Hecklers disrupt rally honoring rescuers in Los Angeles' shooting rampage

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Hecklers disrupt rally honoring rescuers in Los Angeles' shooting rampage

August 16, 1999
Web posted at: 7:35 AM EDT (1135 GMT)

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Hecklers disrupted the harmony of a "Unity Rally" held to honor the people who saved lives and provided comfort during last week's shootings at a Jewish community center.

Gov. Gray Davis vowed Sunday to get assault weapons off the streets. Two men immediately shouted and booed the Democrat, who last month signed laws restricting gun purchases to one per month and tightening a ban on assault weapons.

"The Second Amendment is just as important," yelled Irv Rubin of the Jewish Defense League, referring to the right to bear arms. Last weekend Rubin and thousands of others successfully blocked a parade in the nation's capital by white supremacists, including Aryan Nations members.

The men handed out fliers, which one woman tore up and threw at Rubin's feet.

"Don't leave yourself unarmed against those who want to murder you," the flier read. "Gun control laws are only observed by decent people and haters aren't decent."

Another woman stood inches from Louis' face and said, "We don't need you here," to which he replied, "I don't need you anywhere."

Davis responded by saying that, as a Vietnam War veteran, he knows the destructive power of assault weapons.

"They have a place in a theater of war, but they have no place in a civilized society," he said.

Davis, Attorney General Janet Reno and religious leaders spoke at the rally of about 500 people at California State University, Northridge, just a few miles from the site where Buford Furrow Jr. allegedly shot five people at a Jewish community center last Tuesday, then fatally shot a postal worker.

He is being held for the slaying of Joseph Ileto and the wounding of five people at the North Valley Jewish Community Center, including 5-year-old Benjamin Kadish, who remains hospitalized in serious condition.

The center was scheduled to reopen today.

Furrow turned himself in after fleeing to Las Vegas. Police found a small arsenal of weapons and ammunition in the vehicles he is suspected of using to get to and from the attacks.

Aides said Davis will likely sign legislation that would restrict cheaply made guns known as Saturday night specials and require trigger locks and warning labels on all guns sold in California.

After the rally, about 300 individuals received a certificate acknowledging their service and stating that a "Unity Garden" would be created in their honor at the center.

Residents in the suburban Los Angeles community say a moment of hate has united religious congregations.

The San Fernando Valley -- home to a large share of Los Angeles' 600,000 Jews -- is dotted with synagogues and churches. It has long been a suburban oasis of single family homes and private, religious schools.

The community has been touched by tragedy before -- the 1994 Northridge earthquake claimed dozens of lives and left thousands homeless.

"That was different. It wasn't an act of nature. This was pure evil," said Sue Ashbrook, who attends an Episcopal church. "What was he thinking? He'd make it so we didn't like them? If anything, he failed. Instead of separating us, he brought us together."

One woman attending the rally was inside the center when the shooting started and gave CPR to Kadish until paramedics arrived.

"It will help me get through this," she said, declining to give her name because she must serve as a witness and fears for her safety. "It's a really long process. This has affected me immensely."

Instead of more unity rallies, the woman said she wants "action in Congress -- legislative actions to get the guns off the street."


-- Bob (bob@bob.bob), August 16, 1999


What do we do as a society to lock up nutballs like Buford before they (try to) commit mass murder? Taking away guns isn't the answer, if he didn't have a gun, he would have just made a bomb for that daycare center, and probably succeeded in killing someone. I wish I had the answers.....

Why couldn't we stop Furrow?

by Carol M. Ostrom
Seattle Times staff reporter

Buford O. Furrow Jr. did everything but tattoo his forehead to warn those around him that he was armed and dangerous. He slashed his arms, drank himself to blackout, fantasized about killing, bragged about his weapons and spouted a venomous hatred of nonwhites.

After Furrow menaced a staffer at a mental hospital with a knife, refusing to drop it, a county sheriff's officer wrote on his file: "Do Not Release. Poses a SERIOUS (underlined) risk to self and public."

Less than 10 months later, free as a sparrow, Furrow loaded up his van with guns and drove to Los Angeles, where he opened fire on a Jewish community center, wounding five people, including three little boys, and later shot to death a Filipino-American postal worker.

Furrow's ghastly crime, like many before it, has spurred cries for more laws, tighter restrictions on guns, looser regulations for involuntary commitment and the unleashing of government agencies to monitor, infiltrate and even disrupt groups and individuals espousing hate-filled, violence-promoting philosophies.

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish activist organization, took a giant step away from civil liberties to urge more police freedom last week. It was the image of terrified children being led away from the community center, he said, that pushed him to demand that society "recalibrate the balance" between civil liberties and protection of society.

"If you don't protect life and limb," he said last week, "civil liberties don't mean much, do they?"

Foxman expounded on his view in an op-ed piece in Thursday's New York Times: The time has come to permit law enforcement not only to "get the man, but also to prevent the act."

It's a view that has considerable support, particularly from victims and their families and from members of groups who believe they have been targeted by violence.

Strong detractors

But the view also has strong detractors. Preventing an act of violence, many believe, involves restricting civil liberties that are the cornerstone of our society.

The battle has been fought many times in Seattle and in Washington state. The specifics have been different each time - involuntary treatment, police infiltration of subversive groups - but the stakes are always the same.

"Preventing" violence before it occurs, using the criminal-justice or mental-health systems, involves some restriction of liberty. And it's at this point that the American Civil Liberties Union pops up with a quote from Benjamin Franklin, that, oddly enough, seems quite applicable today:

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Well, OK. But in Franklin's time there weren't automatic weapons, plastique explosives and remote detonators.

It seems only logical that there should be laws that would catch someone like Furrow.

But would they also catch your neighbor who drinks too much on weekends and spouts off about why he wants to kill his boss? Or members of that anti-abortion group that teaches that abortionists are murderers? How about that black religious group that preaches that God hates white people?

Attempts to move the line bring up troubling questions:

How long should we lock up someone who brandishes a knife or fantasizes about killing people?

Should someone who spends his days hating people he doesn't know be labeled mentally ill?

Can we tell who is mentally ill and who is not?

Someone like Furrow brings these questions, and all our systems, into play.

Supervision lacking

It's not entirely clear how Furrow spun out of the mental-health system into the criminal-justice system. But once there, he was treated about the same as any other first-time offender who hasn't killed anyone.

He was supposed to have some monitoring that he didn't have, and maybe he didn't stay on medication like he was supposed to. As anybody who has hung out on the streets of urban areas can readily tell, the jails would soon fill if all the people who aren't taking their medication were rounded up.

More troubling to some is the group to which Furrow belonged, a white-supremacy organization whose members routinely disparage Jewish people.

Foxman, and others, argue that to prevent these kinds of acts of terrorism, the government should be given a freer hand to investigate and even infiltrate groups thought to advocate violence.

"Infiltrate," muses Foxman. "I know it's a terrible, horrendous word. But if it's to save a child's life, I'll try it."

Children were shot in front of their classmates, boys and girls who were too young to even know about the make-believe booeyman, says Foxman. The picture of police leading them from the center chilled him, he says.

Government infiltration of political groups has been tried.

In fact, Seattle was one of the first to explore the question: How far should police go when it comes to investigating groups whose politics or philosophies they find suspect?

In 1956, the Seattle Police Department was one of the first to establish a secretive "Subversive Activities Unit," notes Doug Honig, education director for the ACLU of Washington, who wrote about the unit in a book about the American Civil Liberties Union's history in Washington.

In the '60s and '70s, police photographed people marching in peace demonstrations, kept files on anti-war groups, and even kept a file on Charles Royer, then-television reporter and later elected mayor.

In response to such revelations, the Seattle City Council unanimously adopted the first ordinance in the nation prohibiting police from collecting political information unless it was directly linked to a crime suspect.

On a national level, the U.S. Attorney General's guidelines for investigation of domestic terrorism also insist that investigations must be linked to a specific crime or intent to engage in a crime.

While Foxman argues to unleash the FBI, Gregory Nojeim, legislative counsel for the ACLU's national office, argues the other side.

"They have too much room already," he says. "The guidelines set a relatively low threshold for commencing an investigation."

To lower that threshold, he argues, would be to return to the days when the FBI investigated civil-rights leaders such as Martin Luther King and musicians such as John Lennon.

"To fully understand the consequences of an FBI investigation, look no further than the investigation of Richard Jewell, the alleged Olympics bomber in Atlanta," Nojeim says. "Jewell's life was turned upside-down in that investigation, and he had done nothing wrong."

Through trial and error, we have created a line, says John LaFond, a law professor at the University of Missouri: "We don't punish or arrest people for what they think. We punish and arrest people for what they do."

How to apply law?

Sure, we could have a law that would confine someone who spews hatred and fantasizes about killing, says LaFond. But remember: It would have to apply to everyone.

"I'm not sure we want to give a constitutional license to our government to decide who is sufficiently dangerous in their thinking that they need to be arrested and confined," LaFond says.

That same philosophy guided those who wrote the civil-commitment laws in this state. They believed that society was locking away people whose behavior or ways of thinking made others uncomfortable but who were not dangerous and who should be allowed their freedom.

In fact, says LaFond, who formerly taught law at Seattle University, this state's involuntary-commitment law has struck a good balance.

Keith Hoeller, director of the Center for the Study of Psychiatry Northwest, disagrees.

It's too easy to be locked up in this state, he says, and once people enter the mental-health system, they have few protections.

Like many other mental-health professionals, Hoeller believes it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to predict violence - except by past violence. Hoeller believes there is no objective way to label someone mentally ill.

Furrow is a case in point.

Is he a man with a mental problem? Or is his problem hatred? And if it's hatred, what should we do about it?

Advocating war on whites

At Westlake Plaza in Seattle on Friday evening, a group of black men who identified themselves as members of the House of Israel used a megaphone to shout a message of hate to the crowd.

"God hates the white race - that's in the Bible," said Priest Za'ab Para, a disciple from New York City. "We advocate a race war - God advocates a race war."

No question they were talking about hate, just the way devotees of Christian Identity talk about black people being "mud," and Aryan Nations leaders wipe their feet on the Israeli flag.

In his op-ed piece, Foxman says: "Hatred can still destroy."

Should we put away everyone who hates? Send them to "re-education camps?"

Who should decide who hates enough to be confined?

In the end, even those who call for changes aren't sure what they want.

"I don't have a blueprint," Foxman concedes. "That's not what this is about. I want to stimulate a discussion."

Some of those who have taken up the challenge wonder if we're not expecting systems - mental-health or criminal-justice - to do too much.

"The moment we have a tragedy, everybody wants to pass a law," says LaFond. "They don't know what law, but they think it should have been and could have been prevented."

In this society, he argues, "the easiest thing to do is to pass a law."

But, assuming we wouldn't lock someone up forever for brandishing a knife or spewing hate, would more serious penalties or more infiltration have stopped Furrow? Or the April shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado?

"The whole notion that we're going to pass a law to prevent the Bufords of the world, the Columbines of the world, is quixotic," says LaFond. "It's not going to solve the problem."

Gun control, of course, could lessen the pressure on other systems, as well as making it less likely that those bent on violence could claim multiple victims.

But in the meantime, instead of loading more responsibility for preventing harm onto the legal and mental-health systems, LaFond suggests putting other players into the mix: church, family, friends, employers.

"We need to recognize that this is a broader responsibility for all members of the community."

-- Bob (bob@bob.bob), August 16, 1999.

Facts or phobia on guns: The choice is ours

One of the news digests I receive over the Internet reported last week: "FEWER GUNS FOUND IN SCHOOLS: Despite an outburst of horrendous and well-publicized shootings in schools, the U.S. Education Department said today the number of students expelled for bringing guns and explosives onto campuses took a sharp dip last year."

Can anyone spot the blatant bias? Focus on that word "despite." Now try reading the same item, substituting for the word "despite" the phrase "Helping to explain ..."

One more time: Nut cases only succeed in multiple killings when they can be confident their prospective victims are disarmed.

As Marilyn Henry reported for the Jerusalem Post on Thursday, under the headline "U.S. Jewish gun advocates call for self-defense":

"Aaron Zelman isn't calling for gun control after the Tuesday shooting at a Los Angeles Jewish center that wounded five people, including four children. Quite the reverse: He is aggressively pushing Jewish self-defense.

" 'The Jewish community is blind,' said Zelman, the chairman of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. `We must be able to defend ourselves against evil-doers.' ...

A Marine Corps veteran, Zelman told the Post that Israelis -- who have experienced no such terror attacks since they started arming teachers, day-care workers, and even parent volunteers -- could teach America's liberal politicians a thing or two about self-defense.

" 'I chose to move out of the city of Milwaukee and take my children out of a Jewish day school because the people who run these schools don't give a damn about security. What they call security doesn't amount to a $25 system from K-mart,' said Zelman, the father of two.

" 'I am not going to subject my children to being sitting ducks because of what I call Jewish stupidity.' "

Mr. Zelman was even more strident in a subsequent interview with the Internet publication WorldNetDaily, declaring: "It's time for the American gun owners -- Jewish and non-Jewish alike -- to take a stand together, shoulder to shoulder, and tell the 'victim disarmament' crowd that the blood is on their hands for what happened (in Los Angeles)."

" 'The JPFO is not a bunch of red neck, paranoid Jewish gun nuts,' Rabbi Reuven Mermelstein, director of the group's editorial board, told Ms. Henry of the Post.

" 'It says in our Torah, "And you must surely guard your life." I understand this injunction to mean stay out of inclement weather, eat wisely, and be armed.'

"We were, are, and will continue to be victims. If anyone attempts to arm him or herself, he or she will be in violation of the law and tried as a criminal. ... A layman's rendering of Exodus 22:1 would read, 'When you are threatened with deadly force, don't look to Me. You have been commanded to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure your own survival."

Of course, those with an irrational phobia for firearms -- the tools with which Americans won their independence and brought down Adolf Hitler -- will whine, "Turning our child care centers into armed camps will never do; fighting violence with violence is never the answer."

Really? So when the folks at the North Valley Jewish Community Center dialed 911 last week, they specified "Now, please don't send us the kind of officers who carry guns, since we believe guns never solve anything"?

Of course not. They hoped the LAPD would send the best shooters in town. We already do fight guns with guns. The only mistake we make is in believing the police will ever arrive in time to stop the nut from working his will on his victims -- the cretinous assumption necessary to embrace "gun control," which really only means "victim disarmament."

What are culture and technology good for, if we don't use them to protect the progeny to whom we hope to hand down these achievements? Yet while great Americans like Samuel Colt and John M. Browning gave us the tools we need to protect our children, our current crop of politicians make it harder and harder for that technology to be used by law-abiding citizens.

John Lott, a law professor at the University of Chicago, told WorldNetDaily last week: "The safest course of action by far for someone to take when confronted by a criminal -- whether the criminal's armed or not armed -- is to have a gun yourself."

Lott's studies -- the most detailed ever undertaken -- show women who behave passively when confronted by a criminal are 2.5 times more likely to be injured than women who actively attempt to defend themselves -- especially by pulling their own gun.

"If you look across the United States, those states with the highest gun ownership rates tend to have the lowest murder rates and lowest violent crime rates across the board," says Professor Lott. "And probably more importantly, those states that have had the biggest increases in gun ownership have had the biggest relative drops in violent crime."

Which state has the most onerous victim disarmament regulations, by the way -- now including the first statewide attempt to actually confiscate semi-automatic rifles once ruled legal?

That would be California.


-- Bob (bob@bob.bob), August 16, 1999.

It will be the ultimate irony if the gun grabbers are able to use Furrow's attack to disarm more law-abiding citizens from being able to defend themselves against such attacks. Which, of course, is exactly the sort of thing that Hitler did in order to carry out his "Final Solution" agains the Jews in Europe.

It is great that the Jewish Defense League is being proactive, and that it is making the press. For too long, the press has portrayed anyone who is for the right to keep and bear arms as a self-interested NRA member who "thinks" that gun laws might adversely hurt the "right" to hunt game, and thus does not "care" about gun misuse.

Like the JDL says: Never forget, never again.

-- Jack (jsprat@eld.et), August 16, 1999.

When the street criminals and the government criminals no longer have guns, then I'll THINK about giving up my guns that protect my family.

www.y2ksafeminnesota.com (article entitled "Firearms" on my website for anyone interested)

-- MinnesotaSmith (y2ksafeminnesota@hotmail.com), August 16, 1999.

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