On January 26, 2013 the Orange County Human Relations Commission  held the second in a series of  “Listening Sessions” at the the Yorba Linda Friendship Baptist Church, inviting  African-American community members to share their stories, challenges, and celebrations of living in Orange County.   The first session was held December 8 at Christ Our Redeemer AME Church in Irvine.   The “Listening Sessions” wer prompted by the experiences of an African-American family who were targeted by hate in Yorba Linda.

Sunday afternoon an African American 15 year old  high school student told me a White student with a shaved head and covered with tattoos was threatening to kill all Blacks on campus in online posts.  He said they complained, so the administration searched his backpack and found a gun.  He also shared that a group of students were planning to come to school dressed as KKK members at Halloween, and that the school stopped this as well.  He said that someone put up posters on campus that read, “You can’t hide in the shadows, we will find you”, in connection with these threats.  He said that White kids on campus think that it is OK to use the word, Nigger, because they have a friend that is Black…But it is not OK.

This high school student was part of approximately 150 members of Friendship Baptist Church in Yorba Linda and friends who joined OC Human Relations for a Listening Session.  Commissioner Doug Wooley attended services and was introduced by Rev. Ken Curry and made an announcement that helped draw a great group.
Two city council members attended, as well as a handful of local concerned Yorba Linda residents.

The following report of the January 26 session  is from KABC-TV Los Angeles.

Orange County hosts hate crime discussion for residents

Amy Powell,  ABC7 Eyewitness News.

YORBA LINDA, Calif. (KABC) — A meeting was held in Orange County on Sunday to allow people to speak up about racially motivated harassment and vandalism.

The afternoon event held at Friendship Baptist Church in Yorba Linda was the second of three gatherings organized in response to hate crimes against a family who lived in the city. About 100 people gathered at what the Orange County Human Relations Commission described as a listening session.

In October, an African-American couple reported several alleged hate crimes to the commission. They said rocks were thrown through their windows in the middle of the night, car tires were slashed, racial epithets were yelled at one of their two sons and acid pellets were fired into their garage. The family said they were forced to move away.

“It became a community issue,” said Rev. Kenneth Curry of Friendship Baptist Church. “The community became aware of it, there were members in our church that were very concerned and they wanted to know, ‘What can we do to address this issue?'”

The commission said African Americans are the most frequent target of hate crimes in the county.

“I think it resonates among the Africa-American community that there are things that are happening not to everybody, not all the time, not the defining reality, but part of life that we’re very unaware of and the rest of the community, and that’s why we’re here,” said Rusty Kennedy, the commission’s executive director.

A similar meeting is scheduled to be held in Santa Ana.

(Copyright ©2013 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Story by Amy Powell