A young black woman who recently moved to Los Angeles to seek her fortune as a cartoonist was attacked by two Latino youths who shouted racial epithets and pummeled her with their fists as Canoga Park neighbors watched in silence, police and the victim said Friday.
The 26-year-old artist, who asked that her name be withheld, was treated at Humana Hospital-West Hills and released Friday as police searched for her attackers. Los Angeles Police Detective Fred Duitsman said investigators believed they had identified at least one youth involved in the racial assault, the 14th such assault reported so far this year in the San Fernando Valley.
“I’m just a cartoonist and a writer. I’m just trying to help people laugh and feel good. I don’t bother anyone,” said the woman, who left Fresno about a month ago to join her older sister in Canoga Park.
She said, “There’s a lot of violence everywhere and this isn’t going to stop me.”
The woman was walking her pair of cocker spaniels in the 6900 block of Remmet Avenue about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday when she noticed a group of about 10 teen-agers across the street, in front of the Guadalupe Center for youths. One boy in the group shouted two racial slurs at her. But she tried to ignore him and kept walking, the woman recalled Friday.
Then one of her dogs slowed down, as if sensing someone was nearby, and she started to look behind her. Before she turned around completely, one teen-ager came from behind and hit her in the face, knocking her into a mailbox and then onto the ground, the woman said. A second youth joined the first in hitting and kicking the woman on the face and back, all the while calling her racially derogatory names as she pleaded to be let go.
“I started saying, ‘Please.’ I felt like I was going to pass out,” the woman recalled. “They said, ‘Yeah, you better say please.’ ”
Another black resident of the street who was walking outside at the time said one of the two youths started to chase her. But she outran him and flagged down a passing car. The headlights apparently startled the attackers, who fled with their friends.
The woman walked back to her sister’s house nearby and called police.
“I was raised in Watts,” said the other resident, a woman who also asked not to be named, “and I’ve never experienced anything like this.”
Several neighbors were sitting on their front steps or standing in their yards during the attack but none intervened, both women said.
One man held the dogs during the attack. Afterward, he returned the animals to the woman and asked her if she was all right, the victim recalled. But neither he nor others in the street tried to stop the attack, she said.
“He never even said, ‘Hey, get off that girl or leave that girl alone,’ ” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. As I got up and was walking down toward the house, they were all watching. And then they just asked me if I was all right. But they actually watched the whole attack. I just said, ‘Yes,’ and ‘Thank you.’ ”
Jesse Hernandez, a volunteer at the youth center, said he could recall no other racial incidents in the predominantly Latino neighborhood. He added that black and Latino youths often play basketball together at the center without incident.
The victim said Friday that her sister, 29, has had no problems in the months she has lived there. She added that she has no immediate plans to return to Fresno or move.