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Community advocates appalled at handling of Black teen's stabbing in Lakeside

The stabbing of a 16-year-old Black girl in Lakeside has left the community outraged about the way the case is being handled by the district attorney and law enforcement. Many are saying this is because the teenage boy who stabbed her is white. KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado has new details.

"She's traumatized, you know?"

Community advocate Tasha Williamson describes the emotional state of a teenage Black girl stabbed last weekend.

"She’s not in school, she’s in pain, she’s healing, this is a trauma she’s had to deal with; racialized trauma being called the 'n-word'," she said.


A 16-year-old white boy is accused of stabbing the girl and hurling racial epithets at the girl and her family. Williamson said the family is in hiding because they believe those involved have ties to a white supremacist gang.

"Lakeside Gangsters is a well-known heinous gang that has committed atrocities in Lakeside and around Lakeside," she said. "(The family) fear for their lives."

Williamson and others say they are still in disbelief that in 2022 a Black girl could be verbally assaulted with racial slurs and stabbed by a white teenager, who investigators say was accompanied by adults including his father. Only the boy is facing charges, including attempted murder and committing a hate crime.

"We think that this is appalling, that this district attorney would call (the boy's father) a bystander when they walked out of their home with these weapons, when they walked down the path, the walkway with these weapons with these adults," Williamson said. "They are not bystanders. They are complicit."

At a town hall meeting this week, a representative from the District Attorney's Office said they could not prosecute a parent for standing by. Williamson said that sent the wrong message.


"I think that the D.A., if she’s not going to arrest his father, then she needs to free every bystander that she locked up in prison and threw away the key," she said.

On Thursday, District Attorney Summer Stephan announced the teen was being charged with a hate crime and said her office will move forward with an investigation and will hold everyone responsible accountable.

"The turnaround is because of outcry. I think that if the public was not pushing for justice that this father would have no eyes on him," Williamson said. "I think these two other adults would have no eyes on them, but let’s not forget that 186.5 was used to sweep up tons of gang members for crimes they did not commit."

Williamson was referring to California Penal Code 186.22, the California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act, which allows prosecutors to add other chargers for gang members related to a crime.

She also blames the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and wants the Department of Justice to also look into the Lakeside substation.

"The trust is broken. The Black community is not trusting of law enforcement," Williamson said. "We believe that the Lakeside substation has officers that are biased, maybe even racist. We believe that this is an unacceptable excuse for a botched investigation."

Civil rights attorney Dan Gilleon also agreed that public outcry changed the District Attorney's message.

"Originally the D.A. was sending a signal to the community once again that we’re not going to prosecute hate crimes and that is a problem," said Gilleon, who said often a D.A. won’t charge people or add hate crimes because it makes it tougher to win cases. "By not charging cases like this they are sending a signal that, 'Yeah it might be illegal but we’re not going to charge it because it’s too hard we don’t want to lose.'"

But once the community spoke out, Gilleon said, things changed.

"And that’s why we see the reversal is that, 'Oh, OK. Well, now the community is actually watching what we’re saying and is outraged now. Let's send this opposite signal now,'" he said. "The problem is that’s kind of a political mess and there is a big problem by the way because D.A.s are politicians."

"This is a classic example of an unequal application of the law, and if races were reversed we would see a completely different outcome and this is just another example," said Genevieve Jones-Wright, founder and director with Community Advocates for Just and Moral Governance. She's a former public defender and one-time district attorney candidate.

Jones-Wright said statements and lack of action by law enforcement and the D.A.'s office, in this case, create more issues in communities of color.

"How many people suffer in silence? How many people never come forward to report victims of hate crimes? When you don’t prosecute you will have community members being unwilling to report incidents of hate crimes," she said. "You will have community members unwilling to put themselves out there because there is no support of them. They don’t get victim assistance, they don’t get relocated, they don’t get protection. They get more retaliation. People live in fear."

The Lakeside Sheriff's Department Substation did not respond to requests for comment. The District Attorney’s office declined an interview.

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