Three alleged white supremacists appeared in a San Francisco courtroom this morning to answer to charges of attacking two Mexican nationals -- kicking one unconscious while yelling: "white power."
The accused attackers in this Tenderloin hate crime case -- including Robert Allen, 38, Anthony Weston, 32, and Justin Meskan, 29 -- plead not guilty to charges of assault and battery, with hate crime enhancements. They weren't literally "Skin Heads," as the Mexican consulate claimed in its press release -- they all had hair. One had quite a lot of it. Two had goatees.
Afterward, reporters gathered at a press conference this morning, where District Attorney George Gascón alleged that the three men were part of a larger white supremacist group that had approached one of the Mexican men standing outside a Tenderloin bar.
They pushed him to the ground and kicked him until he was unconscious, Gascón said.
The attackers then turned on another Mexican man who had tried to help the victim.
Gascón told reporters that the incident signaled an "uptick" in white supremacist crime in San Francisco. But one cop,
who monitors white gangs in the city, said he isn't so sure about that.
SFPD hate crime statistics for 2010
did not note the November incident; stats only show one crime -- in April -- where a Hispanic man was targeted because of his race.
Gascón wouldn't give us more details about this white supremacist group, but Inspector Dan Silver, who
monitors white gangs in the department's Gang Task Force, told SF Weekly he has his doubts that these men are members of the notorious Aryan Brotherhood.
"I would be surprised because
it's pretty up there in the prison system to be in the Aryan
Brotherhood," Silver said. "They could be hateful white-power dudes
who just felt like beating people up."
"Just because someone used a racial epithet during an assault, doesn't
mean that's the reason they assaulted them," Silver added.
As for Gascón calling the incident part of an "uptick" in
white supremacist violence, Silver provided a little context. He said that because this type of "white power" crime is so rare in San Francisco, a few incidents might give the appearance of an increase.
"To my knowledge there is no white gang
terrorizing San Francisco, beating up minorities on any regular basis, because I'm sure we'd be hearing quite a bit more about that," Silver said.
But we have heard of white nationalists being victimized: Last year, we wrote about Bay Area National Anarchists, a white
nationalist group, getting beaten after they protested the May Day immigration rally in front of City Hall.
In the November case, Gascón said, one of the two Mexican victims had returned to Mexico after
the assault. Later, the Mexican Consulate paid for his trip back to San
Francisco so he could assist the prosecution, said
Gabriela Mardero Jimenez, spokeswoman with the Mexican Consulate.
Deputy Mexican Consul Jonathan Chait said the
two victims were not yet seeking U visas for victims of crime, which would pave the way for them to become permanent residents of the United States.
Read more on how that would work in this week's cover story.
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