gang hostility.
The report found that a third of suspected Latino-on-black crimes and 42% of suspected black-on-Latino crimes involved gangs. The crimes were increasingly violent last year, including two attempted murders.
Asked what can prevent hate crimes, the Rev. Eric P. Lee of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles offered another answer.
“Pray,” he said. “How else do you change someone’s heart? Hatred is a spiritual wickedness.”
Articles written by a Staff Reporter are unsigned reports from a member of the staff.
Staff Reporter | Posted July 29, 2008 7:10 PM – The Daily Voice
Articles written by a Staff Reporter are unsigned reports from a member of the staff.
“On the presidential campaign, Senator John McCain said last October that he would support a federal apology for slavery, although some critics note that he failed to support the bill when it was discussed in February of this year.”
Nothing that man says will ever convince me that he gives a damn about black Americans.
- Mom Demands Justice, 1 Year After Death of Child
- Mya Lyons’ Mother Opens Up About Daughter’s Death
- Mya’s Dad: ‘I Simply Want To Be Left Alone’
- Police Search Home of 9-Year-Old Murder Victim
- Slain Girl’s Dad Takes Lie Detector Test
Next month will mark the one-year anniversary of the murder of Mya Lyons. The 9-year-old’s body was found in an alley near her father’s home. She had been stabbed to death. Mya’s mother talked to CBS 2’s Mai Martinez about what this past year has been like for her family.
Ericka Barnes said when her daughter was killed, she thought someone would be arrested within days for the murder, but almost a year later, Barnes is still waiting for that arrest and praying for justice.
“Just knowing that this person is still out here has been very hard, besides the fact that my daughter is gone,” Barnes said.
It’s been 11 months since Mya Lyons was found stabbed to death in an alley near her father’s home in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood. Richard Lyons told police he found his daughter’s body shortly after he realized she had slipped out of his house around 11 p.m. on July 14th.
Mya was visiting him for the summer. Her mother, who lives in Addison, still can’t believe her daughter won’t come home.
“I miss my baby, and people that don’t understand that. I miss her so much,” Barnes said. “They took something.”
Ericka Barnes and her family say the lack of progress in the case adds to their pain, and with every other murder that is solved, they’re left wondering why Mya’s killer is still out there.
“When is it going to be my turn? My daughter to be at peace, when is our justice going to come?” Barnes said.
Barnes and her family say while they pray for the day Mya’s killer is caught, the thought also frightens them.
“I’m scared of who it might be,” Barnes said. “I feel like the person who killed my child, she knew them. Either she knew something, they didn’t want her to say anything. Something happened where they got scared and tried to cover it up by keeping my child silent permanently.”
But Barnes says not even death can silence Mya’s spirit.
“I just feel like she’s with me,” Barnes said. “I feel like I can hear just as well as if she was here, ‘Mama, it’s okay. It’s going to be okay.'”
CBS 2 wanted Mya’s father Richard Lyons to be a part of this story, but his attorney declined our request for an interview.
As for the investigation, Chicago Police will only say this is an ongoing investigation, and no one has been charged with the crime.
In the meantime, Mya Lyons’ mother and her family are planning a July 25th ceremony where they will release 365 balloons in remembrance of Mya.
MYA LYONS INVESTIGATION: FATHER TAKES POLYGRAPH
Richard Lyons Sr., father of Mya Lyons, was escorted by Chicago police officers to a police station, according to neighbors in the 8400 block of South Gilbert Court who declined to be identified.
Lyons found Mya stabbed in the neck and stomach in a dead-end alley July 14, about a half block from the family’s South Gilbert Court home. She succumbed to her injuries a few hours later. The girl had been staying with him for the summer.
Earlier this week, a knife with blood on it was found near where Lyons discovered Mya. Lab results are pending from the police department.
A “person of interest” had been questioned last week but was released.
A $6,500 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest of the girl’s murderer.
To see Lyons family photos, click here.
That’s no longer the case.
The family of 9-year-old Mya Lyons will lay her to rest instead.
Mya, fatally stabbed in the throat and abdomen, was found lying in a poorly-lit dead end alley with overgrown trees about a half block from her father’s home in the 8400 block of South Gilbert Court. Her father Richard Lyons discovered her body late Monday.
“I lost the most precious thing that anybody could ever have. I believe that it takes a village to raise a child. I also believe it takes a village to find a criminal, so please help me find my baby’s criminal,” Lyons said Wednesday after an afternoon prayer march, the second since Mya’s nearly 60-pound body was found.
As family, friends and the community prayed and marched, city crews chopped down the overgrown trees and tall weeds on the block and in the alley.
After her and her 14-year-old brother went home later that evening, a neighbor remembers seeing Mya sitting by herself on the family’s porch at around 10 p.m. About an hour later, the family said the girl went to bed.
Minutes later, someone heard the back door close. When the father went to check in on Mya and her brothers, the girl was gone.
A search ensued in the area, and Lyons’ nightmare began.
He and a relative rushed her to Jackson Park Hospital, but she died a couple of hours later. And, based on a preliminary autopsy, sexual assault is unlikely, Chicago Police Department’s Chief of Detectives Thomas Byrne said.
“I have been trying to figure out how to tell her little brother she’s not coming back,” Mya’s mother, Ericka Barnes, said as she held the girl’s photo close to her heart, pausing several times while trying to maintain composure as she pleaded for the murderer to come forward. “Please, please come forward.”
Barnes, dressed in pink, her daughter’s favorite color, was comforted by Sabrina Harris, the mother of slain Ryan Harris. Eleven-year-old Harris was raped and murdered in July 1998 in Englewood.
“You are so special to me. Now that you are gone, I don’t know what to do. I hope the one who has taken your life and took you from your family needs to be in jail for life. I know I should be strong, but I miss you so much,” 9-year-old Deja Hudson read from a note handwritten on pink paper.
Mya lived with her mother in west suburban Addison but spent summers and every other weekend with Lyons in what both parents said is a quiet neighborhood where everyone on that block knows each other.
They also said Mya did not leave voluntarily. She would never leave without telling someone.
Scores of Chicago Police Department recruits swarmed the area hours after her death, aiding detectives’ search for anything that could bring them closer to finding Mya’s killer. No suspects are in custody.
“We are going to look at every single angle. We are not restricting our investigation at all,” Byrne said.
DNA samples were taken from the family as part of the investigation. Also part of the investigation is checking into whether a known sex offender, whose last known address is on that block, is linked to the murder. That house has been vacant for a while, neighbors said.
During a vigil Tuesday, Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), clergy and community leaders offered a $5,500 reward for information leading to an arrest, which the family hopes is imminent.
Lyons waited in front of his home Wednesday evening while a candlelight vigil got underway. It was too hard for him to go back to the scene. Other relatives and friends lit candles and prayed in front of a makeshift memorial in the alley.
Afterwards, Kublai Toure, executive director of Amer-I-Can Ill., a life management skills organization, said the community needs to start talking.
“It’s time to stop professional lip service and time for real action. Real men need to step up. This is our responsibility. Somebody on this block knows who did this. We have to stop this foolishness,” Toure said, making his own plea for justice.
Services for Mya, who was to start 4th grade at a suburban Glendale Heights school, will begin at 11 a.m., Saturday at Monument of Faith Church, 2750 W. Columbus Ave.
With heavy hearts, the parents and friends of Mya Lyons, most of whom wore pink, streamed into a Southwest Side church to get their last looks at the girl and say their goodbyes.
Lyons was sexually assaulted, according to her family, and fatally stabbed in the neck and abdomen July 14. Her father, Richard, found her lying in an alley about a half block from his home in the 8400 block of South Gilbert Court. The alley was poorly lit and was overgrown with trees and brush. Mya had been visiting her father for the summer.
Mya’s mother, Ericka Barnes, could barely make it down the aisle by herself to see her daughter who had a tiara on her head and was dressed in pink. She had pink flowers and a Barbie doll laying by her side inside of a white casket trimmed in pink.
Barnes could be heard outside of the sanctuary as she walked into Monument of Faith church where the funeral was held, stomping her feet and screaming, “No! No! My baby! No!” as “Jesus Loves the Little Children” played in the background.
With her watered eyes closed and head low, Barnes had to be held up as she made her way to the casket. As she looked at her daughter, she stroked Mya’s dress and flowers before being helped to her seat.
Mya’s father, along with her two brothers and sister, also broke down when they reached the viewing area that was surrounded by stuffed animals, including a Tweety Bird, and handwritten signs professing their love for the girl and sorrow for her death.
During the service, without a dry eye in the church, a young girl around Mya’s age, Jocelyn Lomax, sang “Encourage Yourself” because sometimes you have to be encouraged, Lomax told mourners.
Pastor Mark Henton told the family to not let the tragedy that stole their daughter’s life take theirs.
“We come together in spite of something that seems to have snatched out hope. We need not allow the horrors of life to dictate to us our destiny because if the horrors of life dictate to us our destiny, then we are a people without hope,” Henton said.
Tamika Thomas, whose 9-year-old son Trevon went to school with Mya, said her son was too distraught to attend the services.
“He’s been having nightmares,” Thomas said after offering her condolences to the family.
A family friend and former resident of the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood, where Mya lived part-time with her father, set up the makeshift memorial in the alley where the girl was found.
“Someone needs to step up and help find Mya’s killer. This is too sad, and no parent should have to go through this,” Sheila Bibbs said.
As Lyons left Mya’s visitation on Friday, he urged all parents to take “Mya minutes” to look at their children and realize how special those moments are.
No one is in custody and rewards totaling $6,500 have been offered for information leading to the arrest of Mya’s murderer.