LOS ANGELES: The Cheryl Green case ends

The last defendant in the killing of Cheryl Green, the 14-year-old black girl gunned down by Latino street gang members, was sentenced today to 238 years to life in prison.

Ernesto Alcarez, now 25, had been convicted last month. He was the lookout that after on December 15, 2006 when 204th Street gang member Jonathan Fajardo, pictured here, went looking for blacks to shoot and found Green and some friends talking on a street nearby.

The case was one of the most remarkable of my career. First, it showed how Latino street gangs had become the region’s foremost race-hate criminals, much of this stemming from orders from the Mexican Mafia in prison, and the general apartheid culture that reins in the institutions, which had by 2006 made its way out onto the street and was causing great havoc.

The killing of Green, followed by the slaying of Christopher Ash, a 204th Street associated whom the gang believed to be an informant, left a trail of pointless destruction. Two families had loved ones killed. Five families have loved ones doing life in prison.

Amazingly, Alcarez and Fajardo barely knew each other when Fajardo set out that day, with Alcarez has his somewhat reluctant lookout.The way a gang member explained it to me, Alcarez was a kind of wannabe member of 204th Street whose commitment the gang wanted to test by sending him along with Fajardo, a dedicated 204th Streeter and serious methamphetamine user.

Their fate was entwined forever when Fajardo opened fire, killing Green.

Alcarez’s mother once told me that she’d moved from the neighborhood to get her son away from 204th Street, but he kept returning. A story like so many others I’ve heard, speaking to the brainwashing that goes on in many of these street gangs.

Strangely, Fajardo was himself half black, though he identified as a Latino. He’s now on Death Row.

I wrote a story of how the Harbor Gateway area Cheryl Green had grown up in had been changed by lenient zoning laws from a single-family neighborhood into one crammed with apartment buildings that led to the problems of race it experienced beginning in the late 1990s. The story was also about the hollowing out of the LA economy, and the departure of union jobs that had held neighborhoods like the Gateway together for so long.

Gretchen Ford, the prosecutor in the case, prosecuted five defendants in three separate trials, one of them a death penalty case for the shooter, Jonathan Fajardo. A tip of my hat to her.

It feels like the end of an era, she told me the day Alcarez was sentenced. I bet. Feels that way to me, too.

Photos: Cheryl Green and Jonathan Fajardo






Filed under Gangs, Los Angeles, Prison

4 Responses to LOS ANGELES: The Cheryl Green case ends

  1. Meg

    Most of these crimes, however, are gang related. General hate toward another race is not the primary motive. Drug territory is. When the pro-Aztlan type political groups start targeting blacks, let me know. As it stands their primary adversaries are white. In fact, I don’t think any of the Aztlan political organizations, even the most extreme of them, target blacks in any way. The Mexican Mafia and the Surenos target blacks for drug territory. At least that’s where the money trail leads me. If the EME and Surenos didn’t deal in the drug trade, I might be more open to the idea that they’re as much a hate group as they are a street gang or prison gang. But even if that were the case, considering how many members there are, wouldn’t we have to believe the Latino on black murders would be much higher? Seems the EME could commit a massacre on blacks if they wanted to, considering LA’s gang demographics. Looking at it from that perspective, the problem seems rather mild. In fact, it indicates that it’s all gang biz as usual.

    • samquinones

      Business, it’s true, is the operating motivation, but things quickly seem to spiral into something else on the street. In many areas, what may have begun as a business territory move became intensely racist very soon. The Florence area, for example. San Bernardino’s West Side Verdugo in the 1990s is another. Pacoima, another.

      In other areas, the business issue was never foremost. For Azusa 13, for example, according to people I’ve spoken with from that gang, there was just a fear of blacks moving into the area; there was also a fear of how the gang would be perceived in jail and prison if it was known they were not doing anything about it. So for a while, Azusa 13 went “hunting” blacks. That was the term used in court.

      The effect in both cases, however, is that people of one race have lived in fear, curtailed daily activity, not traveled on certain streets, or visited certain parks, all because a gang of another race has a mission to get rid of them. So whatever the initial motivation, the effect was racist.

      I should add, though, that these attacks have dwindled in recent years, as many Latino gangs have become less visible, taking it indoors. You don’t see as much graffiti, as much hanging out at the liquor store or park — much of this, I presume, due to gang injunctions, federal RICO indictments and the like.

  2. Geoff

    “First, it showed how Latino street gangs had become the region’s foremost race-hate criminals”

    Don’t know if I agree with this. Here’s the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of documented hate groups in the Los Angeles region:

    American Patrol/Voice of Citizens Together (Anti-Immigrant) Sherman Oaks
    American Third Position (White Nationalist) Westminster
    As-Sabiqun (General Hate) Los Angeles
    Bare Naked Islam (Anti-Muslim) Marina Del Rey
    California Coalition for Immigration Reform (Anti-Immigrant) Huntington Beach
    Chick Publications (General Hate) Ontario
    Concerned American Citizens (Anti-Muslim) Wildomar
    Crusaders for Yahweh (Christian Identity) Alta Loma
    Escaping Islam (Anti-Muslim) Wildomar
    Get Some 88 (Racist Music) Castaic
    Institute for Historical Review (Holocaust Denial) Fountain Valley
    Institute for Historical Review Store (Holocaust Denial) Newport Beach
    Jewish Defense League (General Hate) Los Angeles
    Jihad Watch (Anti-Muslim) Sherman Oaks
    Nation of Islam (Black Separatist) Los Angeles
    National Alliance (Neo-Nazi) Los Angeles
    National Socialist American Labor Party (Neo-Nazi) Burbank
    Noontide Press (Holocaust Denial) Newport Beach
    Official Street Preachers (General Hate) Los Angeles
    OMNI Christian Book Club (Radical Traditional Catholicism) Palmdale
    Save Our State (Anti-Immigrant) San Bernardino
    Tony Alamo Christian Ministries (General Hate) Canyon Country
    Tradition in Action (Radical Traditional Catholicism) Los Angeles
    Traditional Values Coalition (Anti-Gay) Anaheim
    Voice of Reason Broadcast Network (White Nationalist) Pasadena
    Voz de Aztlan (General Hate) Whittier


    • samquinones

      Those groups together don’t come close to the number and, particularly, the violence of crimes committed by Latino street gangs against African-Americans in the last 10-15 years in various parts of Southern California: Azusa, Pomona, Glassell Park, Florencia, Hawaiian Gardens, Pacoima, San Bernardino, Canoga Park, Oxnard, Wilmington, etc etc.

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