Santa Monica lawmaker says 1991 hate-filled letter could help fight racism today

“Even though Santa Monica is seen widely as this very progressive and very liberal city, [Santa Monica City Councilman Oscar de la Torre] believes that there are many times where the white power structure will decline to share power with Latinos and will decline to actually take Latino issues, such as this hate crime, seriously,” says journalist Jean Guerrero. Photo by Brian Hardzinski/KCRW

Santa Monica has a reputation as a paradise for lefties. But the city isn’t exactly welcoming to Latinos. That’s according to Jean Guerrero, an author and journalist who wrote about a shocking racist incident in Santa Monica that happened 30 years ago. A hate-filled rant, written on Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District letterhead, was sent to nearly 800 Latino families in the city. The perpetrator was never found.

The typed, one-page letter was filled with anti-Latino slurs. A heading on it stated it was from the Association for the Advancement of Conservative White Americans. 

“It called them ‘brown animals.’ They called them ‘the most lazy and ignorant race in the world’ and many other horrible things,” Guerrero tells KCRW. “It also had numerous death threats. It said, ‘We'll gas you like Hitler gassed the Jews.’”

But Guerrero says it’s being used as a learning opportunity by Santa Monica City Councilman Oscar de la Torre. He is advocating for the creation of a hate crime prevention awareness week and wants to highlight the anti-Latino letter.