Hate Crimes Law Defined

Hate is a common emotion that people can feel for another group. In most cases, this hate is guided by the fact of misunderstanding and prejudice for the different. When hate is expressed and a criminal act is committed against people with protected characteristics relating to nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity or disability, like violence, harassment, damage to property, etc., a hate crime is committed.

In Sacramento California, four arsons and three attempted arsons were committed by a self proclaimed white separatist in the months of July and October 1993. The string of events started with attempted arson of a Jewish temple. In later days, the local office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was destroyed by fire. August and September brought more incidents of failed arson attempts where it became clear to investigators that these acts were motivated by hate.

The arsonist who called himself the Aryan Liberation Front set fire to offices of the Bristol Citizen League and the State Office of Fair Employment and Housing and the home of the Englishman city councilman. Further attacks were also warned about. This started a widespread feeling of fear in the public and so pressure was put on the local, state and federal officials to stop the burnings. The crimes became more serious when the second wave of arsons started and due to this, the investigation was given full support from officials in every level of government. The Sacramento Police Department concluded that in order to be effective, resources had to be funneled through an official task force on hate crime.

With command of the tactical field personnel of the task force delegated to an operations lieutenant within the police department, surveillance of potential targets and deployment of tactical field teams were made to respond to new crimes and fleeing suspects. The effort to stop hate crimes increased to the point that community is also involved.

Hate crimes are also known as bias crimes and these are crimes that are motivated by enmity against a protected class in society. This means that crimes are committed on the basis of a person’s protected characteristics like his race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or because of a disability.

Hate crimes include acts like vandalism, arson, assault or murder of a person of such characteristics that he or she cannot change. These criminal acts are committed and motivated by prejudice which harms not only the person with protected characteristics but also the society as a whole. It is the essence of the constitution to protect freedom of speech, expression and thought but no one has the right to punish people for beliefs and characteristics that they might have which are different from the majority.

In the recent past, the hate crimes law only covered a limited area of hate crimes. Basic civil rights laws 10 years ago stated that persons with protected characteristics have the right to attend school, have the right to be themselves and have the right to be free from violence which is motivated by prejudice or hatred. As of October 2009, President Obama expanded the hate crimes law by signing a bill on hate crimes where the prerequisite of engaging in a federally protected activity is lifted.

Hate crimes constitute violence, threats of harm, intimidation, or damage to belongings. It also includes harassment, discrimination, and being attacked just because of their gender identity, religion or race. Victims of hate crimes are left feeling degraded, frightened, suspicious, vulnerable or worse, dead. This leads to a feeling of fear, outrage or alienation in a specific group where they also feel vulnerable and powerless. If this happens, the society is also affected with fear and even loss of trust in the whole system

Theme: Elation by Kaira.