LOS ANGELES — An African American police officer and his family said they fled their upscale Orange County, Calif., community after rocks were thrown through their windows, their tires were slashed and racial taunts were shouted by passing motorists. Last month, someone shot corrosive acid pellets into his garage, which damaged his car.
The family, who asked that they not be identified out of fear for their safety, said they packed up and moved from Yorba Linda to Corona, Calif., and reported the alleged hate crimes to the Orange County Human Relations Commission.
Though African Americans account for a small fraction of Orange County’s population – no more than 2 percent – they are the most frequently targeted group for hate crimes, said Rusty Kennedy, the executive director of the commission.
“It just illustrates that even amid our really wonderful community, life is different for some people,” said Rusty Kennedy, the executive director of the commission.
The father is a police officer in Inglewood. His wife is a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy. They and their two children moved to Yorba Linda in 2011.
In Yorba Linda, a city of 65,000, African Americans make up a scant 1 percent of the population, according to census statistics. The city’s mayor, Mark Schwing, did not return a request for comment. Neither did the city’s Police Department.
The commission wrote to the family – addressed in the letter simply as “Former Yorba Linda Family” — to denounce the hostility and ugliness they had faced.
“As much as some are tired of hearing about discrimination and bigotry and would like to declare this a post-racial society, our commission finds that the facts don’t support that conclusion,” wrote Carol Turpen, the chair of the commission.
She ended the letter with a pledge: “We are committed to wipe out hate within the O.C.”
After the family talked about the incident, the college-age son said that when he rode his bike to his job at a nearby Home Depot, he was taunted with racial epithets by passing motorists and told to go back home.
“We wanted people to know that it’s not peachy keen in Yorba Linda when it comes to racism,” the father said.