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What are Hate Crimes?
Section 13 of 16

Hate crimes are motivated by bias against an individual's actual or perceived race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or gender. Examples include assault and battery, vandalism, or threats which involve bias indicators-pieces of evidence like bigoted name-calling or graffiti. A hate crime is a civil rights violation under Massachusetts law and, in some cases, federal law. Hate crimes are not only crimes against the targeted victim, but also against a particular group as a whole. Hate crimes are attacks on communities.

Source: Stop The Hate


"Isn't any crime a hate crime?"

No, if the victim was not selected on the basis of a targeted group, it was not a hate crime. That does not mean other murders are less horrible or less important. It means there are still target groups which are not being protected equally by existing law because of persistence of belief, by some people, that these singled-out groups are not as important under the law.

Not everybody agrees with the view that more than one crime may be committed when a person is singled out for murder solely on the basis of race, color, creed or sexual orientation.

If all other things were equal, defining special legal sanctions and means of prosecuting crimes against minority target groups would, surely, be favoritism. The rationale for hate crime laws is recognition that the existing laws clearly are not deterring high incidences of crime against specific target groups.

When those target groups are victimized at a much higher incidence than the population as a whole, it is only moral for the law to recogize the problem. This does not define or create a "special right". It addresses a specific, pre-existing problem.

This would all be easier to understand if you were already a member of a class with a much greater likelihood of being attacked or murdered.

The following statement about victims of murder is easy to understand. It is also a good argument why, if African-Americans and gays are singled out for beatings and murder at a much higher rate than other Americans, the law needs not only equal justice for the deceased, but equal preventative measures.

Maggie Elvey, 57, of the Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau in Sacramento, takes exception with that view. Two teens -- age 15 and 16 -- jumped her husband, Ross, in April 1993, while they were robbing his business, then beat him to death with a metal pipe.

"Every murder is just as brutal, just as traumatizing on the survivors,'' Elvey noted. "All of the people who are victims of murder are equal.''

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

Other Resources:

Committee on Hate Violence - county-funded citizens' advisory group to reduce and eliminate racial hate violence.
Hate Crime Report - from the FBI.
Hate Crimes In America - report from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
Hate-Motivated Violence - report from the Department of Justice, Canada.
North Carolinians Against Racist and Religious Violence - NCARRV - Eliminating hate violence through monitoring and research, victim assistance, community organizing, networking, and suggesting changes in public policy. 5/26/2002 update: The link to NCARRV was found to be broken. Do a Google Search to find out more about NCARRV.
Not In Our Town - PBS special featuring Americans responding to hate crimes.
NYC Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (AVP) - serves lesbian and gay crime victims through counseling, advocacy, information and referrals. Working to change public attitudes that tolerate, insulate or instigate hate-motivated crime.
Racism, Hate Crimes and the Law - proceedings of a symposium held in Vancouver, BC.
Stop The Hate - youth leadership development in civil rights, law enforcement, hate crimes reporting, victim recovery, violence prevention, prejudice reduction and programs for at risk populations.



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