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Latinos Seek Wider Probe of Hate Letter : Racism: Raza en Accion also urges the school district to begin teaching multicultural classes.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A newly formed community organization has called for an expansion of the investigation into a hate letter sent to nearly 800 Latino households in Santa Monica two months ago.

Raza en Accion, which was formed in response to the lack of progress in the investigation, is also demanding that the Santa Monica Unified School District implement a multicultural curriculum in kindergarten though 12th grade.

“We have no answers,” said Oscar de la Torre, the group’s chairman and a former student body president of Santa Monica High School. “We will not let this issue be pushed under the rug.”

Police and U.S. postal inspectors have had little success in finding who mailed nearly 800 letters on May 22 using the district’s bulk mailing permit and mailing list. The letter, under the letterhead of Samohi Assn. for the Advancement of Conservative White Americans, called Mexicans “brown animals” and said, “We’ll gas you like Hitler gassed the Jews.”

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The group asked that more police officers be assigned to the case, and that the FBI, the U.S. Office of Civil Rights, the state attorney general and the district attorney become involved in the case.

They also want written reports on the case’s progress to be provided to the public.

Lt. Barney Melekian, who heads the Santa Monica Police Department’s investigation of the matter, said as many as five officers have been assigned to the case at one time, although currently there are only two. He also said that the U.S. Postal Service has jurisdiction in the matter, and it is not likely that any other federal agencies will get involved.

A lack of leads has slowed the department’s effort, Melekian said.

“We have not received one single tip from anybody in this case,” he said. “The reality is that unless we get a break . . . there is not much more for us to do at this point.

“We don’t have a quarrel with anything that was said, but I don’t think people are aware of the difficulty in meeting legal guidelines to file an accusation against someone.”

A $2,200 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect has been posted by two homeowner groups and a local bank. Tuesday night, the City Council added another $5,000 to the reward. Melekian said anyone with information should contact police at (213) 458-8451.

The group also wants the district to implement a policy against racial harassment and to provide a statement to Latino parents explaining what steps have been taken to prevent further incidents.

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District Supt. Eugene Tucker said earlier this week that he had not seen the group’s list of demands. But he said the district has had multicultural curriculum at some grade levels for two years.

Tucker said that although the district does not have a written policy specifically dealing with racial harassment, harassment of any type is not tolerated.


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