Lawsuits: Calif. Cops Failing to Protect Blacks

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Several pending lawsuits allege northern California police have not taken seriously attacks on Black teens by Latino gang members.

The racially-motivated violence resulted in the death of 14-year-old Vernon Eddins, who was shot in front of his Union City, Calif. middle school in December 2007. Eddins’ death is one incident lawyers cite in three pending lawsuits which accuse police, schools and school officials of failing to protect Black teens in the Oakland, Calif. area.

On January 27, a federal judge in the northern California district gave plaintiffs the green light to continue with a federal class action suit on behalf of 10 teens all attacked after Eddins’ death, and their families.

“Vernon was the one who fell,” said Pamela Price, an attorney representing plaintiffs in two of the suits, according to BlackAmericaWeb.com. “[But] all these children were targets.”

Although they declined to comment on the lawsuits, police said they have attempted to address concerns by reaching out to community groups and organizing a youth violence prevention program.

“Youth violence is an area-wide issue not respecting municipal boundaries,” Union City Police Capt. Kevin Finnerty said in a statement, according to BlackAmericaWeb.com.

But Price said it is obvious that their efforts have been insufficient.

“They [victims] have been discouraged from filing reports and told, ‘This is DeCoto territory,’ and that they should leave,” Price said, referring to the Hispanic gang named in connection to several shootings.