Discrimination and attacks against blacks in Orange County worry officials

Courtesy Orange County Human Relations Commission

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Orange County hasn’t always been the most welcoming place for African Americans, said officials with the Orange County Human Relations Commission.

The organization received a series of complaints from a black family in Yorba Linda, said Rusty Kennedy, executive director of the commission. Someone threw rocks at their house at night, slashed the tires on their cars and taunted their two children, saying they couldn’t play with neighbor kids because of their race.

Kennedy said those actions reflect the legacy of discriminatory policies that used to be routine in Orange County.

“Clearly, in today’s community there would be no chance that a measure as reactionary as the overthrow of the Fair Housing laws would be acceptable, saying that it’s inappropriate to discriminate against someone in housing or employment based on race," said Kennedy. "But, as witnessed by this family, there are still those who have this odious motive in trying to make African Americans feel unwanted.”

For safety reasons, the commission is withholding the family’s name. It is also launching “listening sessions” that encourage African Americans to share similar experiences.

Kennedy's office has fielded 19 similar reports of discrimination against black families in Orange County so far this year – indicating a steady rise over the last two years.