Two men of Latino descent that belong to a street gang in Compton NJ pleaded guilty last week to federal hate crime charges related to an attack on African-American teenagers that was racially motivated.
Jeffrey Aguilar and Efren Marquez both pleaded guilty to violations of the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crime Prevention Act.
Both men appeared in front of US District Judge Terry Hatter. There, both admitted that they both attacked a 17 year old black teenager on December 31, 2012. He was walking peacefully down the street in Compton, NJ, and Aguilar chased him and hit him in the head with a pipe. During this incident, Marquez threatened to shoot another black teenager who was there. Both of them admitted that this brutal attack was racially motivated.
According to US Attorney Andre Birotte, hate crimes hurt the people who are attacked but also the entire US society. That is why the federal government is strongly dedicated to working with local police departments to make sure that justice is done in these sorts of racially motivated hate crimes.
The Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice noted that these victims were assaulted and threatened due to their race, and this type of intimidation and violence has no place in modern society. DOJ will prosecute people who commit acts of hate like these.
Marquez and Aguilar will be sentenced on Jan. 6, 2014. At the sentencing, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
According to the FBI, getting justice for people who are victims of civil rights violations is one of the FBI’s key jobs. The success in the prosecution of this case is due to cooperation between the LA Sheriff’s Department, the DOJ and the US Attorney’s Office in LA.
According to Sheriff Lee Baca, hate crimes have a negative effect not just on victims but they also damage the democratic principles of society. All law enforcement in the US is dedicated to protect the civil rights of everyone in the country. The success of this particular investigation tells society that crimes that are racially motivated are not to be tolerated.
According to a media report, both men during the crime identified themselves as part of a street gang. They told the black victim that he and his family could nt live there because of their race. Both men yelled racial slurs and threatened violence. The victim feared for his life and started to run home. The gang members got out of their car and began to beat him with the pipe.
After the attack ended, the gang members took off in their car. Both men came back thirty minutes later with 20 gang members and surrounded the house of the victim. They shouted that blacks are not allowed to live in that neighborhood, and the ‘n’ word was used. Aguilar and Marquez had handguns at the scene.
The mothers of both men in the Compton hate crime claimed that their sons were not guilty, and they both downplayed the racial tensions in the Compton community.