Hate Crime in Mt. Vernon

I guess it’s ironic that all the news headlines are referring to the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, being forced to prove that “her identity won’t distort her decisions,” on the same day that Mt. Vernon is holding a Vigil for Justice in response to a hate crime that occurred last year, and was only recently brought to public attention.

Sixteen year old Robert Cantu, who is Hispanic, and a Caucasian friend, were walking to a Christian youth center, the Escape Zone, which is located at 316 S Main St, in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. While standing across the street across from the center, Robert observed a truck approach the area and come to a stop in front of the center. He heard the occupants of the truck make comments such as “we’re going fishing,” and “get the niggers.” At the time, there were a few African American boys in front of the center, who then began to run. The four occupants of the truck, including one later identified as Dale Klein, began to run after the boys. Klein caught one of the boys, who was able to fight off Klein and escape. Robert then froze in fear as he heard one of the four assailants say, “Get the fuckin’ Mexican.”

The assailants knocked Robert down and put a noose around his neck, and as they did so, they asked him if he wanted “to be hung”, called him a “spic”, and told him to “go back to Mexico”. The assailants dragged him down the road towards the truck by the end ofthe rope. While they were dragging him, Robert was able to put his hands between the noose and his neck to protect himself. During this time, they stated they were going totake Robert to a nearby park, Foundation Park, to hang him. Robert began yelling, and at that time, Robert’s friend and two other passer-bys intervened and were able to free Robert.

Only one of the four assailants (in the most recent attack) was charged, and ended up being sentenced to only 10 days in prison.

I would highly encourage anyone to read the original article which includes more details, especially about the legal process that followed.

I wish I had more commentary about this, but sometimes a summary is striking enough. What I can say is only a general desire that I’ve had for years: that I wish people would follow national politics a little less, and instead be actively present in their local politics. The issues that hover around Judge Sotomayor are explicitly physical in this case, and they can be directly confronted, or changed.


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