A petition addressed to Marin County District Attorney Lori Frugoli demands that she prosecute a 19-year-old Livermore man who posted swastika stickers in downtown Fairfax in late November. Frugoli recently issued a statement declining to press charges against the man, claiming there was “insufficient evidence.”
A brave San Anselmo resident, Noah Mohan, 21, followed the Nazi supporter, confronted him and recorded the encounter. Mohan caught him red-handed with the stickers.
Frugoli received a gift she’s refusing to accept: sufficient evidence.
Perhaps she thinks a crime wasn’t committed when the man placed stickers bearing a swastika and the words “we are everywhere” on public and private property. Surely, she could make a case for California Penal Code 11411:
“Any person who places or displays a sign, mark, symbol, emblem, or other physical impression, including, but not limited to, a Nazi swastika, on the private property of another, without authorization, for the purpose of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property or in reckless disregard of the risk of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property shall be punished …”
The rest of the code provides the penalties, which could include a fine and/or imprisonment.
Or Frugoli could prosecute under Penal Code 594, which refers to malicious mischief. Heck, she’s the DA. It’s her job to figure it out. She shouldn’t just give up.
“Frugoli does our Marin community and Noah Mohan a huge disservice by deciding there is insufficient evidence to charge this person,” the petition says. “If there is doubt, let the jury weigh in.”
The petition’s author, Mark Solomons, felt violated and upset when he heard about the swastikas posted in his town. He felt violated again after the DA refused to prosecute.
“When Frugoli says not enough evidence, what is enough evidence?” Solomons said. “Why doesn’t it meet the hate crime standards?”
These are excellent questions and I posed them to the DA.
“There are no new developments or comments on the case,” Frugoli said in an email. “The statute of limitations has not yet expired in this matter and should any new information come to light we would reevaluate the case, as we do in all cases where we receive information after an initial filing decision has occurred.”
I’m not sure what other information needs to surface. Mohan supplied a nine minute and 44 second video of the man, in which he admitted to subscribing to Nazi ideology and proudly displayed a roll of swastika stickers. Those same stickers were found on poles, trash receptacles, electrical boxes and on top of a BLM sign at Peri’s Bar.
Solomons and more than 690 petition signers want the suspect held accountable. He doesn’t even necessarily need to serve time. Another option is restorative justice, which seeks to repair the damage caused by a crime.
“He could sit in a room with people who have survived the holocaust or the children of survivors,” Solomons said.
With restorative justice, the parties involved decide together how to bring about resolution. Hopefully, the criminal is transformed by the process and the victims begin to heal. But the DA’s office needs to sign on.
“Restorative justice requires a cooperative effort by communities and the government,” according to the Centre for Justice & Reconciliation.
It’s worth the effort. A seven-year study in the United Kingdom found that 85% of victims feel satisfied with the outcome of restorative justice and it is more effective in reducing recidivism than incarceration.
Instead, Frugoli scheduled a forum with community leaders to help stop hate crimes and hateful behavior. That’s a lovely, but empty gesture. The only people who will attend the forum are already on board.
“Frugoli is tone deaf,” Solomons said.
Hopefully, the petition restores her hearing. Until a hate crime perpetrator is prosecuted under the hate crime statutes, Marin will continue experiencing acts of hate.