By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Responding to 34 arrests made over the last few days in connection with what police are calling bias-motivated attacks by black gang members, former Congressman Tom Tancredo Monday called for the Denver district attorney to use hate crime laws in charging the men.
“I personally do not believe in ‘hate crime’ laws. But if that law is used against some racial and ethnic groups, it should be applied equally to all groups,” said Tancredo.
Police on Friday announced the arrest of 32 men and juveniles after a four-month-long undercover investigation into gang activity targeted at white and Hispanic men. The 33rd suspect turned themselves in on Sunday. The 34th of 35 suspects wanted in the investigation was arrested Monday in Indiana. Police are seeking extradition through the district attorney’s office.
Police Monday were still looking for the last suspect, Allen Ford, 18. Anyone with information pertaining to the case is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP.
Police said many of the 26 assaults and robberies took place in downtown Denver, including along the 16th Street Mall. Some of the violence was recorded by the gang members themselves as trophy video footage. During the attacks, white and Hispanic men were sucker-punched, then beaten while down only to have their personal property stolen. Throughout the beatings, gang members with the Rollin’ 60s Crips and the Black Gangster Disciples would taunt their victims with racial epithets, said police.
A spokeswoman for District Attorney Mitch Morrissey said the chief prosecutor only just started receiving the cases and will analyze the evidence through today to determine what formal charges are warranted. She said Morrissey would be considering bias-motivated crimes in his examination.
“We have not yet received the cases for filing here and our decision around what charges to file in each individual case are based on the specific facts and evidence that are contained in that case,” said Lynn Kimbrough, spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office. “We’ll be making charging decisions case-by-case when the detectives bring those cases over for our review. We try not to pre-judge the evidence before we see it.”
Meanwhile, Tancredo is hoping that Morrissey sees the case for the hate crimes element. The former congressman says hate crimes don’t just have to be against minorities.
“What is Morrissey waiting for? This new case of the black gangs seeking out and targeting white and Hispanic victims is a no-brainer,” he said. “Either the City of Denver will enforce hate crimes laws fairly or people will conclude that some victims have fewer rights than other victims. If that’s the case, those laws should be repealed.”
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters