Racial and Ethnic Inequality

Social Problems in the News

“Anger, Shock over Cross Burning in Calif. Community,” the headline said. This cross burning took place next to a black woman’s home in Arroyo Grande, California, a small, wealthy town about 170 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The eleven-foot cross had recently been stolen from a nearby church.

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This hate crime shocked residents and led a group of local ministers to issue a public statement that said in part, “Burning crosses, swastikas on synagogue walls, hateful words on mosque doors are not pranks. They are hate crimes meant to frighten and intimidate.” The head of the group added, “We live in a beautiful area, but it’s only beautiful if every single person feels safe conducting their lives and living here.”

Four people were arrested four months later for allegedly burning the cross and charged with arson, hate crime, terrorism, and conspiracy. Arroyo Grande’s mayor applauded the arrests and said in a statement, “Despite the fact that our city was shaken by this crime, it did provide an opportunity for us to become better educated on matters relating to diversity.”

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