Why The Department of Justice Is Ignoring Hate Crimes
Still No Mention of ‘Anti-White Hate Crimes’ Imagine That!
Hate crimes evoke vivid images in our nation’s history and present – lynchings; bombings of places of worship; and gay bashing, among others.
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act of 2009 (“Hate Crimes Act”) defines hate crimes as offenses that
willfully cause bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), which in coordination with the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) collects, analyzes, and publishes hate crime statistics, there were 6,624 “single-bias incidents” in 2010, the most recent year for which statistics have been made available. Of these, 4,824 hate crimes were classified as “crimes against persons”; and 2,621 were “crimes against property.” The FBI reports that of the 6,624 incidents:
47.3 percent were motivated by a racial bias, 20.0 percent were motivated by a religious bias, 19.3 percent were motivated by a sexual orientation bias, and 12.8 percent were motivated by an ethnicity/national origin bias. Bias against a disability accounted for 0.6 percent of single-bias incidents.
Of the 4,824 hate crimes against persons:
Intimidation accounted for 46.2 percent of these crimes, assaults for 34.8 percent, and aggravated assaults for 18.4 percent. In addition, seven murders were reported as hate crimes.
These alarming statistics beg an important question: Why has the Department of Justice since 2009 used its federal mandate under the Hate Crimes Act to prosecute successfully only three criminals?
Standing In The Way Of Enforcement
Carrie Johnson of NPR’s Morning Edition correctly reports that at least two bars officially stand in the way of greater DOJ engagement. One holds water; the other does not.
First, the Hate Crimes Act does not apply to speech. In fact, the Act includes three subsections that distinguish and place limitations on the Act’s construction based on free expression; the First Amendment; and general constitutional protections, respectively. It states that it
shall [not] be construed to allow prosecution solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs . . . including the exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and peaceful picketing or demonstration.
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