Table of Contents

Other Minorities

Although Blacks and Jews are the subject of most of the hoaxes, members of other ethnic groups have also taken part. A Seattle, Washington, case involving an Asian man demonstrates how complicated hoaxes can become. Cases In November 1990 the Seattle Chinese Post, an ethnic weekly, carried the headline: "UN Rally Against Racism, In Support Of Park," referring to Darres Park, a 23-year-old Korean-Chinese student, who had claimed he was attacked by six white men wielding baseball bats and tire irons. Park was quoted as saying "Hate crimes -- that is, usually racially motivated crimes -- have been on the rise and traditionally Asians have been told to grin and bear it. This rally is telling them something different...they don’t have to be victims." Park claimed that three whites had held off his two Caucasian friends A while a small crowd gathered to cheer the attackers on, some of them yelling, "Brain the gook." He also said that without his knowledge of martial arts his attackers would have succeeded. Clearly, Darres Park had become a local hero in the fight against bigotry and prejudice. On November 14, Park spoke at an "anti-hatred" rally sponsored by a University of Washington civil rights group. Chanting "Hey ho, hey ho, racism has got to go!" and waving banners, some 150 University of Washington students marched on the University President’s office demanding justice. Accounts of the alleged attack appeared nationwide, as well as in the International Herald Examiner. But there were problems with the story. Although Park claimed that he had reported the attack to police after a visit to a local hospital, police had no record of a report being filed. In fact, they had contacted Park after a story about the attack appeared in a community newspaper. Kevin Kane, a friend of Park who claimed to have witnessed the attack and who backed up Park’s assertion that he had reported the attack to police, revised his account under police questioning "I told them I was not at the station when the report was filed," he said. This was not a routine hate-crime hoax. On I3 December 1990 Darres Park and a confederate were charged with three armed bank robberies in Seattle and Battle Ground. Also charged in the bank robberies with Park was Joseph Fritz, white, who had also "witnessed" the attack on Park and initially supported his account to newspapers and police. On December 18, Seattle Police reported that Park’s account of the alleged "hate crime" was a gross exaggeration. The event, it turned out, involved an altercation outside a nightclub in which Park and a single opponent were both armed with clubs, not six racist skinheads as Park had reported. On 28 January 1992 Park pleaded guilty to bank robbery charges under an arrangement where the government agreed to drop weapons charges. Under federal sentencing guidelines he could receive up to 80 years in prison. A Maryland House of Delegates candidate returned to his Ft. Washington home in September 1990, to find two of his campaign signs burning in his yard and racial epithets painted on his garage. David Valderrama, a former Prince George’s County 0rphan’s Court Judge of Filipino descent, was running on a A slate of candidates called the "Democratic Unity Team," which included five blacks, the judge and one white. He speculated that the incident was "the work of a bigot or political opponent." Within a few days another story began to emerge. As investigating officers probed deeper into Valderrama’s story, he stopped cooperating. Lt. Col. Robert Phillips, commander of the patrol division, noted that he failed to keep appointments for questioning. "On the first occasion, he did not keep the appointment, indicating that his schedule prevented it. On the second occasion, he said he would not give a statement on the advice of his attorney." Police also said that they had possible fingerprint evidence in a case of alleged hate-mail directed at Valderrama, but when they asked him to provide his fingerprints or to take a polygraph examination he refused. In the meantime, the criminal investigation’s focus began to shift toward a campaign staffer who also refused to cooperate. Investigator’s had come to suspect someone on the staff because of the skillfully generated publicity by Valderrama’s handling of the incidents. On 15 September, 12 days after the incident occurred, the case was closed, although a WUSA-TV television report said that Valderrama was a suspect in the case. "A major cross-burning case in Prince George’s County was closed because of political pressure, according to reports, which say that the stumbling block was the office of State’s Attorney Alex Williams. Mr. Williams is politically aligned with the person who reported the crime on his property, State Delegate David Valderrama." A In San Jose, California, Chi Nguyen’s family found swastikas and antiAsian graffiti scrawled outside their home on December 1992. The vandals had written "Bitch" in ketchup on Nguyen’s daughter Betty’s car, and wrote "Nip Bitch" and "KKK" on the sidewalk and driveway of the house. Officer Veronica Damon said the police department was investigating the incident as a hate crime, which carries a maximum punishment of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Betty Nguyen said: "We’re standing up against discrimination and racism - once and for all. I think people should be aware of racial tension in the community." Five days later, however, newspapers downgraded the "hate crime" to a "prank." Police Detective Sgt. Art Munoz said the 17-year-old culprit, also a Vietnamese-American, had quarreled with Betty Nguyen three months previous and drew swastikas, KKK and slogans on the family property to anger the girl. Detective Munoz said that investigators felt something wasn’t quite right at the beginning of the case. Some of the slurs used almost polite language instead of the ugly terms often used in bona fide hate crimes. Sergie Rivera Ayala, a native of Mexico and a Spanish instructor at Syracuse University in New York, claimed that he had been abducted at knifepoint by two men. Sheriff’s deputies found him lying on the roadside 11 July 1990, his hands tied behind his back with his own bandana. He said he had been shopping for milk at a Cortland grocery story. Deputies didn’t believe him and he was arrested for a burglary at a nearby home. Ayala maintained he had been arrested and victimized by police solely because of his race. Nine months later, in April 1991, Ayala pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of criminal trespass in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor, and admitted in writing that the abduction story was a hoax. Ayala, in a signed statement, said "To the extent that there has been created the impression that I was arrested, prosecuted and persecuted because of my Mexican heritage and descent, I apologize." In Detroit, Michigan, an Arab-American was charged with arson in a 1991 incident in which he blamed anti-Arab racism for a fire at his Dairy Queen. Kareem Khoury, 36, was indicted on charges of arson and insurance fraud in July 1993, according to U. S. Attorney Stephen Markman. According to news reports: "Prosecutors said Khoury hired an employee to set the January 1991, fire to collect the insurance. The fire caused up to $500,000 in damage. Days before, someone tossed paint balloons and sprayed graffiti on the restaurant in what authorities said appeared to be an anti-Arab attack." 1 Jean Lepley, "UW Rally Against Racism, In Support of Park," Seattle Chinese Post (24 November 1990). 2 Kerry Godes, "Students At UW Protest Attack On Asian Han," Seattle Post-lntelligencer (15 November 1990). 3 Chuck Tayor, "Justice For Darres Park," Seattle Times (13 December 1990). N M 4 Michael A. Barber and Kerry Godes, "Alleged Attack Victim Arrested," Seattle Post+Intelligencer (13 December 1990). 5 Kerry Godes, "Hate-Crime Story Fakes, Says Seattle Police Dept," Seattle Post-lntelligencer (18 December 1990). 6 Steve Hiletich, "Hoax Perpetrator Pleads Guilty to Bank Robberies," Seattle Post+Intelligencer (29 January 1991). 7 Hark Vane, "Candidate Finds Fire, Epithets in Latest Racial-Tinged Vandalism," Washington Times (3 September 1990). 8 Richard Tapscott and Debbie M. Price, "P.G. Police Question Vandalism Report," Washington Post (7 September 1990). i 9 Hatt Neufeld, "Police Suspect Ploy by Insider," Washington Times (7 September 1990). 1 S 10 "Politics Cited In Cross-Burning Case," Washington Times (15 September 1992). 11 Alan Gathright, "Asian Family’s House Vandalized with Racist Epithets," San £958 Mercury News (5 December 1992). 12 Betty Barnacle and Rodney Foo, "Hate Crime Turns Out To Be A Prank," San Jose Mercury News (9 December 1992). 13 Jackie Hajerus, "Han Pleads Guilty, Says He Lied, Police Weren’t Racist," The Citizen (18 April 1991). 14 "Arson Alleged in Fire That Was Blamed on Arab Hatred, Seattle Times (29 July 1992). S