Although “hate-crime” legislation has been championed by minority groups in hopes it would discourage racially motivated crime, a recently released FBI crime report reveals that a higher percentage of blacks than whites are charged with race-biased “hate crimes.”
The FBI’s “Hate Crime Statistics” for 1999 show that 2,030 whites were arrested that year for “hate crimes” against blacks, compared to 524 blacks who were arrested and charged with a “hate crime” against whites.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, blacks make up 12.8 percent of the population — or about 35.4 million of the country’s 280 million people — so, given the arrest rate versus population percentage, the data indicates that blacks are one-and-a-half times more likely to be arrested for a “hate crime” than whites.
The Census Bureau’s November 2000 statistics listed the nation’s white population at 226.8 million, or 82.2 percent of the total.
“In light of this study, it’s fair to ask who poses a greater threat to the black community — racist, violent whites or oblivious black politicians?” said Steve Dasbach, the national director for the Libertarian Party.
“Unfortunately, hate crime laws have boomeranged on blacks,” Dasbach said in a recent statement. “African-Americans thought that hate crime legislation would protect them, but instead they’re being used as another legal weapon to prosecute them.”
Dasbach also said the FBI study indicated that another 87 blacks were arrested for hate crimes against other blacks.
“Hate crimes aren’t just for KKK members anymore. They are now being applied even to same-race crimes … apparently giving racist police, prosecutors or judges another weapon to use against African-Americans,” Dasbach said.
The bottom line, Dasbach said, is that crimes against a certain protected class of citizens “should not be treated more seriously than crimes against anyone else.”
The Libertarian Party has advocated a complete elimination of all “hate crime” laws. “Racist criminals, whether black or white, should be punished for their crimes, but hate crime laws aren’t needed to do that,” said the party chief.
Officially, Congress has described a “hate crime” as one “in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim, or in the case of a property crime, the property that is the object of the crime, because of the actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person.”
The party’s position has been echoed by other critics of “hate crimes” laws who say legislation is written in such a way that authorities often have too much arbitrary power to decide whether a crime had a racial undertone.
Many believe that “hate crime” laws, now in 45 states, have hit poor and minority communities the worst.
“It is demonstrable that these laws hit the poor and minorities hardest. It wasn’t meant that way, but that’s the way it is,” said Christopher Plourd — a criminal defense lawyer who has represented a number of clients charged with “hate crimes” — in an Oct. 30 interview with columnist Arianna Huffington.
“In the same way that [police] don’t go on white college campuses trying to enforce drug laws, but come to the ‘hood, they’ll use these new hate crime laws against the NAACP’s own constituents,” Van Jones, director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, told Huffington.
Ironically, most blacks continue to vote heavily for Democrats who have championed “hate crimes” legislation for years. According to the NAACP, about 88 percent of blacks who voted in last November’s elections chose Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore and other Democratic candidates for nationwide and local races.
Prior to the Nov. 7 election, the NAACP launched a $9 million national campaign effort in support of Gore, who had been a vociferous supporter of past “hate crimes” legislation.
Some Republicans have also backed expansion of federal legislation, but last fall GOP leaders killed “hate crimes” language in the Defense Department’s appropriations bill out of fear it would have jeopardized the whole measure.
Also, GOP leaders said that while current federal law was sufficient to punish criminals convicted of racially motivated crime, overall, the issue of “hate crimes” legislation seemed contrary to the Constitution’s equality provisions.
“It should not be made a matter of federal law to designate one group of crimes and its victims less important than others,” said John Czwartacki, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., in an October interview with the Associated Press.
The FBI said there were a total of 7,876 “bias motivation” incidents in 1999. Anti-white incidents accounted for 781 of those, while anti-black incidents numbered 2,958. Anti-Hispanic incidents accounted for 466 of 829 ethnicity/national origin-related incidents.
Of religiously based “bias events,” anti-Jewish figures accounted for 1,109 of 1,411 documented incidents. Anti-Protestant incidents numbered 48, and anti-Catholic incidents accounted for 36 of the cases.
Also, the FBI said there were a total of 1,317 “sexual orientation” incidents. Of those, 915 were anti-male homosexual; 187 were anti-female homosexual; 178 were anti-homosexual in general; and 14 were anti-heterosexual. Twenty-three incidents were anti-bisexual in nature.
The bureau also said law enforcement officials recorded 9,301 “crimes against persons” offenses in 1999. California — the nation’s most populous state at over 34 million people — recorded the most offenses with 2,295, followed by New Jersey (663), New York (602), and Massachusetts and Michigan with 492 each.
Mississippi, North Dakota, and Wyoming led the nation with the least “crimes against persons” incidents, with just 2 each, followed by Alaska and the District of Columbia (6 each), Louisiana (7), Arkansas (9) and South Dakota (14).
Crimes against persons include murder and non-negligent manslaughter (17), forcible rape (6), aggravated assault (1,120), simple assault (1,766) and intimidation crimes (3,268). There were 12 offenses listed as “other.”
The FBI’s study appeared in the bureau’s annual “Uniform Crime Report” and included data from over 12,000 law enforcement agencies around the country.