Kristina Kay Gonzales
February 14, 2012
Hate Crime and Its Past
“Federal law defines a hate crime as whenever the victim is attacked on the basis of his or her race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender; hate offenses are directed against members of a particular group simply because of their membership in that group” (Levin & McDebitt, 1993). Hate crimes have been around for far too long. The first hate crime that was ever documented was in 1922, and that was just the first time that it was documented. Hate crimes were most likely going on long before this incident took place in Louisiana. The FBI encountered a rising in the Ku Klux Klan; it was a white supremacies movement. Two people were kidnapped and murdered and there were thousands of other people who received threats. The Ku Klux Klan and other racist groups committed thousands and thousands of hate crimes sense 1922. “Just in the last couple months, three men were indicated in New Mexico for assaulting a disabled minority. Another man was sentenced for putting a hangman noose on the front door of a minority’s house in Louisiana. In Massachusetts another man was sentenced for burning a predominantly African American church” (Two Men Sentenced for Racially-Motivated Assault, 2012). There are hundreds more stories just like these going on every day. Just because people do not hear about hate crimes as often as they used to, does not mean that they are not still happening.
“Among the single-bias hate crimes incidents in 2009, there were 4,057 victims of racially motivated hate crimes” (US Department of Justice, 2009). Racially motivated hate crimes have the highest statistic rate in 2009. “Since 1990 hate crimes have consistently stayed the same and have ranged between 5500 and 8500” Taylor, J. (2001). There are so many crimes do not get reported because people are usually scared or authorities do not always report these incidents as hate crimes. Racism in the United States has gone all the way back to the colonial and slave era’s. Legally sanctioned racism imposed a heavy burden on Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latin Americans. In the mid-20th century racial discrimination was largely banned and was perceived as socially and morally unacceptable. Even though they have all these laws that make racism acts illegal, it is still happening in work places, housing communities, educational environments, lending, and governmental work places. There are still so many people in the United States that have such prejudices against other races. It is so sad that after all these years; there is still a lot of racism. During this research I have read over a dozen stories on racial hate crimes. These crimes are starting at young ages. Just recently, two Caucasian teenage boys in Chicago allegedly put a noose around the neck of an African American boy and held him captive. This is also happening all over the world, there were several stories that I read that happened in other countries. Out of all the stories that I did read I would have to say that the worst one was the story of James Byrd Jr.
On June 7, 1998, an African American man named James Byrd Jr. was walking down a road in Jasper, Texas. He was on his way home from his niece’s bridal shower that was at his parent’s house. Three men drove by and the owner of the vehicle, Shawn Berry, offered Byrd a ride in the back of his pickup truck. Byrd, who was handicapped on one leg, quickly accepted. One of the passengers, John King, grabbed the wheel and drove to a dark, deserted roadside. King and the third member of the trio, Lawrence Brewer, got out of the truck and began beating Byrd until he was almost unconscious. When they were done beating him, they chained his ankles to the back of the truck and dragged him down the...