No mere teen prank

Posted: Monday, March 12, 2001

The following editorial appeared in Friday's Anchorage Daily News:

Some people in Anchorage have the mistaken impression that the recent paint ball attack was just an especially odious teen prank, not a crime specifically aimed at Alaska Natives. "Maybe the teens were really picking on poor people," suggested one recent commentator.

Anyone who is inclined to discount the racial element of the crime should view the whole tape.

The ringleader announces early on, as they drive toward Anchorage from Eagle River, that they are going to "nail some Eskimos, also known as 'muktuks.' " Later footage shows they held true to that purpose. At one point, the youth with the gun declines to shoot because he thought the target was not Alaska Native.

If the paint-ballers had driven around town, shooting whomever they saw alongside the road and speeding away, it would be reprehensible and it would deserve a strong response, but it wouldn't be a hate crime.

But the tape is clear: the perpetrators specifically sought out Alaska Natives. They cruised Fourth Avenue because that is where they expected to find inebriated Alaska Natives. And when they shot, they selected targets who were Alaska Natives.

That is not merely an odious teen prank. That is a hate crime. To deny that truth is to undermine those who are working to repudiate this ugly undercurrent in our community.

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