How far has Los Angeles County really come, since the mid-century school desegration and the 1992 L.A. Riots? For a black man living with his white roommates in the affluent Santa Clarita suburb of Saugus, a hate crime outside their home in the 20700 block of Satinwood Drive on Saturday night was a hideous blast from the past.
According to the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, the victim, Anthony Bedgood, heard noises coming from outside the house at about 1 a.m. (technically Sunday). When he looked outside, the scene was surreal:
His 2009 Scion had been set ablaze, and the tires on another household vehicle, a 2005 GMC Yukon, had been slashed flat. In addition, the hood of the Yukon was marked with a "religiously derogatory symbol" and the garage door was sprayed with a "racial epithet."
The former was a five-pointed star inside a circle, or pentagram -- an ancient Catholic sign for the five wounds of Jesus that has since evolved to symbolize the footprint of the devil.
The KTLA report:
"It was disturbing, you know?" Bedgood says in the video. "It was something out of a nightmare. You're just waiting to wake up. It's a surreal moment."
A recent UCLA study showed that black-white segregation in Los Angeles County runs almost as rampant as it did 30 years ago. And still, "though the differences in schools and neighborhoods one or two freeway exits apart are often shocking," stated study co-author Gary Orfield, "There is almost no public discussion of segregation in Southern California."
Santa Clarita is one of the county's whitest cities, at only 2 percent black -- and one of its wealthiest, with an average income of about $80,000. (This New York Times demographics map from 2009 makes the disparity painfully clear.) But money doesn't equal morality, if last weekend's fiery spectacle was any indication.
Sheriff's investigators have determined that the graffiti/arson in Santa Clarita was a hate crime against the black resident, but so far have no leads on a suspect. Anyone with additional information is urged to call Sheriff's Arson Explosives Detective Larry Lewis at 323-881-7500.
We'll update with more details as soon as they're available.