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Gang member sentenced for firebombing Black families’ homes

March 23, 2021 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A leader of a Latino street gang was sentenced Tuesday to 16 years in prison for firebombing the homes of Black families to force them out of a Los Angeles housing project in 2014.

Carlos Hernandez, 36, admitted he planned the attack at Ramona Gardens, a mainly Latino public-housing complex in the Boyle Heights neighborhood, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Hernandez and seven other members of the Big Hazard gang hurled Molotov cocktails into four apartments where most of the residents — including 10 children — were sleeping, prosecutors said. Hernandez pleaded guilty in 2019 to five federal crimes including conspiracy to violate the Black residents’ civil rights.

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U.S. District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder said during the sentencing hearing that she wanted to send a message that racial violence would not be accepted, the Times reported.

Prosecutors said while orchestrating the assault, Hernandez used a racial slur as he told fellow gang members that the firebombings would drive the Black residents out of the project.

The seven other participants in the firebombing also have pleaded guilty to federal hate crimes and related offenses.

Since 2016, Hernandez has been serving a 17-year sentence on a state conviction for an armed robbery. Snyder ruled that he could serve his federal prison sentence concurrently, the newspaper reported.