Why Wasn’t Racist Hate Crime Nature of Biker ‘Brawl’ in Ocean Beach Disclosed by San Diego Law Enforcement?

by on September 28, 2023 · 24 comments

in Civil Rights, Ocean Beach, San Diego

Now that the racist, hate-fueled attack against 3 African-American young men by a mob of local Hells Angels in OB back in early June has made national news (MSN, The Hill), several questions continue to linger.

Mainly, why weren’t the racist and hate crime elements of this vicious incident disclosed by law enforcement, the police or the press?

During the Monday, Sept 25 news conference splash announcing the indictments against 17 Hells Angels members and supporters, District Attorney Summer Stephan made this statement:

“In San Diego County, we cannot and will not tolerate violence and racism of any nature, much less crimes like this hateful, vicious and unprovoked attack.”

And San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit also stated:

“These disgusting hate-driven attacks have no place in our community. There is no stronger way to condemn this violence than to hold the perpetrators accountable to the fullest force of the law.”

Yet, until this press conference, the true nature of this attack had not been disclosed – that this was one of the most violent, racist hate crimes in recent San Diego history.

Three young Black men were attacked by up to 14 bikers, one was almost killed. In fact, the biker leader has been charged with attempted murder.

According to David Hernandez at the U-T:

One of the men was punched and kicked all over his body. As he tried to stand, he was sucker-punched and knocked unconscious, prosecutors said.

Another victim was beaten up and left curled up on a sidewalk. Prosecutors allege [Troy Andrew] Scholder then rolled him on his side and stabbed him in the chest. He suffered a “gaping wound” that exposed his lungs, Stephan said. “It is absolutely a miracle that he’s alive,” she said.

The stabbing victim, unaware of the extent of his injuries and “how close he was to death,” went over to help his unconscious friend, Stephan said.

At the press conference, prosecutors called it “a vicious and racially motivated attack on three Black men.” The three were called racial epithets by the bikers and told they didn’t belong in the community.

But why wasn’t it described that way, initially? In the first report of the incident written by U-T reporter Karen Kucher on June 7, it was described as a “large brawl” without a clue that it was a vicious and racist attack. A brawl was what the Rag reported, based on Kucher’s report.

If one compares the two articles in the U-T, the only difference in the details of the fight is the racial backgrounds of the victims — and now it is described as a ” racially motivated attack.”

I contacted both U-T reporters, David Hernandez and Karen Kucher, and asked them why they thought the racial and hate aspects of the story weren’t divulged initially, and both could only speculate that the original story was probably based on a watch commander’s log – which are usually brief.

But not brief enough — Kucher had plenty of other facts and details — just not the racial makeup of the victims. But how would she have known otherwise – a reporter in this situation isn’t going down to Newport Ave and try to find witnesses — but is forced to rely on police reports to base their article on.

In trying to dig further, the Rag sent out three emails, one to the DA’s office, one to the Police Department media office, and the third to Community Relations Officer David Surwilo. The emails had this inquiry:

When the story came out about the Hells Angels indictments for the crime in Ocean Beach, the racial aspect of the charges came as a surprise to many people. Can you tell me why there was no mention of this when it happened back in June of this year? It does not appear that the SDPD reported this

The DA’s office and Surwillo answered within one hour.

The DA: “Thank you for reaching out. I do not know if San Diego Police put out a news release about this incident at the time. Try checking in with Adam Sharki over at SDPD. He would know.”

Sharki is in the SDPD media department and was already emailed. As of this writing, there hasn’t been a response yet.

Surwilo responded: “I have not been involved in the investigation, but reading the news articles online from other press outlets pertaining to the city press conference states racial comments were made during the original incident. If that occurred then the incident might have qualified as a hate crime, being racially motivated.”

So, we’re still left with the nagging question – why was the truth of this attack not made public for 3 and a half months after the incident?

Was it simply an oversight? Or did the police fear more violence by friends of the victims? Or protests by BLM supporters? Or were police already building a large case against the Hells Angels and this tipped the balance and they were able then to take it to the Grand Jury for the indictments?

Take a step back for a moment. A mob attacked 3 Black men, almost killing one. It’s a racist attack, it’s a hate crime. Nearly a murder. It is the most violent and largest hate crime in the City of San Diego that was committed in a public place in living memory.

There are onlookers – all of whom are too intimidated or fearful to intervene. (But they do hand over their cellphone vids and give eye-witness accounts.)

In any other situation like this in most other major cities in the US, I cannot imagine that the racial makeup of the victims and nature of the attack would be withheld by the authorities.

Take almost any other racist attack in this country in post-BLM times that had been captured by body-cams or witness phones – and then the public is told police cannot divulge the race of the victims or perpetrators and withhold that it’s a hate-crime — for over 3 months?

Obviously, one might add, police didn’t know all the details the night of the attack and maybe not for a few days later – or weeks. But still no official pronouncement even then was made as to its true nature.

A readiness hearing is set for the defendants on Nov. 3.

Geoff Page was a contributor to this post.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

concerned citizen September 28, 2023 at 5:57 pm

“But how would she have known otherwise – a reporter in this situation isn’t going down to Newport Ave and try to find witnesses — but is forced to rely on police reports to base their article on”

strong disagree. Ain’t nobody forced her to parrot cop talk uncritically.

Furthermore, if OB RAG is merely rephrasing UT stories which are themselves just a copy of a SDPD press releases, what actual local newsgathering is being done?

oh wait. no I see. We personally reached out to the police again for comment.
I’m sure when they get back to you they’ll tell a full, unbiased truth this time. A satisfactory response is coming any day! (I’ll start holding my breath now.)

Luckily this event occurred in a vaccuum. Its not part of a larger pattern, we are not at fault and there’s absolutely nothing to be done! OB community members are free from the need to do any kind of reflecting, or make any meaningful changes. Which is great, cause empathy is such a fuckin’ chore, dig?


Frank Gormlie September 28, 2023 at 6:36 pm

Often we use U-T stories with our own comments. You should have noticed in our post on the indictments. You ask, “what actual local news gathering is being done?” and it’s a darn good question. The UT is doing less and less now that they’ve been bought by a company known for downsizing news departments. That leaves it to the TV news stations and online platforms. We at the Rag do as best as we can with our meager resources (BTW, concerned, did you contribute to the Rag’s fundraiser back in Aug?).


concerned citizen September 28, 2023 at 6:55 pm


I put my extremely limited discretionary income towards the changes I want to see in the world to make it a better place for all.

For that reason, I support a variety of independent progressive journalism sources, especially those that (more critically) investigate right-wing violence, police misconduct, the ongoing struggle for civil rights, and the effects of neoliberal economics.

my views and the views of your (current) reporters, readers, and commenters are not compatible. Our concerns are not the same.

However, when I thumb through old back issues from the 70s, I’m blown away by the quality of reporting and editorial. That’s some good stuff! How can I support THAT Ob Rag?



Frank Gormlie September 28, 2023 at 7:18 pm

Well, good for you. “That ob Rag” was published in the 1970s, my friend. A lot has changed since then … and then not a lot has changed. The former Rag had some 20 staffers, had an office, met regularly, blah blah. Also, I’d take you more seriously if you didn’t hide behind your anonymity. There’s a way you can make your true identity known to me but not to the public. Just make a new comment under a true email.


Chris September 28, 2023 at 8:35 pm

“my views and the views of your (current) reporters, readers, and commenters are not compatible. Our concerns are not the same.”

Please say your being satirical.


Geoff Page September 28, 2023 at 8:51 pm

When you wrote “OB RAG is merely rephrasing UT stories,” it was clear you missed the point entirely. The Rag story is a new story, the UT has not done a story asking why there was no mention of this being a racial crime until now, months later.

And items The Rag uses from other sources, like the UT, are to provide information or history for readers.

The only newsgathering that has been done on this is clearly described in the article. If you have any suggestions on how to get a definitive answer from anyone in city government or the police department, let’s hear it.

And finally, you wrote “OB community members are free from the need to do any kind of reflecting, or make any meaningful changes.” OB community members just heard about this and know very little about it at all, so there hasn’t been a lot of time for reflecting and making meaningful changes. But, it appears you have, so what meaningful changes do you recommend?


Chris September 28, 2023 at 8:57 pm

I have to wonder if CC is just being a virtue signaling troll more than someone truly concerned about the incident that went down.


LittleKumeyaayBoy September 28, 2023 at 9:20 pm

I agree with Concerned Citizen to a large degree. The most in depth journalistic investigations happening on the Rag now are regarding traffic circles and bike lanes. What is more m0ney from donations going to achieve if we take into account recent articles? More in depth stories of traffic circles and bike lanes? No, thank you. The aged hippie hath lost its way.

To the seemingly septuagenarians running this show, somehow you gotta get the kids (15 to 45 years old) to care. My peers all think this is a relic–a place for grandparents to quack and complain. It’s my understanding from my parents and grandparents and great grandparents that grew up here that the rag used to be quirky, but carried weight. Somehow you have to get back to your youthful roots because your audience is aging out.


Geoff Page September 28, 2023 at 9:24 pm

Then, contribute Little Boy, instead of complaining. Write something, show us what you mean.


Mateo September 29, 2023 at 6:16 am

Little Kumeyaay Boy and Concerned Citizen (paid shills),

In the words of Mark Twain, “It is better to keep your mouth shut and seem a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.”

Paid shills, most likely are staffers with California DNC, trying to peddle influence in the commentary of publications critical of “the Party”. “Concerned Citizen” works for the Mara Eliot, and one could easily venture an accurate assumption that Kumeeyay Boy is most likely on the Mayor’s dole. This is where political donations go in an attempt to misinform the public because corrupted California Dems have lost control. Their efforts are horribly veiled, feeble attempts the likes of the readers of the Rag will not buy into and the public at large has stopped buying into as well.

Our eyes are not deceiving us, the cover ups are always worse. OB Rag readers are not going to be easily mislead, and San Diegans have had it!


Frank Gormlie September 29, 2023 at 7:36 am

I’m coming around to the belief Mateo that you’re correct. LKB and CC have fake emails – in fact one of them has the words ‘San Diego Complains’ as part of their “email” address.

The Rag will be enforcing our comment policy which requires a valid email address that only Rag administrators see.


Frank Gormlie September 29, 2023 at 11:20 am

Until LKB and CC adhere to our comment policy, their comments will not be posted.


Geoff Page September 29, 2023 at 11:21 am

They was warned…


Gail Anderson September 29, 2023 at 2:45 pm



Geoff Page September 29, 2023 at 11:00 am

You need to read with a little more comprehension, Little Boy. The stories about bike lanes and traffic circles are not just stories about bike lanes and traffic circles. These stories are intended to highlight problems with city government, like doing things no one locally asked for. Try to read more carefully before spouting off. And it sounds like you need to move up to a higher peer group.

What I don’t get is why people with such a negative opinion of The Rag keep reading it and feel compelled to comment. When I let my skeptical side take over. I get suspicious. Why would people like that keep reading and commenting? They don’t read, they just look for places to denigrate. So, that means this has a purpose. Who would benefit from disparaging The Rag’s reputation? That’s easy, the people that get challenged and exposed in – The Rag.


Paul Webb September 29, 2023 at 2:04 pm

Geoff, it’s not just doing things that no one asked for, it’s doing pretty much everything without citizen/resident input or collaboration.


Geoff Page September 29, 2023 at 2:13 pm

Yep, absolutely correct, Paul.


Paul Krueger September 29, 2023 at 1:15 pm

Thanks for raising these important questions, Geoff. Really appreciate your following up on this important story.


Geoff Page September 29, 2023 at 1:17 pm

Full credit for raising this question goes to editor dude, Paul. I’m just helping out.


Gail Anderson September 29, 2023 at 2:50 pm

Those guys most likely would not have been violently attacked IF the City of SD, Council Dist. 4, and mayor had NOT removed the Injunctions on some gang members. I guess what they didn’t understand is there are WHITE gang members, and if Injunctions still had been in place against the over 400 gang members they released, if SDPD had driven by a gang of H.A., they probably would have stopped and ID’d them to check and see if they were on the Injunction list of not. Removing the Injunction tool for SDPD bit the people who wanted it removed.


Chris September 29, 2023 at 4:51 pm

I doubt that would have made any difference.


Chris September 29, 2023 at 4:52 pm

OK so I assumed this went down @ Cheswick’s but looks like maybe the Sunshine Co?


Frank Gormlie September 29, 2023 at 6:39 pm

Chris, I think you’re right. Looks probably like the Sunshine; police are hanging around the front and going inside – and there’s that bloody pile of clothes also right in front. It could have ended there, however….


Chris September 29, 2023 at 6:59 pm

Regardless of which bar, it’s an unacceptable horrific act none the less. I have fond memories of times spent in both places but Sunshine was my first OB place to hang out at in the mid 80s (and Winston’s). Sunshine can get rowdy at times but I would never expect a full on HA incident to go down, especially a racially motivated. I guess you never know.


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