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Feds using Hate-Crime law to Prosecute LA's Biggest Gang

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In a novel way to combat gang-related crime, the Federal government is currently trying four members of the Avenues gang for conspiring to kill African Americans so as to intimidate other black families out of Highland Park. Typically prosecution comes from the city or state level, but the LA Times today reports that the Constitution is being thrown at the gang members.

Authorities are using a federal hate-crime law based on the amendment to the U.S. Constitution that outlawed slavery, and another law created in the civil rights era, to go after four gang members. Barbara Bernstein, deputy chief of the criminal section of the civil rights divisions of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, is part of the prosecution team.

The defense claims that one of the murders being discussed happened not because of hate, but because of nothing better to do, describing it as "a simple gang killing committed out of boredom." We would have loved to have sat in the jury when the defense attorney said something along the lines of "my client, a young man living in Los Angeles, simply could find nothing to do in LA. And then a gentleman who just happened to be Black crossed his path and that of the bullet from my client's gun."