FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                          CR
THURSDAY, JULY 3, 1997                             (202) 616-2777
                                               TDD (202) 514-1888

                    OF AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN

     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A federal grand jury has indicted six
Philadelphia men for violating the civil rights of an African
American woman by vandalizing the home on their block that she
had just rented.

     The 3-count indictment, returned yesterday and unsealed
today in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, was announced by
Isabelle Katz Pinzler, Acting Assistant Attorney General for
Civil Rights; Michael R. Stiles, U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia;
Bob C. Reutter, Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia
Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the
Philadelphia Civil Rights Task Force.

     "This Administration is committed to bridging the racial
divide that separates so many Americans," said Pinzler.  "Every
American, regardless of the color of their skin, should be able
to choose the place they wish to call home."

     The indictment alleges that on or about June 7, 1996,
Samantha Starnes, an African American, rented a home at 2517
South Franklin Street.  Starnes, along with another African
American woman, inspected the property and found it in good
condition.  That night the house was allegedly vandalized to such
an extent that it was uninhabitable.

     "The conduct alleged here is the type intended to
intimidate.  To the victim, it is a crime of terror in which her
attackers are faceless unknown people who hate her for things
that she cannot change," said U.S. Attorney Stiles. "By pursuing
allegations like these, we are warning bigots and perpetrators of
hate crimes that we will respond." 

     According to the indictment, the six men kicked in the front
door of the property, shot out the windows with an air rifle,
placed putty in the front and back door locks, and shot out a
pipe on the toilet causing flood damage.  While destroying the
home, the six allegedly proclaimed their hatred of African
Americans and their commitment to keeping African Americans off
of their block.
     "We take allegations of civil rights violations very
seriously and will pursue them vigorously," said Special Agent in
Charge Reutter. 

     Counts one and two of the indictment alleges that Felix
Demuro, Sr., Dominic Demuro, Edward Majors, Felix Demuro Jr.
Michael Demuro, and Joseph Greenwood, violated Starnes' consti-
tutional right to live in a home of her choosing.  Count three
charges Dominic Demuro with tampering with a witness.

     The grand jury also returned a second indictment charging
Teresa and Arthur Martin with eight counts of perjury.  It
alleged that on August 6, 1996, the two lied to the grand jury
about the incident by denying that they witnessed the vandalism.

          The investigation has been spearheaded by the FBI, and
the prosecution is being jointly handled by the U.S. Attorneys
office in Philadelphia and the Justice Department's Civil Rights

     The Philadelphia Civil Rights Task Force was formed in 1993
to address and investigate hate crimes and to reduce racial
tension in the community.  It is comprised of the U.S. Attorney's
Office, the FBI, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service,
the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, the Department of
Justice Community Relations Service, the Philadelphia District
Attorney's Office, the Philadelphia Police Department, the
Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, the Pennsylvania
Attorney General's Office, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the
Pennsylvania Commission on Human Relations.

     "The existence of the Civil Rights Task Force ensures that
we have a complete response to civil rights incidents, from
mediation and crisis intervention, up to arrests and
prosecutions," added U.S. Attorney Stiles.

     An indictment is a formal accusation, not a finding of 
guilt.  Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. 
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