An East County human rights advocacy group was targeted in an incident overnight.
Attacks on an East County human rights advocacy group are being investigated as a possible hate crime and could be linked to Arizona's controversial new immigration law, a victim said Thursday.
Three recent incidents spread fear at El Cajon's Center for Social Advocacy, where employees think the most recent occurrence may be a hate crime. For almost 40 years, the agency has been investigating discrimination and promoting "fair housing" laws in East County.
Staffers know their work is controversial, but said that the recent incidents are simply acceptable. El Cajon police agree and have promised to do all they can to stop the vandalism.
Center employees said a threat was delivered last week, just after dark, while a volunteer was working late.
"A gentleman came to the window with his fists and said, 'I know who your are, I know what you do, and I'm going to kill you,' " said Estella de los Rios of the Center for Social Advocacy.
Two days later, on April 29, someone spray-painted the door. On Thursday, workers arrived to find that a front window had been broken. The director's laptop was stolen as well.
"That's something we take very seriously, and we're going to use all our resources to investigate it," El Cajon Police Capt. Jim Redman said.
Police dusted for fingerprints and examined evidence on Thursday. Whoever broke the window and stole the computer, had also disabled the center's security lights. While de los Rios said she wasn't sure why her agency was being targeted, she thinks that its strong stand against discrimination -- and the aid it provides to minorities -- could be a factor.
"As you know, this Arizona issue has been a very challenging issue throughout our nation," de los Rios said.
The Anti-Defamation League is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for Thursday's incident.
"You have a right to disagree with people," said Morris Casuto of the Anti-Defamation League. "You don't have a right to intimidate and threaten them.... All of our freedoms are in danger, and therefore, this reward is being offered."
The FBI could join the investigation, based on last week's death threat.