Racism Alive and Well in Venice

Shakespeare Memorial. Photo by Greta Cobar.

Shakespeare Memorial. Photo by Greta Cobar.


Shakespeare’s Family

By Greta Cobar
In this day and age, and especially here in Venice, we would like to think that the last thing we would witness would be a socio-economic, racist hate crime. Indeed, to our astonishment, that is what occurred on August 30.
Cadillac hotel owner Sris Sinnathamby ordered his gunman to “kill that nigger,” and several shots were fired, which ultimately lead to the death of 26 year old Jascent Jamal Lee Warren, known in Venice as Shakespeare.
“It was a 10 minute ordeal from the first to the last gunshot – it seemed like it was forever,” said a witness to the murder who wanted to remain anonymous in fear of retaliation.
“Three to four rounds of gunshots were fired, and then three to four more, and then again. He fired, re-loaded, fired again,” the anonymous witness went on to say.
“I heard Shakespeare tell the gunman ‘Put the gun down, we’ll settle this like men,’ but the gunman was not into that at all. I heard the owner of the Cadillac scream to his gunman ‘Kill that nigger!’ at least 3 times,” the witness said.
Several witnesses reported that the owner of the Cadillac instructed his gunman to get rid of the house-less individuals sleeping on the sidewalk on Dudley. Shakespeare is said to have gotten involved advocating for the people’s right to rest.
The altercation moved from the Cadillac to the pagoda off OFW and Dudley, where the shooting actually occurred at 2am. Both the owner of the Cadillac and his gunman were in violation of the illegal, selectively enforced curfew in effect on OFW between midnight and 5am.
“The guy with the gun was by the pagoda, shooting around people – he didn’t seem to care that there were other people in the vicinity. He was aiming for Shakespeare. I can’t believe 15 people didn’t get shot. I think he should get more time in jail for being such a bad shooter. Shakespeare didn’t get shot till the guy came right on him,” the same anonymous witness stated.
Another man in his 40s was shot in his leg, and his injuries were not life-threatening.
The gunman immediately fled in a black Chevy Suburban with custom wheels, and the witnesses to the incident hit the owner of the Cadillac.
“I called 911 when the shooting started – got that recording thing for eight or nine minutes. The cops aren’t gonna help you – they won’t show up till the guy is shot and the other guy is gone,” the same witness said.
“The owner of the hotel says that he wants to get rid of the gangster manner, but then he acts in a gangster manner. The owner needs to be the foothold of the establishment, he needs to be responsible for calling 911 when there is a problem, not shoot people,” another person who chose to remain anonymous told the Beachhead.
“We love him. His body might have been destroyed, but long live his spirit and his soul in the presence of Christ,” Herbert Warren, Shakespeare’s father, stated in a conversation with the Beachhead. He visited Venice following his son’s murder with his wife Freeda Warren and two of Shakespeare’s older brothers, Herb Warren, Jr. and Jonathan Warren.
“My brother was a great man – he will live through his music and his son, seven year old Isaiah Warren. We will turn this hotel into a homeless shelter, training and transitioning center,” Shakespeare’s brother Herb Warren told the Beachhead.
“What is your venom towards those who are down and out? You’re OK with a murderer (such as yourself), but not OK with the homeless?” Shakespeare’s father, Herbert Warren asked.
According to his father, Shakespeare moved to Venice from North Hollywood a year and a half ago to work as front-desk clerk at the Su Casa hotel. “He has worked there since and he just gave his two-week notice, to go work with a nonprofit that goes around the country to help the homeless,” Shakespeare’s father Herbert Warren said.
“I want to see justice served. I want to see this guy in prison,” Herbert Warren stated, referring to Sinnathamby.
“My son was not homeless, he lived with his girlfriend,” Herbert Warren told the Beachhead.
“We loved him dearly. He had a caring heart and was into his music, and what was happening here on the street and making positive change,” Herbert Warren said.
The gunman, who is Latino, is still at large
Deputy District Attorney Kristin Trutanich said she viewed the video of the shooting, and Sris Sinnathamby, the owner of the Cadillac, “aided, abetted and directed the shooting.”
The gunman’s black Chevy Suburban was parked right where Nathan Campbell parked his car right before he drove onto the OFW to kill Alice Gruppioni, the Italian honeymooning tourist. As there was clear video of that incident, there probably is for what happened Sunday at 2am. Why descriptions, pictures and videos of the gunman and his car have not been released is a mystery. Coincidentally, Campbell was sentenced on September 25 to 42 years to life in state prison for causing the death of Gruppioni and injuring 17 others.
The murder of Shakespeare occurred at 2am on August 30, and at 8am that same day Sinnathamby was arrested. His arraignment was on Monday, and on Tuesday, September 1 he was charged with one count of first degree murder. He pled not guilty.
His bail was initially set at $5 million, and Deputy District Attorney Kristin Trutanich argued to keep the bail high, because the 54-year old immigrant from Sri Lanka is a flight risk.
However, Judge Keith Schwartz reduced his bail to $1 million. He is currently out on bail. He had to surrender his passport and wear an electronic monitoring device. His next court appearance is October 14.
After several witnesses heard Sinnathamby scream over and over again: “Kill that nigger!”, his defense attorney Alan Jackson raised the issue of race, suggesting the high bail indicated a racial bias against his client because of the color of his skin and his last name.
“This has been going on since the ‘70s. They create the race wars to have our kids go to prison, get on drugs, become so disillusioned and depressed. It’s been a constant over the last thirty years. Any other time that would have started a race war. We’re not moving out quick enough for them. But the kids got smarter, and there is no retaliation,” said Laddie Williams.
“Kids are more educated and not so quick to bite,” said Pam Anderson.
“To this day racism is instituted in the system – until Blacks are free and not subjected to racism, we people of color pay a price,” Yolanda Miranda told the Beachhead.
“The merchant class in Venice has decided – in one way or another – to be aggressive towards the homeless and call the police,” Jim Smith observed. He pointed out that all three deadly shootings that took place in Venice since May involved a business versus a house-less individual.
Brendon Glenn, 29, was shot and killed by the cops in front of the Townhouse after the bouncer of the Townhouse called the cops. Jason Davis, 41, was shot and killed by the cops in front of Groundworks on Rose after the coffeehouse called 911 and reported a man with a knife. He actually had a box cutter. And of course Shakespeare, 26, killed at the orders of the owner of the Cadillac hotel.
Shakespeare was a pretty well known musician in Venice, with lyrics that earned him his nickname.
Several memorials and marches were held in Shakespeare’s honor, such as the ones on September 2, 13 and 27. He is survived by his son, seven year old Isaiah Warren, three older brothers, two older sisters, and his parents.