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Entries in racial tensions (3)

Thursday
Dec152011

Exclusive: ‘White Only’ Pool Sign Owner Explains

A female landlord, Jamie Hein, had a sign that read, "Public Swimming Pool, White Only" hanging on a gate at her house and her private pool. (Photo credit: Ohio Civil Rights Commission)(NEW YORK) -- An Ohio landlord accused of discriminating against an African-American girl with a “white only” sign at her swimming pool told ABC News that the sign was an antique and a decoration.

“I’m not a bad person,” said Jamie Hein of Cincinnati. “I don’t have any problem with race at all. It’s a historical sign.”

The sign in question reads, “Public Swimming Pool, White Only.” It is dated 1931 and from Alabama.

Hein, 31, was unapologetic about the racist origins of the sign that she displayed at the entrance to her pool. She said she collects antiques and was given the sign as a gift. She also said that even though the sign seems to indicate that the pool is public, the pool is on her private property and “everybody has to ask before getting in my pool.”

Michael Gunn, 40, is the man who took issue with Hein’s sign and filed a discrimination charge with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. He was a tenant in one of Hein’s properties.

“We invited my daughter, who is African-American, to visit and swim in the pool for the Memorial Day weekend,” Gunn wrote in his complaint. “The owner, Jamie Hein, accused my daughter of making the pool ‘cloudy’ because she used chemicals in her hair. Days later, she posted a sign on the gate to the pool which reads, ‘Public Swimming Pool, White Only.’”

Hein said that the sign had nothing to do with Gunn’s daughter and that it was already up at the time of that party, but cannot be seen when the gate is open.

Gunn said the family previously, “had unrestricted access to the pool area,” but Hein said that was not the case. She said everyone, including her own father, has to ask permission before swimming in her pool.

Gunn did not respond to requests for comment. In his complaint, he wrote that he moved out of Hein’s property in June “in order to not expose my daughter to the sign and the humiliation of the message.”

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission found on Sept. 29 that Hein did violate the Ohio Civil Rights Act by posting the sign, but Hein has asked that the decision be reconsidered. The sign has since been stolen.

“I’ve never said anything to that child,” Hein said. “If I have to stick up for my white rights, I have to stick up for my white rights. It goes both ways.”

The commission will meet to come to a final decision on Jan. 12, according to Brandi Martin, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug112011

Video of White Teens Killing Black Man Sparks Reports of More Assaults

Jupiterimages/Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The white Mississippi teens caught on surveillance video beating a black man, then killing him by running him over with a pickup truck may be responsible for other attacks on homeless black men in the area, the head of the state's NAACP told ABC News.

James Anderson, an auto worker, was killed June 26 in Jackson, Miss. His murder received renewed attention when the grisly surveillance video surfaced this week.

The video allegedly shows Deryl Dedmon, 18, and several of his friends beating Anderson, and then driving over his body. Dedmon, who is accused of driving the pickup truck that lurched over Anderson's body in the video, is in jail on $800,000 bond awaiting a grand jury investigation into Anderson's homicide.

Dedmon's friend, John Rice, who was at the scene during the beating, had originally been charged with murder. But during a preliminary hearing detectives testified Rice, who is also 18, left the parking lot before Anderson got run over.

Rice's charge was lowered to simple assault and will be sent to the grand jury along with Dedmon's. In the meantime, Rice was released on $5,000 bail.

The teens charged have not yet entered a plea. Neither Dedmon nor Rice's lawyer returned a call from ABC News.

Prosecutors are trying to determine if the other teens involved in the incident should also be charged.

The attack on Anderson may have been the latest assault on blacks in the area, Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi NAACP, told ABC News. He said evidence indicates the white teenagers deliberately "set out to go and mess with African Americans."

Johnson said that sources who wished to remain anonymous said the teens "had, as a practice, targeted African Americans in the city of Jackson who were homeless." He's now working to verify the legitimacy of those claims.

Jackson police spokeswoman Colendula Green said detectives had received a call from "one person" saying that "white people" were beating up on homeless African Americans. They looked into it, she said, and couldn't substantiate the claims.

For now, she said, "it's hearsay," and the alleged incident reported to police happened "three or four years ago."

Some of the racial tension in the area stems from the racial disparity between Brandon, Miss., which is 90 percent white, and the town of Jackson in Hinds County, which is 70 percent African-American, according to Johnson.

Brandon, located in Rankin County, is often referred to as "the white flight county from Jackson," said Johnson.

There has been a "huge increase over last 20 years of working class or poor whites in Rankin County," he added. "With that created a lot of tensions because when you have individuals who are not neighbors, don't know each other, and carry the baggage of racism, you develop a culture of racial hatred."

Johnson says they've gotten a "slew of calls" asking if they will organize a demonstration. But they are being cautious.

"We decided to allow the investigation to mature and at that time respond based on the information that is released," Johnson said.

"It's really easy for people to come and sensationalize it, or for individuals to demagogue the issue. We're trying to make sure at the end of the day that justice is brought," Johnson said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar102011

Gang Rape of 11-Year-Old Girl Sparks Racial Tensions in Texas Town

ABC News(CLEVELAND, Texas) -- The alleged gang rape of an 11-year-old girl by at least 18 boys and young men has sparked shame and outrage in a tiny Texas town, but it has also stirred racial tensions that threaten to split the East Texas hamlet.

All of the defendants arrested are African-American and the girl is Hispanic.

The hardscrabble town of Cleveland, which is 45 miles from Houston, has fewer than 8,000 residents and since the saw mill closed the biggest employers are Wal-Mart and a nearby prison. In a town this small, everyone is a neighbor, but that small town ambience is being severely strained.

The rape allegedly occurred last November, and the list of suspects has been growing as arrests keep coming. It's not clear whether more arrests are in the works.

The suspects range in age from 14 to 26, include stars on the high school's basketball team as well as the son of a school board member.

But as the investigation drags on, the shock and indignation has been tinged with an undercurrent of racial tension.

"I feel sorry for the little girl. I feel sorry for everyone involved...the city is in turmoil," Inez Dickerson said.

Dickerson, 68, is the great-grandmother of one of the defendants in the case. Her grandson has not been publicly identified by police because he is a minor.

Dickerson remembers when her great-grandson called to tell her the crime he's accused of committing.

"When I got on the phone, he was crying. He said, 'Granny, I've been accused of something. I'm scared,'" Dickerson said. "He's pretty tore up about it."

"I'm not going to play the race card on this because my grandson and all the rest were very young men and they could have given a second thought on this," Dickerson said.

While Dickerson believes the flaring of racial tensions isn't warranted, others disagree.

Houston community activist Quanell X will host a town hall meeting Thursday evening called "What's the real truth behind the rape allegations?"

"Every adult male that had sex with this child should go to prison, I don't care what the color is. But I do not believe black males are the only ones that had contact with this young child," said Quanell X, the leader of Houston's New Black Panther Party. "It appears to me there's only been the selective prosecution of one community, which is African American."

Quannell X alleges the rally has been moved from a church to a community center because, "The church received some death threats." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio