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defending the First Amendment against the Christian right ...

Jews On First!

... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind

October 24, 2007: One hate-crime defendant appears in court as reports link Slavic Christians' anti-gay violence to international hate group, Watchmen on the Wall.

Sacramento authorities charge two men in killing of Satender Singh

by JewsOnFirst.org, August 8, 2007

The Sacramento District Attorney has charged two men involved in last month's fatal assault on Satender Singh. One of the suspects faces a manslaughter charge and both are charged with committing a hate crime, confirming witness accounts that the assault was motivated by hatred of gays.

Singh (pictured here), an East Indian immigrant from Fiji, was 26 when he was felled in the unprovoked attack.

As local community leaders had anticipated, the alleged perpetrators are from the Sacramento area's Slavic immigrant community which has become identified with militantly anti-gay Christian fundamentalism, although it is not yet known whether they themselves are affiliated with a church or organization that has been involved in intimidating demonstrations against gays and lesbians.

JewsOnFirst reported on Satender Singh's death last month and on intimidation of Sacramento's LGBT community by conservative Slavic Christians last year.

Andrey Vusik, who threw the fatal punch fled to the former Soviet Union soon after he felled Singh at a public picnic area on July 1st, according to the Sacramento Sheriff's Department. The Sacramento District Attorney has charged Vusik with involuntary manslaughter.

Manslaughter charges explained
District Attorney Jan Scully explained in a statement issued yesterday that Vusik is charged with manslaughter rather than murder because "the evidence does not show he had any intent to actually kill Satender Singh, and the act he committed (a single punch with a fist), while violent, does not demonstrate a willful and conscious disregard for human life at the level necessary to prove malice."

The second defendant, Aleksandr Schevchenko, is charged with committing a hate crime and was scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon.

The scenario Scully described in her statement closely follows earlier reports about the circumstances of the assault.

Satender Singh was part of a group Fijian East Indian men and women who spent the day at Lake Natoma Park. Vusik and Shevchenko were part of a separate group that also spent the day at the park, near the Fijian East Indian group. The group with Vusik and Shevchenko believed they saw Singh behaving in a homosexual manner towards other male members of the Fijian East Indian group. During the course of the day, Vusik and Shevchenko made racial and ethnic slurs directed at the Fijian group, and homosexual slurs directed at Singh.

Around 8:00 p.m., Singh’s group prepared to leave the park. Vusik and Schevchenko approached Singh’s group, which was sitting at a picnic table. They demanded an apology from Singh, which Singh refused to give. Vusik then threw a cup of beer into the face of a member of Singh’s group, and threw one punch at Singh, hitting him in the face. Singh fell over backwards, hitting his head on a concrete walkway. Vusik and Shevchenko ran from the scene. Singh suffered a brain injury and was pronounced dead on July 5.

If convicted, Vusik could get eight years in prison; Shevchenko, whose bail is reportedly set at $25,000, could get three years.

Neither man has any prior arrests, according to a spokesman for the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, Sgt. Tim Curran.

Schevchenko is pictured on the left, Vusik on the right

Uncertain prospects for extradition
Despite reports that local authorities have spoken with Vusik, Curran said they were "no nearer to arresting him."

Vusik's exact whereabouts in the former Soviet Union are not known, Curran told JewsOnFirst. Some countries of the defunct superpower have extradition treaties with the United States and some do not, Curran said, confirming a report that the county has asked the FBI to assist in apprehending Vusik.

JewsOnFirst was told by knowledgeable sources in Sacramento that Vusik is believed to be in Russia or Ukraine. One of the sources said Vusik fled the country out of fear after early media reports suggested that the sentence for killing Singh could be 25 years.

Gay and lesbian communities encouraged
Sacramento's LGBT community and their supporters are encouraged by the identification of the suspects and the apprehension of Schevchenko.

Dr. Darrick Lawson, president emeritus of the Stonewall Democrats of Greater Sacramento who spoke with JewsOnFirst last month about the charged situation created by the militant Slavic evangelical Christians, said today, "We're very happy with the conclusion" of the investigation.

"For people who do activist work," continued Lawson, "this is the kind of experience that makes it all worth it."

Lawson also said that, as a result of Singh's killing and the investigation, the Sheriff's and District Attorney's offices have made commitments to take a more active role with the Slavic militants, "to calm their activity down."

He said he hopes the intervention will have some effect on the Slavic militants' behavior at the upcoming gay and lesbian film festival.

Stella Levy, who wrote a column posted as part of last month's report, also welcomed the week's developments. "It's good for the Singh family, and hopeful," she said.

However, Levy said, she still has questions about "whether the perpetrators were tied to the Slavic evangelical Christian movement" that has been harassing the LGBT community.

Unanswered questions about suspects' affiliations
Levy said she had found a clue pointing to affiliation in today's Sacramento Bee's interview with Andrey Vusik's wife, who told a story of events at Lake Natomas that differs markedly with that set out by the District Attorney.

In the interview, Tatyana Vusik insisted that Singh provoked her husband, and that he acted in self defense. (She also said that he went abroad to conduct his business of exporting cars and that she talks with him regularly.)

What caught Levy's eye, was Tatyana Vusik's justification for Andrey's approach to Singh and his group: Vusik said she saw Singh and his friends dancing "provocatively" and two men kissing. Then she stated, as if it explained everything: "We are a Christian family."

Said Levy: "She made that point, that 'we are a Christian family.' It's a fair guess that they are affiliated with the Slavic evangelical Christian movement."

Sgt. Curran said the Sheriff's Department has not been able to determine whether Vusik or Schevchenko are involved with anti-gay churches or groups.

He also could not say whether the Singh killing and stepped-up interaction with the Sheriff's department has subdued the Slavic anti-gay activist groups. He said he believed they were quieter at this year's Youth Day of Silence -- held before the fatal assault on Singh -- than in 2006.

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Sacramento District Attorney announces charges in death of Satender Singh

News release from Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully, August 7, 2007

District Attorney Jan Scully announced today the filing of charges relating to the death of Satender Singh, following an assault on July 1 at Lake Natoma Park. Andrey Vusik is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Singh, and with committing a hate crime. Alex Shevchenko is charged with committing a hate crime. A hate crime occurs when a defendant commits a crime against another person, or acts to interfere with the victim’s rights, because the offender believes the victim is of a particular race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

Satender Singh was part of a group Fijian East Indian men and women who spent the day at Lake Natoma Park. Vusik and Shevchenko were part of a separate group that also spent the day at the park, near the Fijian East Indian group. The group with Vusik and Shevchenko believed they saw Singh behaving in a homosexual manner towards other male members of the Fijian East Indian group. During the course of the day, Vusik and Shevchenko made racial and ethnic slurs directed at the Fijian group, and homosexual slurs directed at Singh. Continue reading this PDF document.

Suspect Arrested In Satendar Singh Case

Sacramento County Sheriff's Department News Release, August 7, 2007

On July 1, 2007, 25-year-old Satendar Singh was involved in an altercation at Lake Natoma State Park. On July 5, 2007, Satendar died as a result of the injuries he suffered from the altercation. Continue.

Hate-crime trial hears of slurs before Lake Natoma killing
Witness tells of slurs by hate-crime defendant at fatal Lake Natoma outing.

By Crystal Carreon, Sacramento Bee, May 28, 2008

Satender Singh was seen playfully dancing with men and women at a summer picnic last July, bobbing his shoulders up and down to Hindi music in a video played Tuesday in a Sacramento courtroom, where attorneys began arguing over what led to the Fijian man's death – and whether a young Slavic man should answer.

As the video played, Aleksandr Shevchenko at times put his hand to his mouth. He did not look once at the jury of five men and seven women closely following the footage in the courtroom. Continue.

Prime suspect in hate crime is outside U.S.
Second man is held in death of reported target of anti-gay slurs.

Crystal Carreon and Dorothy Korber, The Sacramento Bee, August 8, 2007

The prime suspect in a deadly assault that outraged Sacramento's gay community has fled to Russia, Sacramento County sheriff's investigators said Tuesday.

Another suspect in the July death of Satender Singh, which authorities are calling a hate crime, is scheduled to make his first court appearance today on charges connected to the incident.

The naming Tuesday of Andrey Vusik, 29, of West Sacramento, who is out of the country, and Aleksandr Shevchenko, 21, of Sacramento marked a major step forward in the explosive case, said Sheriff John McGinness. Continue.

FBI aids suspect hunt
Second man in Singh beating goes to court, posts bail

By Crystal Carreon and Dorothy Korber, The Sacramento Bee, August 8, 2007

The man accused of throwing the punch that killed Satender Singh remained at large Wednesday, while FBI agents pursued him in eastern Europe and his mother insisted he will return to Sacramento on his own.

The fugitive is 29-year-old Andrey Vusik of West Sacramento, who faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and committing a hate crime. The hate crime charge stems from allegations Vusik taunted Singh with homosexual and ethnic slurs on July 1, during an altercation on the shore of Lake Natoma.

Another suspect in the case appeared in Sacramento Superior Court on Wednesday afternoon, only to have his arraignment postponed. By Wednesday evening Aleksandr Shevchenko, 21, posted bail, was released and ordered to return for another court appearance on Aug. 22. Continue.

Fatal attack leaves much unanswered

Marcos Breton, The Sacramento Bee, August 15, 2007

We don't know the whole story.

That's what happens when the suspect in a killing runs away, and when one side of a horrible story remains murky.

It morphs into what we have in Sacramento now: A manhunt in which the FBI is helping local authorities chase a suspect abroad, while ugliness festers back home. Continue.

Slavic Christian hate groups coalesce into Watchmen on the Wall, an international organization as hate crime defendant appears in court

These links were added in late October 2007

The Latvian Connection
West Coast Anti-Gay Movement on the March

Casey Sanchez, Intelligence Report, Southern Poverty Law Center, Fall 2007

Sacramento, Calif. — On the first day of July, Satender Singh was gay-bashed to death. The 26-year-old Fijian of Indian descent was enjoying a holiday weekend outing at Lake Natoma with three married Indian couples around his age. Singh was delicate and dateless — two facts that did not go unnoticed by a party of Russian-speaking immigrants two picnic tables away.

According to multiple witnesses, the men began loudly harassing Singh and his friends, calling them "7-Eleven workers" and "Sodomites." The Slavic men bragged about belonging to a Russian evangelical church and told Singh that he should go to a "good church" like theirs. According to Singh's friends, the harassers sent their wives and children home, then used their cell phones to summon several more Slavic men. The members of Singh's party, which included a woman six months pregnant, became afraid and tried to leave. But the Russian-speaking men blocked them with their bodies. Continue.

Who Watches the Watchmen

David Neiwert, Campaign for America's Future, October 22, 2007

There's been a flood of movement conservatives accusing liberals of being Nazis lately, most recently Debbie Schlussel and Michael Savage. Most of it has been barely concealed projection. We can hardly wait, of course, for Jonah Goldberg's contribution to the meme, though it looks we may be waiting awhile. Newspeak can be tricky, after all.

But the most striking use of the "liberal Nazis" meme I've yet heard -- striking, that is, for the Bizzaro World inversion of reality it reflected -- came this weekend from Vlad Kusakin, the Sacramento-based editor of a Russian-language newspaper called The Speaker. Kusakin went on a rant about the "liberal media" and the 120 or so people gathered in protest outside the convention hall in Lynnwood, Wash., where he was speaking to a group calling itself the Watchmen on the Walls.

Describing the gay-bashing murder this summer of a young Sacramento man named Satender Singh by a thuggish clutch of young Russian immigrants, Kusakin said through an interpreter: "To our sorrow, this incident is used to suppress Christians. This reminds me of Nazi Germany." Then he went on to compare the Singh murder to the burning to the Reichstag in 1933. Continue.

Man in hate-crime case appears in court

Crystal Carreon, The Sacramento Bee, October 18, 2007

Before a courthouse hearing Wednesday, a young Sacramento man charged in the hate-crime killing of Satender Singh last summer found himself seated squarely among rows of the Fijian man's supporters and community groups who want to see that justice is served.

Aleksandr Shevchenko, 21, examined his fingernails, kept his hands folded in his lap and politely deflected questions in those moments before he was called by Sacramento Superior Court Judge David De Alba and allowed to stand by his attorney, David Henderson.

Shevchenko, who had earlier pleaded not guilty to a felony count of intimidating and interfering with a person's rights – a hate crime – was scheduled to return to court Nov. 13 to hear motions. Wednesday's hearing was to schedule a preliminary hearing for Nov. 27. Continue.