[Hpn] Racial tensions flare up from NJ homeless murder

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Tue, 26 Jun 2001 11:23:14 -0700


Philadelphia Daily News
Tuesday, June 26, 2001

Racial tensions flare up

Associated Press 

PATERSON, N.J. - A homeless man who was beaten and kicked to death last week
by a rampaging group of teen-agers in an attack has heightened concern over
tensions between blacks and Hispanics in this gritty industrial city.

Hector Robles, 42, was attacked shortly after police broke up a fight
between blacks and Hispanics at a nearby high school. Witnesses told police
he had been swarmed by black teen-agers who took his beer bottle and smashed
him in the head with it before beating him to death.

Eleven teen-agers have been arrested and all have been charged with murder
and robbery.

"They kicked him like a dog," said the man's sister, Miriam Robles. "It
looks to me like it was a racial thing. It was only blacks and he was
Hispanic, and because he was Hispanic, they took his bottle of beer and
cracked his head open with it and left him for dead."

Prosecutor Bob Corrado said prosecutors did not believe racial bias had been
a motive. "From what we've gotten, it hasn't even been mentioned," he said.

Still, the slaying and the arrests of the boys, ages 15 to 17, have provoked
shock and outrage in New Jersey's third-largest city. Nearly 100 people
visited the beating site Sunday for a candlelight vigil.

City leaders and residents have decried violence in the once-thriving
manufacturing community 15 miles west of New York. Hispanics account for
about half of the 149,000 residents, while blacks make up about a third.

High-school spokeswoman Jacqueline Jones said it was uncertain whether the
fight was connected to Robles' death. She said administrators did not
believe racial tensions in Paterson were particularly high but have started
conflict resolution and peer counseling programs to help prevent violence.

Prosecutor William Purdy said no decision has been made on whether the teens
will be tried as adults. *

 2000 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.

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