Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hayden: Welcome Home Alex Sanchez, Celebration! ~ Wednesday, February 24th, 7:00 PM

From: johnaimani


A Welcome Home Celebration for Alex Sanchez

Wednesday, February 24th, 7:00 PM

National Center for The Preservation of Democracy
111 N. Central Avenue, Los Angeles 90012
(Across from Japanese American National Museum & MOCA/Geffen)

A Conversation on Youth Violence & Juvenile Justice
with Youth, Gang Interventionists, Academics, Activists and Artists.

Donations accepted at the door! No one turned away for lack of funds.
Please support.

www.wearealex.org <http://www.wearealex.org/>

From Mike De La Rocha

Dear Friends,
First off, thank you so much for your continued support of Alex and
for your commitment to working to increase positive alternatives for
gang-involved youth and their families.

As you know, Alex is now free on bail and to celebrate his homecoming
and to update the community on what's happening, the We Are Alex
Campaign are having a Peace Platica / Welcome Home Celebration for
Alex next Wednesday, February 24th at 7pm at the National Center for
the Preservation of Democracy across from the Japanese American Museum
in downtown LA.

We have one week to publicize the event so please utilize your
facebook pages, twitter, and classrooms (extra credit opportunity for
you teachers out there) to get the word out. All donations collected
at the door will be utilized for the overall campaign (as many of you
know we still need to raise $7,000 to pay for costs associated with
the bail). Let's keep the momentum building for what will most
certainly be a long trail and sincere thanks for all the organizations
and individuals who have consistently come out to all the We Are Alex

Sincere thanks for everything,



By Tom Hayden

The indictment of Alex Sanchez, a revered gangbanger-turned-peacemaker,
raises new doubts about whether the Los Angeles police department has
reformed enough to be released from a federal court order.

The Sanchez indictment makes the same charges hurled by the LAPD and federal
anti-gang task force a decade ago, that his community-based violence
prevention work is only a "front" for continuing ties to Mara Salvatrucha,
the feared immigrant street gang that arose after the 1970s Central American

The Rampart scandal, named after a police precinct in the immigrant
Pico-Union neighborhood, erupted in the late 1990s when a corrupt police
officer, Rafael Perez, began testifying to widespread police criminality
after being caught selling cocaine out of his locker room. The US Justice
Department charged a pattern and practice of constitutional violations,
including shootings, brutality, and planting of evidence. Sanchez was
targeted for deportation by the LAPD and INS in January 2000, months after
testifying publicly about police harassment of community peace workers. As
the scandal mounted, federal prosecutors chose not to prosecute him for
illegal entry to the US, where his two-year old son and family lived, but
turned the case over to an INS court. On July 10, 2002 the INS judge granted
him political asylum, the first such verdict in history.

Since those days, Sanchez has built up Homies Unidos, a transnational gang
peace organization from the US to El Salvador. Its hazardous work centered
on trying to prevent gang violence and open alternative paths for young
people, including art therapy, spiritual exercises, education,
rehabilitation, training and job development. Alex became a beloved figure
in the community, making endless presentations before wider audiences around
the country. His activity spawned enemies in the gang world, and never
satisfied the LAPD and federal war-on-gangs units' desire to retaliate
against one who caused them unprecedented embarrassment.

The escalating war against mara salvatrucha provided the prosecutors the
opportunity. The use of federal racketeering and conspiracy laws is the
favored prosecution tool in this war, charging large numbers of alleged MS
members with operating a large top-down enterprise with a board of
directors, finding them guilty of conspiracy instead of trying them on
individual counts of drug-dealing or violence. Alex Sanchez is named in the
indictment as one of four "shot-callers" in the Normandie neighborhood in
Pico-Union. He therefore is held accountable for any crimes of anyone who
can be connected with the organization. The indictment includes 153 overt
acts in furtherance of the conspiracy to violate the racketeering laws.

Fifty-six of the overt acts consist of street corner drug sales to
undercover FBI informants. The serious counts include eight murders and one
murder plot, five of them occurring between 2001 and 2003. Instead of
bringing murder charges in individual cases, where evidence might be
difficult to accumulate, the defendants need only to be "associated" with
the conspiracy to be found guilt.

Alex Sanchez is accused of being heard on wiretapped phone calls on May 6
and 7, 2006, in which several members of MS "conspired" to kill Walter
Lacinos, whose street name was Cameron. On May 15, an alleged MS member
killed Cameron in La Libertad, El Salvador.

To illustrate the nature of the charge, imagine that the following
conversation took place:

First party: that dude should be shot.
Second party: No question.

In an ordinary criminal trial, it would be difficult to connect these words
to an actual deed one week later. There would be evidence, for example, that
all kinds of people wanted Cameron dead. He was deported to El Salvador
after serving at least fifteen years in California state prisons as a
high-ranking gang member. He had enemies as well as friends. But in the
conspiracy model, it is easier for the prosecution to "prove" that the
wiretapped voices are people who "conspired" in his death.

This example is purely hypothetical. The government has not released the
actual content of the tapes, nor a list of its witnesses, nor any of the
documents it will be compelled to hand the defense.

Alex Sanchez denies the charges.

Most gang researchers and defense attorneys are critical of RICO and state
laws like California's Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act
[STEP]. Malcolm Klein, considered the dean of gang research at the
University of Southern California, thinks the notion of vertically-organized
cartels with an Al Capone at the top makes no sense.

"These [federal] agencies know and understand organized crime. They do not
know street gangs. They often assume the two are similar, when in fact they
are not…Calling each kind of group a gang leads to the application of cartel
thinking to street gangs." [Klein, The American Street Gang, Oxford, 1995,
p. 167]

Even more dismissive is Father Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit who works directly
with street gang members in the most well-known organization of its kind in
the country.

"These [federal] agencies know and understand organized crime. They do not
know street gangs. They often assume the two are similar, when in fact they
are not…Calling each kind of group a gang leads to the application of cartel
thinking to street gangs." [Klein, The American Street Gang, Oxford, 1995,
p. 167]

Even more dismissive is Father Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit who works directly
with street gang members in the most well-known organization of its kind in
the country, from whose June 28 email I quote here:

"This is all heartbreaking, I've sent a letter for the granting of bail…A
New York Times reporter called me and what they think they have is a 'gang
interventionist gone bad' story. I've told two reporters here's your story:
law enforcement is unable to interpret what they have.

"There is a gulf between what they have [wiretap evidence, witnesses] and
what they think they have. The FBI could multiply their tools and resources
and this still would not issue in actual knowledge of how gangs think or

"I spoke to two MS members who I trust and who would tell me the unvarnished
truth about Alex. They actually hadn't heard the news. I said, "They claim
that Alex is the shot caller for the Normandie clique of MS." They laughed
and deemed the whole thing ridiculous. They would have told me otherwise if
it was true. I didn't need affirmation in this but it just underscores my
point. Law enforcement will never have access or knowledge of this issue.
But they see through a glass darkly and so Alex gets caught up in their

"Just yesterday, a homie who works for me, gets stopped by Hollenbeck cops,
who tell him, "I know for a fact that Fr. Greg is affliated with the Mexican
Mafia." A month ago , a cop tells another homie that the Mexican Mafia holds
meetings at Homegirl Cafe (Chief Bratton has his Tues. morning meeting at
the Homegirl Cafe every week--but I don't know when the EME has their
meetings at my place.)

"They aren't just trying to discredit me--I think they believe this
stuff--because they know very little about gangs, and so have to interpret
what they see from a place of real ignorance. Yet every jury and judge in
the land think law enforcement (and of course, the FBI,) know what they're
talking about. But no one who lives in any of the 12 hot-zones in LA think
cops know very much about this. Anyway--it's complex. The cops must force
the square peg into the round hole. It's not a conspiracy to get Alex, it's
what happens when you only possess half the pieces to the jigsaw puzzle and
feel forced to assert that they have all the pieces.

Later I received a follow up email from the priest:

"You know me--I'm not much of a conspiracy buff--it requires so much
sophistication. Cops don't possess this. All of this is cultural--a
bias and predisposition, a by-product of wholesale demonizing. Which is
to say, it's worse than a conspiracy.

"Had mass at the Chino YTS last night--again, illuminating to speak to
MS guys. They were very clear about Alex's role in the community and
how he was, in fact, the opposite of "shot caller" for MS. If he is
the shot caller, why do all his troops not know it?

All this raises severe questions about whether – and how – the LAPD has been
reformed, almost a decade after agreeing to terminate its patterns and
practices about rampant constitutional violations at Ramparts.


Videos from Press Conference following Alex Sanchez's Bail Hearing -


Phone: 213.383.7484
Fax: 213.383.7482

Email: homiesunidoses@homiesunidos.org

Web Site: http://homiesunidos.org/aboutus.html

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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