In Los Angeles, deadly jail riots have brought intense scrutiny to the mutated color war that’s hit our nation. In the days of old, most hate crimes against African Americans were committed by whites. Now, according to experts, 73% of those hate crimes are perpetrated by Latinos and in crime against Latinos, 80% of them are done by blacks. Racism had changed it colors.
Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca stated after the 2006 riots that: “the (prison) fights were part of an ‘ongoing gun battle’ between black and Latino gangs. ‘People on the outside are shot-calling to the inside to Latinos to start racial disturbances.’ Sheriff’s officials said a gang known as the Mexican Mafia is believed to have given the green light to prisoners of Mexican ancestry to go after African Americans.” *
This racial tension is echoed in Los Angeles neighborhoods like Watts and Compton. Once almost completely African American and known for its black culture, a census in 1990 reported that just under 50% of these areas had become Latino residents. Almost 10 years later, another census reported that 60% of these neighborhoods were now Latino. This dominance shift has also been seen in public schools, city housing, and politics; Mayor Villaraigosa’s election a perfect example.
But Los Angeles is not the only city to notice a change of guard. Post Hurricane Katrina, “New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin complained of Mexicans overrunning his city and displacing blacks. In a recent interview on CNN, Jesse L. Jackson also said he was worried about illegal Mexicans in New Orleans.” * It’s no secret that the population of Latinos across the nation has risen dramatically. What’s more interesting is that after decades of fighting against white on black racism, the same people who once railed against one color, are now concerned about another. Cases of African American complaints regarding the loss of jobs to Latinos is through the roof. Resentment it seems, has shifted.
“Los Angeles’ gang scourge has only added to the racial problems. The county is home to an estimated 1,000 gangs, predominantly Mexican and some of the most dangerous in the United States. ‘A decade ago,’ said civil rights lawyer Connie Rice, ‘black and Latino gangs operated in separate parts of the city. Then the populations merged and the borders mixed and now the underclass is at war.’ Tony Rafael, a gang expert who is writing a book on the Mexican Mafia, said so far the Latinos are winning. ‘Obviously it goes both ways, but the hammer is much bigger on the Latino side,’ Rafael said. ‘Blacks are outnumbered. And they can’t seem to create a united front to resist.'” *
So what’s the answer? In Chino this weekend, the riots that occurred, happened in integrated barracks; where prisoners share their cells with other prisoners of other races. Traditionally, inmates had been kept separated by race until the Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that automatic segregation was illegal. As a result, California prisons are changing their ways. Unfortunately, this shift is peppered with rioting, increased racial tensions, and death. Not to mention an overcrowding problem that’s so bad, the state has been ordered to release 43,000 inmates over the next two years.