April 15, 1999
The aggression against people who are different is a human tradition from the genocide of Armenians following World War I (featured in this week's cover story) to hate-spurred murders in Texas and Wyoming to racial slurs on the wall of a local high school.
Anti-hate advocates warn there is a connection.
"Absolutely, those susceptible to ethnic cleansing are also susceptible to hate crimes," Humboldt County Human Rights Commissioner Jennifer Shoffner said. These days, reports indicate hate crimes are more apparent, if anything, because victims are coming forward. The crimes are also more violent.
In 1998 two hate crimes those aimed at a specific group or individual were reported in Humboldt County to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Then just last week, graffiti vandals broke into McKinleyville High School and spray-painted racial slurs on the wall, Humboldt County sheriff's Sgt. Pete Ciarabellini confirmed. Some, more graphic than others, made derogatory remarks about "niggers" and school officials. The wall was signed the "KKK."
"It could be a disgruntled student who's also a racist," Ciarabellini said, adding the case will be investigated as a hate crime.
Mack High isn't the first incident this year. An angry exchange occurred at South Fork High School in Miranda several months ago, when those participating in a cultural diversity workshop were confronted, said HSU police Sgt. Dennis Souza, who serves on the Hate Crimes Prevention Network the commission formed to support the authorities and citizens.
Evidence of hate seeps into every community in many different forms, he said, adding rural communities are vulnerable because newcomers bring their discriminatory attitudes with them and simply "align themselves with groups or individuals with the same attitude."
Before fizzling out a few years ago, a white supremacist group called the "American Front" tried to gather a following, with sympathizers passing out hate literature under doors and on windows, Souza recalled.
Another member of the hate crime network, Lorey Keele, suggests these engrained attitudes represent an insecure "power struggle" hate believers have upon "losing their territory" and "not doing well" in their own lives. The pent-up feelings come out as displaced aggression, said Keele, who has worked to form human rights commissions nationwide.
"(Denigrating someone else's culture) is done in every part of the world since the beginning of time," she said, referring to the extermination of the Jews during World War II and the current Kosovo crisis.
In the wake of an ethnic cleansing campaign in the Balkans, President Clinton said the United States is "as vulnerable as Kosovo," when he asked Congress to extend federal hate crime laws to include offenses based on sexual orientation, gender or disability. Facing an uncertain future in Congress, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee later this month.
"It's very humbling. We should remember that each of us almost wakes up every day with the scales of light and darkness in our own hearts, and we've got to keep them in proper balance. And we have to be, in the United States, absolutely resolute about this," Clinton said.
His speech came the day after Russell Henderson, 21, was sentenced to life in prison for the brutal killing of a gay Wyoming college student, Matthew Shepard.
Clinton's appeal also came amid the second week of the NATO bombing in response to the Kosovo refugee crisis and on the heels of last summer's dragging death of a black man, James Byrd, Jr., in Jaspar, Texas.
The FBI has counted more than 8,000 hate incidents in 1997 in the United States. More than half were due to race bias. California is one of 40 states with hate crime laws. Half of these states prosecute crimes based on sexual orientation.
A state Assembly panel moved AB 222 through the Education Committee last week. The bill is aimed at discouraging attacks of students in schools based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation. (Current law already prohibits public schools and colleges that accept public funds from discriminating on the basis of gender, race, religion or ethnic group.)
A section of the bill relating to curriculum became highly controversial and died in committee when church groups protested it as giving "special rights" to homosexuals, AP reported. The bill heads to the Appropriations Committee next.
"If we allow this bias to go unchecked, it can quickly escalate into violence," said Jennifer Richard, aide to Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, who authored the bill.
To back the need to sensitize school systems, Richard used research showing a majority of these incidents are caused by males in their early 20s, she said.
The number of anti-gay murders increased by 136 percent last year, from 14 in 1997 to 33 in 1998, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reports. The network of community-based organizations also found that gay-related serious assaults resulting in hospitalizations rose by 108 percent.
by Susan Wood
The flocks of people might just outnumber the flocks of birds on the eve of Earth Day at the third annual March for the Arcata Marsh fundraiser.
The two-mile march begins at the Marsh Interpretive Center, 569 G St., at 9 a.m. April 21. Organized by elementary school teacher Alan Ward and Humboldt State University Assistant Professor Carolyn Widner, the march is set in conjunction with the National Parks and Conservation Association's March for Parks the largest national Earth Day event.
"When this (local event) started, it was a one-man show," Widner said. "Alan Ward stayed up all night organizing. My students last year saw what it meant for the community, and this year we have 35 volunteers who are looking at me saying, `What else can I do?'"
Some volunteers have created educational exhibits specifically for Wednesday's march. These exhibits, which range in topic from tides and plants to bird feathers and bills, will be set up along the marsh's wildlife preserve trails during the event.
"We're hoping to inform people about the seminal importance of the marsh in our community," Widner said. "We want people to know it's a place to learn and a place to go recreate."
One of the other purposes of the march is to raise money. Marchers are encouraged to get pledges from friends, family or businesses, with the money going toward marsh-restoration projects and new educational displays designed by HSU students for the Interpretive Center.
Participants in the first March for the Marsh raised $800 and last year's march brought in about $1,700. This year, Pacific Union Elementary and several other Arcata schools are expected to bus students to the event.
There will be a rally prior to the march to recognize participants who raise the most money. A storyteller and several speakers will also be on hand.
Pledge forms can be obtained at the Eureka and Arcata North Coast Co-Op or Wildberries Marketplace in Arcata. All donations should be brought to the March event. For more information, call the Interpretive Center at 826-2359.
California Department of Forestry Director Andrea Tuttle has determined that stricter logging rules will apply for Pacific Lumber Co. in respect to a controversial timber harvest plan adjacent to the Headwaters Forest Reserve.
Tuttle ordered that THP 520, a 700-acre site referred to as the "hole in the Headwaters" by environmentalists, will follow the guidelines of AB 1986, a riparian buffer-zone section of PL's habitat conservation plan, CDF spokeswoman Karen Terrill confirmed.
The middle-of-the-road ruling dictates stricter rules than the state Forest Practices Act but less stringent than the habitat conservation plan, born out of the Headwaters deal weeks ago, that dictates how PL manages its 211,000 acres.
Tuttle's decision came after the Sierra Club and the Environmental Protection Information Center filed suit against her agency, citing "serious biological and legal problems" with PL's sustained yield plan and approved permits.
Even with this latest decision, EPIC spokesman Paul Mason said the ruling doesn't go far enough in protecting the biologically sensitive Elk River watershed.
But PL spokeswoman Mary Bullwinkel said the company is "disappointed" by the decision and takes issue with the pre-approved status of the timber harvest plan in question. It was transferred to PL in the Headwaters deal and timber company officials "were given assurances" the site was open for harvest, she said.
It was too soon to estimate the economic effects of stiffer logging rules on the timber company, but Bullwinkel said the "restrictions don't help."
In the last two months the company has laid off more than 350 workers, citing low log inventory.
Hundreds of mourners, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and state Sen. Wesley Chesbro, gathered Sunday to honor slain Eureka residents Carole Sund, 43, and her daughter Juli, 15.
The two were murdered along with family friend Silvina Pelosso, 16, of Cordoba, Argentina, while sight-seeing near Yosemite National Park in February. Family members stressed the time of mourning as also a time of honoring the two community-minded citizens. The ceremony in Eureka was one of several memorials held this week across the state.
The FBI is continuing to follow up on leads and question nearby residents and potential suspects in the triple homicide, which has received national press coverage.
A federal grand jury will hear evidence in Fresno related to the case, but "no criminal charges are imminent," FBI spokesman Nick Rossi said.
Humboldt State University hopes to propel alternative energy into the next century.
HSU's Schatz Energy Research Center has recently obtained a patent on its fuel cell design, used to power such things as a small car, golf carts, telephone service for the Yurok Tribe in the Klamath River Valley and even an ice cream maker.
"This allows us to claim intellectual property to sell, so it greases the skids for licensing," SERC Director Peter Lehman said in a statement.
The fuel cell technology involves a quiet, efficient and clean generator that chemically produces electricity from hydrogen and air. Fuel cells have been used as power sources on spacecraft for decades.
SERC built its first fuel cell in 1992 to power aquarium pumps at HSU's marine laboratory.
A local coffee roaster is giving people a wake-up call to pitch in for needy children and families in coffee-producing countries around the globe.
With every coffee beverage or pound of coffee purchased made in April, the Humboldt Bay Coffee Co. will donate 5 cents to the Coffee Kids fund. The worldwide non-profit program seeks solutions to such global problems as child mortality, poor nutrition, bad sanitation and environmental degradation.
The Humboldt Bay Coffee Co. is owned by
John Hall and Jane Lufkin.
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