On Wednesday Superior Court Judge James Milliken sentenced the final three youths to jail who participated in the savage attack on migrants, in 2000, near Carmel Valley. Steve Deboer, 19, was sentenced to one year in prison. Bradley Davidofsky, 18, and Adam Ketsdever, 18, each were sentenced to two years in county jail.
In all, eight young men attacked five migrant workers, who had set up camp in the valley, terrorized and injuring the workers with sticks, a BB gun, and setting a hut on fire. The attack was horrifying and poignant in that the youths intended to “hunt beaners” All the youths served, or are serving terms, of varying lengths in prison. All must serve terms of probation, complete 200 hours of community service, and complete a class on racial and ethnic tolerance.
The attack was horrific and attained notoriety. The boys needed to be held accountable for their actions and they needed to be punished for those actions. This has taken place. For these eight boys whatever their life may have been, is forever gone.
Unfortunately, what was not on trial were the attitudes and societal atmosphere that fostered a sense in these boys’ minds that their actions were okay. It was okay to attack migrant workers, that they did not see these men as human beings, but something less. The boys’ actions were not an independent act, an act thought of, in a vacuum, but was an act of a lifelong upbringing where they had heard, learned, and seen these attitudes all their life’s. For them they didn’t think about it.
Beaners, taco benders, greasers, all these terms plus a thousand more like them have been repeated for as long as we can remember and beyond our memory. Migrants have been described as the root of most problems that face us. Just ask ex-governor Pete Wilson or ex-mayor Susan Golding who once stated that migrants are the root of our crime problems. The beatings, killings, the terrorizing of migrants are something that we have witnessed too many times in the past. Yet there has never been any accountability for these actions.
Ask yourself, if this were eight Hispanic boys attacking some white men, what would have been the outcome been?
Yes these boys were put on trial and sentenced. But what should haven been on trial were the societal attitudes that fostered the idea in these kid’s minds that their actions were okay, and that there was support, real or perceived, for their actions.
Until these attitudes are changed, little else will change.