Hate Crimes Motivated by Race, Ethnicity/Ancestry Bias

Sometimes we believe that person commits a crime because they hate their victims, or that crimes such, assault, vandalism, murder or terrorism are the same as a hate crime. However, it is an enormous difference between these crimes. A crime is an act deemed to be illegal, but a hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias (FBI, 2016). For instance, the FBI to collect statistics has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity. (FBI, 2016). “Hate itself is not a crime -and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties (FBI, 2016).

The primary purpose of this paper will investigate hate crimes that are directed toward Race, Ethnicity/Ancestry bias and explore current hate crime policies in the United States. One of the groups that are victims of hate crimes due to bias motivation is people of different races, ethnicity or ancestry. Racial bias is a preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons who possess common physical characteristics such as a color of skin, eyes, hair, facial features, etc., genetically transmitted by descent and heredity which distinguish them as a distinct division of humankind (FBI, 2016). In 2013, the national UCR Program began collecting revised race and ethnicity data in accordance with a directive from the U.S. Government’s Office of Management and Budget. The race categories were expanded from four (White, Black, Native American or Alaska Native, and Asian or Other Pacific Islander) to five (White, Black or African American, Native American or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders). The ethnicity categories changed from “Hispanic” and “Non-Hispanic” to “Hispanic or Latino” and “Not Hispanic or Latino” (FBI, 2016). In the year 2015, there were a reported 7,173 offenses that were reported by the FBI as a hate crime. Among single-bias hate crime incidents in 2015, there were 4,216 victims of race, ethnicity, and ancestry motivated hate crime of which 52.2 percent were victims of crimes motivated by their offenders anti-Black or African American bias.

Also, 18.7 percent were victims of anti-White bias, 9.3 percent were victims of anti-Hispanic or Latino prejudice, and 3.8 percent were victims of the discrimination against a group of individuals in which more than one race was represented (anti-multiple races group). There was 3.3 percent victims of anti-American Indian or Alaska Native bias and 3.2 percent were victims of anti-Asian bias. Victims of anti-Arab prejudice were 1.1 percent, and only 0.1 percent (6 individuals) were victims of anti-native Hawaiian or another Pacific Islander bias. Finally, 8.1 percent were victims of anti-Other Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry bias (FBI, 2016). As we can observe in these statistics, the higher number of incidents were the biased motivation of race, ethnicity, and ancestry and the most victims involved were people of color. In the USA hate crimes against blacks remain far more numerous than hate crimes against other groups. For example, 1,745 out of 3,310 hate crime incidents motivated by racial bias in 2015 targeted Black or African Americans (FBI, 2016).

Also, according to the FBI report, of the 6,885 reported hate crime offenses in 2015, the type of crimes involved: 26.9 percent were intimidation, 24.7 percent were destruction/damage/vandalism, 24.6 percent were simple assault, 12.8 percent were aggravated assault, 65.1 percent were crimes against persons, 34.0 percent were crimes against property and 0.9 percent were crimes against society (FBI, 2016). One of the factors that increased hate crime motivated by race in 2015 was Donald Trump campaign. Even though hate crimes motivated by race, ethnicity, and ancestry bias have been common in the United States (Mince-Didier, Para. 2), Donald trump elections helped to increase these crimes radically. The FBI reported in December that twice as many hate crimes were recorded in New York City after the election than in the same period in 2015, with around 867 post-election hate incidents which affected immigrants, blacks, Muslim, LGBT, women, Semitism, etc. (SPLC, 2016, p. 11). Because of Donald Trump made hate and negative speeches against immigrants especially, some group of people such as Mexicans and Muslims, supporters felt encouraged to create violent acts against others because of their race and nationalities.

Even though this type of expressions should not be tolerated or yet accepted in a presidential campaign, it seems that the people are attracted and motivated for it to commit hate crimes against people only because of their skin color or not being American. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center organization reported, “Just a week before the November 8th election, attackers set a church in Greenville, Mississippi, on fire. The historically black church was targeted in what authorities believe was an act of voter intimidation, its walls spray-painted with the phrase “Vote Trump.” Greenville’s mayor said, this kind of attack happened in the 1950s and 1960s, but it shouldn’t happen in 2016″ (SPLC, 2016, p. 2). Also, hate incidents involving Muslims, or those perceived to be Muslim, were about 6% of the total collected by the SPLC. Muslim Americans are frequently characterized as terrorists. In Nashville, a white man in a truck hurled racial slurs at a woman wearing a hijab while she waited for the bus with her son. “Go back to your fucking country and take your terrorist son with you,” he said as he drove away (SPLC, 2016, p. 10). Overall immigrants were the most affected, Latino residents have reported being harassed by their neighbors and adult strangers have targeted even children in public places.

For instance, on a beach in Hermosa, California, a 10-year-old boy was approached by a middle-aged white man who called him a “beaner” and told him to “get the fuck out” of the country (SPLC, 2016, p. 7). These type harassments have reported since Donald Trump elections and because Trump has done little to quell the rise in hate, the connection between many of these occurrences and his presidency is clear (Jenkins, 2017). Competition is another factor that encourages hate crime, offenders see themselves as defending their turf: their neighborhood, their workplace, their religion or their country. When applying for a job, housing, college, medical treatment America use to classify and categorize people into groups such as gender, race, class levels, and these classifications created competitions putting people against one another. For instance, poverty, lack of employment and housing is one of the reasons why people kill each other every day. Thinking that one group of people is better than another one and separating groups created hate and crime (Gerstenfeld, 2004). According to Daniel Burke, there are four categories of hate-crimes that motivate hate offenders such as retaliatory crimes, thrill-seeking crimes, defensive crimes and mission crimes. Retaliatory crimes are often seen as revenge, whether in response to personal slights, other hate crimes or terrorism.

For example, After the 9/11 attacks, hate crimes against Arabs and Muslims rose by 1,600%. A similar spike occurred after the Paris attacks in 2015 (Burke, 2017). The desire for excitement motivates Thrill-seeking crimes offenders. Often there is no real reason for these crimes, experts say. They’re committed for the thrill of it, and the victims are vulnerable just because their sexual, racial, ethnic, gender or religious background differs from that of their attackers (Burke, 2017). Defensive crimes, in these hate crimes, the attackers see themselves as “defending” their turf: their neighborhood, their workplace, their religion or their country (Burke, 2017). Mission crimes These are the deadliest and rarest types of hate crimes. They are committed by people who consider themselves “crusaders,” often for a racial or religious cause their mission: a total war against members of a rival race or religion. They are often linked to groups that share their racist views (Burke, 2017). Besides of all these factors, there have also been laws that have motivated hate crime offenders such as Anti-miscegenation laws and the segregation or disenfranchisement laws are known as “Jim Crow”, where “Whites Only” and “Colored” signs were constant reminders of the enforced racial order (Mince-Didier, Para. 2). Also, speeches from certain people have strengthened racism and hate.

For instance, in 1973 when the supreme court struck down laws criminalizing abortion, president Richard Nixon stated that “there are times when an abortion is necessary “when you have a black and a white.” These types of statements, and currently Donald trump president speeches, can contribute to the hate that some people develop against others only because of their race or ethnicity (Gerstenfeld, 2004). However, though still, some people contribute to negative feelings toward other individuals just because of their race, there are hate crimes policies that protect them. According to Department of Justice, “The 1968 statute made it a crime to use, or threaten to use, force to willfully interfere with any person because of race, color, religion, or national origin. And also because the person is participating in a federally protected activity, such as public education, employment, jury service, travel, or the enjoyment of public accommodations, or helping another person to do so. In 1968, Congress also made it a crime to use, or threaten to use, force to interfere with housing rights because of the victim’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; in 1988, protections on the basis of familial status and were added. In 1996, Congress passed the Church Arson Prevention Act, under this Act, it is a crime to deface, damage, or destroy religious real property, or interfere with a person’s religious practice, in situations affecting interstate commerce. The Act also bars defacing, damaging, or destroying religious property because of the race, color, or ethnicity of persons associated with the property” (US Department of Justice, 2017, para. 2).

Also, in 2009, Congress passed, and President Obama signed, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This act allows the federal government to assist in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes or, in limited circumstances, to investigate and prosecute hate crime cases when a locality is unable or unwilling to pursue. Second, it ensures that those criminals who target their victims because of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability are all covered by the law (Anti-Defamation League, 2012). Laws like the ones mentioned above are fundamental because they control people with violent attitudes against a person because of their race and control hate crime in all. However, various countries not tolerate hate crime at all, including hate speech. Publicly speaking of someone because of their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal. Some laws criminalize speech because of the particular content of that statement. The prohibited substance differs widely: in some jurisdictions speech that incites hatred or is insulting about specific groups is penalized.

For example, Germany committed a genocide across Europe during the Holocaust of the 1930s and 1940s because of this; its speech laws reflect active efforts to rein in words and attitudes that Germany’s government once broadcast to the point of saturation (Jennifer & George, p. 2). In Germany, Basic Law serves as the nation’s constitution, among its guarantees is the freedom freely to express and disseminate opinions in speech, writing, and pictures and to inform [one]self without hindrance but under the Basic Law. This freedom can be limited by the provisions of general laws and the right to personal dignity is particularly important under the Basic Law. Also, Basic Laws include a right to freedom of speech or expression. However, it limits discriminatory speech. Much like Germany’s, Israel’s Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty open by declaring its purpose to protect human dignity (Jennifer & George, p. 3). On the other hands, united states protect the first amendment more than people dignity and the right to life. “The First Amendment does not protect violence, and it does not prevent the government from imposing criminal penalties for violent, discriminatory conduct directed against victims by their characteristics. Hate crime laws do not punish speech. Americans are free to think and believe whatever they want. It is only when an individual commits a crime because of those biased beliefs and intentionally targets another for violence or vandalism that a hate crime statute can be triggered” (Anti-Defamation League, 2012.p 3).

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