Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

August 7, 2012

Supremacist pleads guilty in death threat trial in Tucson

Supremacist pleads Guilty in Death Threat Trial

Roberto Rodriguez, Mexican American Studies professor, and author banned by Tucson Public Schools, describes the trial of the supremacist who threatened him

by Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
Posted at Censored News

Roberto Rodriguez
TUCSON -- Today was a historic date of sorts; the supremacist, Randall Leon Thompson, who threatened me pled guilty today Aug. 7, 2012, for sending threats over the telephone. He will be under managed supervision for a year, after he completes another 18 months of probation from another unrelated case.

Yet, this is not the end of the story. Please read this statement, that I was permitted to read in court. The end will give you a clue as to why this is not over.

"Greetings Judge                                                                                                       Aug 7, 2012

Nehua no toca, Professor Roberto Rodriguez, I am Macehual and a Tucson resident.

I have never met Mr. Thompson and I don’t know where he lives. Yet in his messages to me, he claimed I was trying to take his house and as such, threatened the use of a 357 magnum, to take me out, and to wage war against Mexicans.

He called my office phone not once, not twice, but three times.

The calls are full of hate and lots of anti-Mexican vitriol. It is the kind of hate that unfortunately has become common in this state. If you doubt me, look at the comments section in media, particularly here in our daily newspaper.

What puzzles me is why Mr. Thompson isolated me? Apparently, he is not the only one who seems to believe that I am a ringleader of sorts.

I do teach in Mexican-American Studies at the University of Arizona. During the past several years, the TUSD’s Mexican American Studies department and the discipline have been under unrelenting attack… and I do freely admit to defending both. Yet, I have not insulted or disrespected anyone. I have simply asked that the teachers, students and parents – and their views – be respected in this process.

The right to culture, history, identity, language and education (chile) are the linchpin of any society and are protected by the 2007 UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, along with 8 other international treaties.

Defending the department and discipline and asserting my rights as a full human being, should not warrant threats to my life or other forms of violence against anyone else, regardless of their race or culture.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In Tucson, we teach In lak Ech-Tu eres mi otro yo-you are my other me and Panche Be-buscar la raiz de la verdad-to seek the root of the truth. We teach our students to see themselves in each other, regardless of race or nationality or culture. But we also do teach them to stand up for their rights.

Somehow, all this has been severely distorted. The Atty. Gen., Tom Horne, continues to insist that we teach a highly racist curriculum. He appears not to understand that that is highly insulting. Combating inequalities or fighting against racial supremacy is part of a historic struggle to treat all people as full human beings.

I don’t want anything else. I don’t want anybody's land… especially nobody else’s house… just the right to be treated as a full human being. I don’t want anything from the court, except to ask Mr. Thompson why he isolated me… yet I do have a question for the court: do these threats – given Justice Department definitions -- not rise to the level of hate crimes?"

After I read this, the judge said it was a good question and a question that I need to ask of the U.S. Attorney for the region. And I do plan to do this.

In part, I pursued this case because apparently, lots of people receive death threats in Tucson/Arizona. I was aware that human rights icon, Isabel Garcia, receives death threats for her heroic work, particularly with the human rights/migrant rights organization Derechos Humanos, but I was not aware that death threats are as common as saguaros here.

When I received these threats, it had come on the heels of the threat posted on YouTube against the UNIDOS students who had just taken over the Tucson school boardroom on April 26, 2012. That threat, which urged viewers to "shoot them in the head," had been dismissed by the Tucson Police Department as but "a joke."

When I received the death threats on May 9, 2011, people from all walks of life told me they had received death threats too. In part, that was the motivation for pursuing the charges against Mr. Thompson. Not many people followed through with pressing charges, or in some cases, they were simply ignored or dismissed.

That's why I will continue to pursue federal hate crime charges. Death threats should not be business as usual. They are illegal and they should not be treated casually. Let's see what happens at the federal level.

I will leave here what I found in terms of the federal definition of a hate crime:

Here is what I found, though it is undated:
U.S. Department of Justice
Community Relations Service
Rose Ochi, Director, Community Relations Service
Hate Crime: The Violence of Intolerance
The Community Relations Service (CRS), an arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, is a specialized Federal conciliation service available to State and local officials to help resolve and prevent racial and ethnic conflict, violence and civil disorders. When governors, mayors, police chiefs, and school superintendents need help to defuse racial crises, they turn to CRS. CRS helps local officials and residents tailor locally defined resolutions when conflict and violence threaten community stability and well-being. CRS conciliators assist in identifying the sources of violence and conflict and utilizing specialized crisis management and violence reduction techniques which work best for each community. CRS has no law enforcement authority and does not impose solutions, investigate or prosecute cases, or assign blame or fault. CRS conciliators are required by law to conduct their activities in confidence, without publicity, and are prohibited from disclosing confidential information.
In 1997, CRS was involved in 135 hate crime cases that caused or intensified community racial and ethnic tensions. As authorized by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, CRS became involved only in those cases in which the criminal offender was motivated by the victim's race, color, or national origin. Of all hate crime incidents reported to the U.S. Department of Justice's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 1996, 72 percent were motivated by the victim's race, color, or national origin.

Hate Crime
Hate crime is the violence of intolerance and bigotry, intended to hurt and intimidate someone because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious, sexual orientation, or disability. The purveyors of hate use explosives, arson, weapons, vandalism, physical violence, and verbal threats of violence to instill fear in their victims, leaving them vulnerable to more attacks and feeling alienated, helpless, suspicious and fearful. Others may become frustrated and angry if they believe the local government and other groups in the community will not protect them. When perpetrators of hate are not prosecuted as criminals and their acts not publicly condemned, their crimes can weaken even those communities with the healthiest race relations.
Of all crimes, hate crimes are most likely to create or exacerbate tensions, which can trigger larger community-wide racial conflict, civil disturbances, and even riots. Hate crimes put cities and towns at-risk of serious social and economic consequences. The immediate costs of racial conflicts and civil disturbances are police, fire, and medical personnel overtime, injury or death, business and residential property loss, and damage to vehicles and equipment. Long-term recovery is hindered by a decline in property values, which results in lower tax revenues, scarcity of funds for rebuilding, and increased insurance rates. Businesses and residents abandon these neighborhoods, leaving empty buildings to attract crime, and the quality of schools decline due to the loss of tax revenue. A municipality may have no choice but to cut services or raise taxes or leave the area in its post-riot condition until market forces of supply and demand rebuild the area.

Victims and Perpetrators
In 1996, the FBI received reports of 10,706 hate crimes from State and local law enforcement agencies, involving 11,039 victims, and 10,021 known perpetrators. The crimes included 12 murders, 10 forcible rapes, 1,444 aggravated assaults, 1,762 simple assaults, and 4,130 acts of intimidation.
Among the known perpetrators, 66 percent were white, and 20 percent were black. Some perpetrators commit hate crimes with their peers as a "thrill" or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; some as a reaction against a perceived threat or to preserve their "turf'; and some who out of resentment over the growing economic power of a particular racial or ethnic group engage in scapegoating.

Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Good article and information