Assault probed as hate crime

Attack on Latino trio to be treated as racially related 4, 2005
By Stephen Wall

Redlands -- Police will seek hate-crime charges against skinheads who attacked three Latinos outside a topless bar last week, Police Chief Jim Bueermann said Tuesday.

"We're not going to tolerate this kind of behavior in any way, shape or form,' Bueermann said. "If you assault somebody because of their ethnicity or who they are, we will find you and hold you accountable and bring you to justice.'

Earlier Tuesday, the local branch of the Mexican-American Political Association urged the Police Department to treat the assault Dec. 29 at Larry Flynt's Hustler Club as a hate crime that violated civil and human rights.

"We want reassurances that a hate crime will be sought against these hate mongers and these criminals,' said Gil Navarro, associate president of MAPA's Inland Empire chapter. "This should not be treated as a normal assault because of the racial slurs that were directed at these individuals.'

Bueermann said he called Navarro and left a message that the Police Department was addressing his concerns.

"I find all crime to be offensive,' Bueermann said. "Those crimes that are committed against people because of who they are as human beings are especially offensive. We pull out all the stops if we believe the crime is motivated by hate.'

A gang of about 10 skinheads white men in their 20s with shaved heads beat and kicked two Latino men and one woman in the parking lot of the topless club at 1331 W. Colton Ave., police said.

The assailants reportedly claimed membership in skinhead gangs in Redlands and Riverside and yelled racial slurs before and during the assault.

The three victims were cut and bruised and taken to nearby hospitals. One of the men's arms was broken, police said.

Police are pursuing leads in the case but no arrests have been made, Detective Rick Smith said.

Bueermann said detectives have been working day and night since the incident reviewing video and trying to identify the people involved.

"I have no doubt that our detectives will find out who is responsible and arrests will be made,' Bueermann said. "We will be referring hate-crime charges against some or all of the individuals to the District Attorney's Office.'

A hate-crime enhancement results in more prison time if the accused is found guilty of another crime such as assault.

The topless club is considering increasing security to prevent disturbances, which police said have increased in recent months.

The club employs two to seven private, unarmed security guards who work inside the premises and there are cameras in the parking lot, said Bill Pigott, a bar manager who worked the night of the brawl.

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