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Council to Take Up 30-Year-Old Hate Letter

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By Jorge Casuso

June 7, 2021 -- The City Council on Tuesday will take up an anti-Mexican hate letter mailed to the homes of Latino Santa Monica High School students 30 years ago, a suspected hate crime that has gone unsolved.

The item was placed on the agenda by Councilmember Oscar de la Torre, who was Samohi student body president when the letter -- which called Mexicans "inferior," "dumb" and "brown animals" -- was mailed in April 1991.

The typed letter -- which identifies the sender as the "Samohi Association for the Advancement of Conservative White Americans" -- was mailed to as many as 800 Latino households, according to a July 23, 1991 article in The Outlook.

The Outlook reported that the sender used a school district mailing list and a bulk mail permit and that the Santa Monica Police Department had assigned two detectives to the case but had reached a dead end.

"In the spirit of healing and to work towards reconciliation," de la Torre's item would "direct the Chief of Police to provide an internal report to the Council on the investigation’s conclusions and findings."

The report -- to be shared with the Public Safety Reform and Oversight Commission -- would include "whether the United States Postal Inspection Service or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was engaged in the matter," according to the agenda item.

The 1991 letter was sent after a drive-by shooting took place on April 18 at Samohi.

"5 rounds were fired by 2 Mexicans," the letter reads. "Although no one was hit, we, the students, must restore respect for law and order. There will be frightening consequences if we don't. Someone will die."

"We're dealing with cruel and violent animals with no self control," the letter continues. "When we get rid of Mexicans, we get rid of evil. But there is just so many of them, you can't kill them all."

De la Torre is also asking the Council to "acknowledge the harm caused by the incident and express regret that the investigation did not produce justice for those affected."

De la Torre, who served 18 years on the School Board, would like to use the letter as a teaching tool.

His item calls for declaring a week in 2022 as “Santa Monica Hate Crimes Awareness Week,” which would "promote hate crime prevention and awareness efforts through a social media and public information campaign."

"If you can't solve the crime, maybe you can use it to teach," de la Torre said.

The issue of hate crime "never gets old," de la Tore said. "These issues are still important."

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