Archive for the ‘Hate Crimes’ Category

Hate crime legal definition of hate crime – Legal Dictionary

A crime motivated by racial, religious, gender, sexual orientation, or other prejudice.

Hate crimes are based, at least in part, on the defendant’s belief regarding a particular status of the victim. Hate-crime statutes were first passed by legislatures in the late 1980s and early 1990s in response to studies that indicated an increase in crimes motivated by prejudice. Approximately 30 states and the federal government have some form of hate-crime statute. Many localities have also enacted their own hate-crime ordinances.

The precise definition of hate crime varies from state to state. Some states define a hate crime as any crime based on a belief regarding the victim’s race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry. Some states exclude crimes based on a belief regarding the victim’s sexual orientation. Others limit their definition to certain crimes such as harassment, assault, and damage to property. In all states, the victim’s actual status is irrelevant. For example, if a victim is attacked by someone who believes that the victim is gay, the attack is a hate crime whether or not the victim is actually gay.

Generally, there are three types of hate-crime statutes. Two provide for punishment; the third type mandates only the collection of hate-crime data. One version defines a hate crime as a discrete offense and provides stiff punishment for the offense. Under Ohio’s statute, for example, any person who commits menacing, aggravated menacing, criminal damage or criminal endangerment, criminal mischief, or telephone harassment “by reason of the race, color, religion, or national origin of another person or group of persons” is guilty of the hate crime termed ethnic intimidation (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2927.12 [Baldwin 1996]). The gravity of ethnic intimidation is always one degree higher than a base offense. For example, menacing is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree, but menacing based on ethnicity is a more serious offense, classified in Ohio as a misdemeanor of the third degree.

Another type of hate-crime law enhances punishment for certain offenses that are motivated by hate. In Wisconsin, for example, defendants who intentionally select their victims based at least in part on the victims’ race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry are subject to more severe penalties than they would receive in the absence of such hate-based intent (Wis. Stat. 939.645 [1995]). Thus in Wisconsin, for a class A misdemeanor based on hate, the maximum fine is $10,000, and the maximum period of imprisonment is two years in jail or prison (Wis. Stat. Ann. 939.645(2)(a)), whereas an ordinary class A misdemeanor is punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000 or up to nine months in jail, or both ( 939.51(3)(a)). For a class B misdemeanor, a less serious crime, the maximum fine is $1,000, and the maximum imprisonment is 90 days in jail. If the class B misdemeanor is a hate crime, the maximum fine is $10,000, and the maximum sentence is one year in jail.

A third type of hate-crime statute simply requires the collection of statistics. At the federal level, the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990 (Pub. L. No. 101-275, 104 Stat. 140 [28 U.S.C.A. 534 (1990)]) requires the Justice Department to collect statistics on crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice. Data must be acquired for crimes based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. The purpose of the act is to provide the data necessary for Congress to develop effective policies against hate-motivated violence, to raise public awareness, and to track hate-crime trends.

Laws against hate crimes might conflict with rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Generally, the First Amendment protects a citizen’s right to the free expression of thoughts. However, the courts have ruled that First Amendment rights may give way to the greater public good. For example, there is no First Amendment protection for someone who falsely yells “Fire!” in a crowded theater, because such speech endangers the safety of others. Such expression might give rise to a Disorderly Conduct charge or similar charge. In determining the constitutionality of hate-crime legislation, one primary question is whether the prohibited speech deserves First Amendment protection.

In 1997, the federal government documented 9,861 hate crimes based on the victims’ religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. More than half of these crimes were motivated by racial bias, and more than 1,000 were based on sexual orientation. These statistics were illustrated in a pair of hate crimes that drew national attention. The deaths of James Byrd, Jr. and Matthew Shepard appeared to be quintessential hate crimes.

Byrd was walking along a street in his Jasper, Texas, community late at night in June 1998 when he was given a ride by three white men in a pickup truck: The men beat him and chained him by his ankles (with a towing chain) to the back of their truck and dragged him for nearly three miles. Byrd was decapitated and dismembered as he was dragged behind the truck. He had been alive and conscious when it all began. All three of the perpetrators were on Parole at the time and had extensive criminal records. It was alleged that at least two of the men had affiliations with racist groups, such as the Aryan Nation and the Ku Klux Klan, and displayed white-supremacist tattoos. All three were convicted of murder, and two were sentenced to death. Mathew Shepard was a 21-year-old college student at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. On October 12, 1998, he died, in part, because he was a homosexual. On October 6, 1998, two men in their early twenties entered a local bar, where Shepard was already drinking. The men, pretending to be gay, approached Shepard who eventually left with them. The men then drove him to a deserted area, where they tied him to a fence and pistol-whipped him until his skull collapsed. They took his wallet and shoes and obtained his address so that they could rob his apartment. Shepard was discovered 18 hours later, still tied to the fence. He never regained consciousness. The pair were charged with first-degree murder, Kidnapping, and aggravated Robbery. Both men plead guilty to the charges and were sentenced to serve two consecutive life sentences, escaping a possible death sentence.

The U.S. Supreme Court has been called upon to examine the constitutionality of hate-crime laws. In 1992 the Court struck down a St. Paul, Minnesota, ordinance on the ground that it violated the First Amendment (R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377, 112 S. Ct. 2538, 120 L. Ed. 2d 305 [1992]). In R.A.V. several juvenile defendants were tried and convicted after they allegedly assembled a crude, wooden cross and set it on fire in the yard of an African-American family in St. Paul. The teenagers were arrested and charged under St. Paul’s Bias-Motivated Crime Ordinance (Minn. Legis. Code 292.02). Under the ordinance, a person who placed “on public or private property a symbol, object, appellation, characterization or graffiti, including, but not limited to, a burning cross or Nazi swastika” and who had reason to know that the display would arouse anger or alarm in others based on “race, color, creed, religion or gender” was guilty of a misdemeanor.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s upholding of the state “hate-crime” law in Wisconsin v. Mitchell, 508 U.S. 476, 113 S. Ct. 2194, 124 L. Ed. 2d 436 (1993), has not stopped some legal commentators from arguing that such laws violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Though these critics generally admit that hate crimes are on the rise, they believe that laws that increase the severity of punishment on the basis of the motives of the perpetrator create a dangerous precedent for government interference with freedom of expression and thought. Defenders of hate-crime laws reject these fears, claiming that the laws deal with criminal conduct and are meant to send a message that discrimination will not be tolerated.

Critics of the laws have articulated a number of reasons for their opposition, some constitutional, some practical. The foremost concern is that hate-crime laws violate a person’s right to freedom of thought. These statutes enhance the penalties for conduct already punished under state law when the perpetrator is motivated by a type of bigotry the legislature finds offensive. Therefore, if a rich man assaults a Homeless Person because he hates the poor, the rich man can be charged only with assault, because the legislature has not specifically found bigotry against the poor to be offensive. However, if a man assaults an African American because he hates persons of that race, he can be charged with assault and intimidation, which carries a more severe penalty, or his sentence for assault can be increased, because the legislature has penalized a racially discriminatory motive. For the critics of hate-crime laws, this result reveals that the legislature is regulating the defendant’s thoughts, in violation of the First Amendment.

Critics also charge that the focus on motive distorts the traditional rules of Criminal Law. In the past, criminal law was interested in a defendant’s mental state only to the extent that it would reveal whether the defendant had engaged in deliberate conduct. As a general rule, the motive of a crime has never been considered an element that must be proved at trial. Whether a person robbed a bank to buy food for a family or to pay back a gambling debt is considered irrelevant. The key state-of-mind question is whether the person intended to rob the bank.

Some critics also ask what good the additional penalty will do for persons convicted of hate crimes. If a person is filled with prejudices, extra time spent in prison is not likely to help eradicate those beliefs; it may, in fact, reinforce them. These critics do not believe that hate-crime laws seek to deter criminal activity. They feel that instead such laws appear to seek retribution for acts of violence motivated by racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia. The critics contend the retribution model is not compatible with the modern goals of the criminal and penal systems.

Another criticism is that hate-crime laws do not address deeper forces within society that create prejudice. Some social psychologists believe that prejudice and the behavior that may accompany it are caused by a combination of social, economic, and psychological conflicts. Adding more punishment for those who act on their prejudice may give the community the illusion it is dealing with the problem, but, in fact, hate-crime laws do little to help change thought and behavior.

Defenders of hate-crime laws reject the idea that they are taking away anyone’s First Amendment rights. They note that in Mitchell the Supreme Court rejected as “too speculative a hypothesis” the “chilling effect” argument, which maintains that these laws chill, or inhibit, free thought and speech. The Court also cited precedent that permitted the “evidentiary use of speech to establish the elements of a crime or to prove motive or intent.” This means that persons are free to express their ideas, no matter how repugnant, but when they engage in unlawful conduct based on these beliefs, they surrender their First Amendment rights.

Defenders also believe that hate-crime laws, like other criminal laws, are aimed at preventing harmful acts. The focus is not on stifling disagreeable and prejudicial beliefs or biases, but on preventing the particularly harmful effects of hate crimes. Even critics of the laws admit that hate-crime violence is often brutal and severe. Defenders argue that increasing the penalties for this type of behavior is therefore justified.

Supporters of hate-crime laws point out, as did the Supreme Court in Mitchell, that most of the statutes use the same language as title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C.A. 2000e et seq.). Why, they ask, is it acceptable to penalize employment discrimination that is based on racism and bigotry, but not criminal acts based on similar biases? The courts have long upheld federal and state discrimination laws as acceptable methods of penalizing conduct and promoting nondiscriminatory practices. Intentional employment discrimination requires a person to communicate his or her bias. Supporters conclude that once a person verbalizes a prejudice and acts on it, the state is free to regulate that conduct.

The trial court dismissed the charge on the grounds that it was overbroad and unconstitutionally content-based. Specifically, the court ruled that the statute criminalized too much behavior and infringed on First Amendment rights of free speech. The city of St. Paul appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which reversed the trial court’s ruling. The teenagers then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.The high court was unanimous in striking down the St. Paul ordinance. However, it was divided in its legal reasoning. According to the majority opinion, the ordinance violated the First Amendment. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, declared the statute unconstitutional because it prohibited “other-wise permitted speech solely on the basis of the subjects the speech addresses.” Scalia illustrated this point by noting that a government may proscribe libelous speech, but that it may not proscribe only libelous speech that is critical of the government. The St. Paul ordinance violated this constitutional rule by proscribing only hate speech delivered through symbols.

In a separate opinion, the concurring justices argued that the majority opinion weakened previous First Amendment Jurisprudence. Specifically, the majority opinion protected fighting words, a form of speech that provokes hostile encounters and is not protected by the First Amendment. By holding that “lawmakers may not regulate some fighting words more strictly than others because of their content,” the majority had forced legislatures to criminalize all fighting words in order to legally prohibit the most dangerous ones.

According to the concurring justices, the statute was merely overbroadthat is, it legitimately regulated unprotected speech, but it also impermissibly prohibited speech that can cause only hurt feelings or resentment. With more careful wording, the concurring justices argued, hate-crime laws could pass constitutional muster. However, under the Court’s majority opinion, this did not seem possible.

In 1993, the Supreme Court revisited hate-crime legislation and unanimously adopted a coherent approach. In State v. Mitchell, 508 U.S. 476, 113 S. Ct. 2194, 124 L. Ed. 2d 436 (1993), Todd Mitchell, a young black man from Kenosha, Wisconsin, was convicted of aggravated Battery and received an increased sentence under the Wisconsin hate-crime statute. The incident at issue began with Mitchell asking some friends, “Do you all feel hyped up to move on some white people?” Shortly thereafter, Mitchell spotted Gregory Reddick, a 14-year-old white male, walking on the other side of the street. Mitchell then said to the group, “You all want to fuck somebody up? There goes a white boy; go get him.” The group attacked Reddick. Reddick suffered extensive injuries, including brain damage, and was comatose for four days.

Mitchell appealed his conviction to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which held that the hate-crime statute violated the First Amendment. The state of Wisconsin appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which reversed the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s ruling. The high court ruled that the Wisconsin statute was constitutional because it was directed at conduct, not expression. The Court distinguished the R.A.V. case by explaining that the St. Paul ordinance was impermissibly aimed at expression. The primary purpose of the St. Paul ordinance was to punish specifically the placement of certain symbols on property. This violated the rule against content-based speech legislation. The Wisconsin law, by contrast, merely allowed increased sentences based on motivation, which is always a legitimate consideration in determining a criminal sentence.

Some states have mandated that a jury decide whether a defendant was motivated by bias, while others have authorized the trial judge to decide bias motivation. In Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 120 S. Ct. 2348, 147 L. Ed. 2d 435 (2000), the U.S. Supreme Court examined a New Jersey statute that gave judges the power to decide bias. The Court ruled this practice unconstitutional, requiring that a jury decide the issue based on the reasonable-doubt standard of proof.

Vineland, New Jersey, police arrested Charles C. Apprendi Jr. in December 1994 after he fired eight shots into the home of an AfricanAmerican family in his otherwise all-white neighborhood. No one was injured in the shooting, and Apprendi admitted that he had fired the shots. In his confession, he told police that he had wanted to send a message to the black family that they did not belong in his neighborhood. Later, however, Apprendi claimed that police had pressured him into making that statement. He contended that he had had no racial motivation for the shooting but rather fired into the house when its purple front door attracted his attention.

Apprendi pleaded guilty to a firearms charge and to having processed a bomb in his house. Although the offenses carried a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, the prosecutor invoked the New Jersey hate-crime law and asked that the judge increase the sentence. The judge agreed and imposed a 12-year prison term, stating that prosecutors had shown, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Apprendi’s act had been racially motivated. Apprendi appealed the sentence, arguing that he could be given such an enhanced sentence only if prosecutors presented evidence to a jury that proved, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, that he had fired the weapon out of racial bias. The prosecutor contended that the hate-crime law punished motive, which has been regarded as a sentencing issue for the judge to resolve.

The U.S. Supreme Court, on a 54 vote, reversed the New Jersey Supreme Court and found the hate-crime provision to be unconstitutional. Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority, stated that any factor, except for a prior conviction, “that increases the maximum penalty for a crime must be charged in an indictment, submitted to a jury, and proven beyond a reasonable doubt.” Justice Stevens based the Court’s decision on the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause and the Sixth Amendment’s right to trial by a jury. Taken together, these two provisions entitle a criminal defendant to a jury determination that “he is guilty of every element of the crime, with which he is charged, beyond a reasonable doubt. Although judges do have the right to exercise discretion in sentencing, they must comply with sentencing provisions contained in state criminal statutes. Justice Stevens noted the “novelty of the scheme that removes the jury from the determination of a fact that exposes the defendant to a penalty exceeding the maximum he could receive if punished according to the facts reflected in the jury verdict alone.”

The subject of cross burning returned to the U.S. Supreme Court again in Virginia v. Black, 538 U.S. 343, 123 S. Ct. 1536, 155 L. Ed. 2d 535 (2003). The Court, in a ruling aimed primarily at the Ku Klux Klan, upheld a Virginia statute that made it a felony to burn a cross “on the property of another, a highway or other public placewith the intent of intimidating any person or group.” The 6-3 decision meant that the state could prosecute and convict two white men who had burned a four-foot-high cross in the backyard of an African-American family. The family moved away after the incident. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, in her majority opinion, held that the context of the cross burning determined whether it could be protected as constitutionally protected political speech. The First Amendment would protect a cross burning at a political rally, but it would not protect what had occurred in this case, which was criminal intimidation.

Hate-crime laws complicate the work of police officers by requiring them not only to capture criminals and to investigate their criminal acts, but also to conduct a broad investigation of their personal life to determine whether a crime was motivated by prejudice. This determination can be difficult to make, and most laws offer little assistance in defining motivation.

The extra investigative work required by hate-crime laws also touches on privacy issues and the boundaries of police investigations. Defendants who have been accused of a hate crime may have their home and workplace searched for information on group memberships, personal and public writings, and reading lists, and for other personal information that may have been inadmissible at trial before the advent of the hate-crime statute.

Advocates of hate-crime laws concede that those laws do not root out all hate crimes, but they note that no Criminal Law is completely effective. They also contend that the difficulty in determining prejudiced motivation is no different from the difficulty that judges and juries face every day in determining whether the evidence presented in a case supports the charge. Supporters dismiss free speech and privacy concerns by reminding detractors that protections for such categories of rights regularly give way when public safety requires their restriction. According to advocates of hate-crime laws, fighting hatred and prejudice is an important government function, especially when hatred and prejudice motivate victimization.

Bell, Jeannine. 2002. Policing Hatred: Law Enforcement, Civil Rights, and Hate Crime. New York: New York Univ. Press.

Fine, David R. 1994.”Beware That False First Step.” Kentucky Law Journal 82.

Gaumer, Craig P. 1994. “Punishment for Prejudice: A Commentary on the Constitutionality and Utility of State Statutory Responses to the Problem of Hate Crimes.” South Dakota Law Review 39.

Grattet, Ryken, and Valerie Jenness. 2001. “Examining the Boundaries of Hate Crime Law: Disabilities and the ‘Dilemma of Difference.'”Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 91 (spring): 653.

Iganski, Paul, ed. 2002. The Hate Debate: Should Hate be Punished as a Crime? London: Profile Books in association with the Institute for Jewish Policy Research

Jacobs, James B. 1993. “Implementing Hate Crime Legislation Symbolism and Crime Control.” In Annual Survey of American Law, 19921993.

Kahan, Dan M. 2001. “Two Liberal Fallacies in the Hate Crimes Debate.” Law and Philosophy 20 (March): 17593.

Zwerling, Martin S. 1995. “Legislating against Hate in New York: Bias Crimes and the Lesbian and Gay Community.” Touro Law Review 11 (winter).

Criminal Law; Freedom of Speech; Motive; Prejudice.

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Hate crime surged in England and Wales after terrorist …

A sustained four-month spike in hate crime after this years terrorist attacks peaked at a higher level than that following last years EU referendum, according to Home Office figures.

Hate crime offences recorded by the police rose by a record 29% to 80,393 incidents in the 12 months to March 2017, according to Home Office figures published on Tuesday.

The Home Office said the figures showed a spike in hate crime in England and Wales following the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack on 22 March as well as in the aftermath of the referendum in June 2016.

Provisional police figures show that the number of crimes, which increased after the Westminster Bridge attack, continued to climb until June as the Manchester Arena, London Bridge and Finsbury Park attacks followed.

The number of hate crime incidents recorded by the police reached a record monthly level of 6,000 incidents in June. This peak was higher than the previous monthly peak of 5,500 in July 2016 seen in the aftermath of the EU referendum.

The 29% increase in the annual figure is the largest rise since the official hate crime figures started to be published five years ago. Home Office statisticians said the increase was thought to reflect both a genuine rise in hate crime and ongoing improvements in crime recording by the police.

Race was deemed to be a motivating factor in nearly 80% of recorded hate crime incidents 62,685 incidents. Sexual orientation was a factor in 9,157 or 11% of incidents, with religious hate crime accounting for 5,940 or 7%.

A further 5,558 were recorded as disability hate crimes and 1,248 were deemed to be motivated by transgender hate. The Home Office said the proportions summed to more than 100% as it was possible for a hate crime offence to have more than one motivating factor.

Analysis of provisional daily data supplied by 38 police forces to the Home Office national data hub between April 2016 and August 2017 showed a spike in daily hate crime after the Greater Manchester attack on 22 May.

The level of offences decreased in the following days, but again increased with the London Bridge and Borough Market attacks on the 3 June 2017. This pattern is again repeated with the Finsbury Park attack on the 19 June 2017, reports the Home Office bulletin.

Figures tracking the outcome of the 80,393 offences recorded to the police in 2016-17 show that only 16% of flagged offences led to somebody being charged or summonsed for the incident.

The shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, said the rise in hate crime was unacceptable, especially after a drop in the number of police referrals has seen a fall in prosecutions.

The Tories have made great claims about tackling burning injustices. But they are clearly not tackling the great injustice of being attacked simply because of your religion, your sexuality, the colour of your skin or your disability, she said.

The home secretary, Amber Rudd, agreed there was absolutely no place for hate crime in Britain but said the government was taking action to tackle it. She said: I am heartened that more victims are more confident to come forward and report incidents of hate crime, and that police identification and recording of all crime is improving.

But no one in Britain should have to suffer violent prejudice, and indications that there was a genuine rise in the number of offences immediately following each of this years terror attacks is undoubtedly concerning.

The Home Office said it was spending 2.4m on protecting places of worship, a further 1m for vulnerable faith institutions and 900,000 to support community projects.

The Crown Prosecution Service published data on Tuesday showing record numbers of tougher hate crime sentences being passed by the courts. Sentences in more than half of cases 6,300 involving hostility on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender activity increased because of this factor.

However, the overall number of the number of hate crime prosecutions was down from 15,542 in 2015-16 to 14,480 in 2016-17, while the number of cases referred to prosecutors increased slightly from 12,997 to 13,086.

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Defining Hate Crimes (Fronteras) | Not in Our Town

This is a background piece on the meaning of a “hate crime” in the five-part series published by our public media partners at Fronteras.

Defining Hate Crimes

ByJude Joffe-Block

PHOENIX This week we launch our five-part Fronteras Desk series,The Search For Tolerance. Five reporters in five cities checked on the ways that communities are trying to prevent hate crimes. The stories air on several public radio stations in the Southwest this week.

But as communities work to prevent hate, a question often arises when some form of harassment or discrimination does occur: Was that a hate crime?

During the last few decades, the vast majority of states have added hate crime laws to their books. These statutes allow longer criminal sentences if there is evidence that a crime was motivated by bias.

At a recent town meeting in thePhoenix suburb of Gilbert, concerned residents and the police chief entered into a dialogue about the legal definition of a hate crime.

Their discussion focused on the case of Felix Bermea and Roy Messerschmidt, a same-sex couple who recently moved their four foster children to a home in Gilbert, where they say they have been been harassed for the past several months. The couple has reported a break in, a phallic drawing outside their home, repeated knocking on their front door, and a fire set to the bushes on their property line.

“While legally this is not considered a hate crime, in my opinion and in the opinion of a lot of the gay community, it is a hate crime,” said concerned citizen Forrest Kruger at a community meeting on July 11. Kruger was one of several people who had heard of the Bermea-Messerschmidt family’s situation and felt the Gilbert police were not taking the harassment seriously enough. “These people are being targeted, and they have been terrorized for months now, when does it stop?”

So far, both the local chapter of theAnti-Defamation Leagueand theGilbert Police Departmenthave said there is not enough information to classify the incident as a hate crime, since the perpetrators haven’t been caught, and their intent is still unknown.

“I believe that they believe that they are being targeted because of their sexual orientation,”Gilbert Police Chief Tim Dornresponded during the meeting. “If I was in their shoes i would probably think that I was being targeted, too.”

There is no criminal charge that is a hate crime in Arizona. Instead it is a sentencing enhancer for another crime.

Dorn said his agency is investigating the crimes that occurred at the residence, such as criminal trespass in a residential structure and arson. At a later date if there is evidence that the crimes were motivated by homophobic or racist attitudes, then they could be classified as hate crimes. That would mean the perpetrators could face a longer sentence.

Michael Lieberman, a lawyer for the Anti-Defamation League, explained the rationale for these hate crime laws and accompanying harsher sentences in a2010 essay in Dissent Magazine. He wrote that while it is best to prevent hate crimes from happening in the first place, “when these crimes do occur, we must send an unmistakable message that they matter, that our society takes them very seriously.”

Which explains why emotions can run hot when there is a clash between what community members believe was a hate crime, and the legal definition according to law enforcement.

So far the fact that the recent harassment in Gilbert doesn’t necessarily constitute a hate crime isn’t preventing a town response.The Arizona Republicreportedthe town is intensifying its efforts to promote tolerance, and the police department said it would appoint a part-time diversity officer.Originally posted by Fronteras.

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The Long Game: Bannon Creates Political Coalition to Advance Populist Economic Nationalist Agenda and Smash the Establishment


Former White House strategist and current Breitbart News executive chairman Steve Bannon has teamed up with conservative donors Robert and Rebekah Mercer to promote insurgent candidates to challenge the GOP establishment and create an organizational apparatus to advance the populist and economic nationalist policies championed by those candidates.

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Steve Bannon Picks a Side in Pennsylvania Governor’s Race – TheMorning Call


In an article appearing in the Morning Call on Friday, Marc Levy writes that although President Donald Trump has yet to endorse a candidate for governor in Pennsylvania’s 2018 election, his former Chief Strategist and Breitbart Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon gave his “stamp of approval” to Republican state senator Scott Wagner, while speaking to conservatives at a gathering in St. Louis.

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CNN: Come Retribution — Bannon Recruits Populists to Take Over Senate and Put Establishment Consultants Out of Business


Former White House strategist Steve Bannon is building on the momentum from Roy Moore’s victory in the Alabama Senate runoff to recruit other populist-economic nationalist candidates to challenge Republican establishment incumbents in 2018, CNN’s Dana Bash reports.

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Republicans Try to Save Obamacare After Repeal Failure

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Instead of promising to repeal and replace Obamacare, Republicans continue to work with Chuck Schumer on legislation to bail out Obamacare.

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HHS Secretary Tom Price Resigns After Private Flights Scandal

Trump and Tom Price--collage
“I think he’s a very fine person, I certainly don’t like the optics,” Trump said

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Dem Rep Soto: Hurricane Maria ‘Has Already Become a Katrina’

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On Friday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “The Beat,” Representative Darren Soto (D-FL) stated that the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico “has already become a Katrina.” Soto said, “Well, this has already become a Katrina. We have American citizens, who pledge allegiance to our flag, serve in the military, pay taxes, and they don’t know when the power’s going to get back on. They don’t know whether they’re going to get water, whether they’re going to get food. And so, we need Trump administration to get up and act.” He added that his Katrina statement meant “That it’s an act of negligence, that they completely underestimated the scale of this, and are only now starting to react, after we stood on our desks for days screaming about the lives in jeopardy.” Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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Hate crime legal definition of hate crime – Legal Dictionary

A crime motivated by racial, religious, gender, sexual orientation, or other prejudice. Hate crimes are based, at least in part, on the defendant’s belief regarding a particular status of the victim. Hate-crime statutes were first passed by legislatures in the late 1980s and early 1990s in response to studies that indicated an increase in crimes motivated by prejudice. Approximately 30 states and the federal government have some form of hate-crime statute. Many localities have also enacted their own hate-crime ordinances. The precise definition of hate crime varies from state to state. Some states define a hate crime as any crime based on a belief regarding the victim’s race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry. Some states exclude crimes based on a belief regarding the victim’s sexual orientation. Others limit their definition to certain crimes such as harassment, assault, and damage to property. In all states, the victim’s actual status is irrelevant. For example, if a victim is attacked by someone who believes that the victim is gay, the attack is a hate crime whether or not the victim is actually gay. Generally, there are three types of hate-crime statutes. Two provide for punishment; the third type mandates only the collection of hate-crime data. One version defines a hate crime as a discrete offense and provides stiff punishment for the offense. Under Ohio’s statute, for example, any person who commits menacing, aggravated menacing, criminal damage or criminal endangerment, criminal mischief, or telephone harassment “by reason of the race, color, religion, or national origin of another person or group of persons” is guilty of the hate crime termed ethnic intimidation (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2927.12 [Baldwin 1996]). The gravity of ethnic intimidation is always one degree higher than a base offense. For example, menacing is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree, but menacing based on ethnicity is a more serious offense, classified in Ohio as a misdemeanor of the third degree. Another type of hate-crime law enhances punishment for certain offenses that are motivated by hate. In Wisconsin, for example, defendants who intentionally select their victims based at least in part on the victims’ race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry are subject to more severe penalties than they would receive in the absence of such hate-based intent (Wis. Stat. 939.645 [1995]). Thus in Wisconsin, for a class A misdemeanor based on hate, the maximum fine is $10,000, and the maximum period of imprisonment is two years in jail or prison (Wis. Stat. Ann. 939.645(2)(a)), whereas an ordinary class A misdemeanor is punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000 or up to nine months in jail, or both ( 939.51(3)(a)). For a class B misdemeanor, a less serious crime, the maximum fine is $1,000, and the maximum imprisonment is 90 days in jail. If the class B misdemeanor is a hate crime, the maximum fine is $10,000, and the maximum sentence is one year in jail. A third type of hate-crime statute simply requires the collection of statistics. At the federal level, the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990 (Pub. L. No. 101-275, 104 Stat. 140 [28 U.S.C.A. 534 (1990)]) requires the Justice Department to collect statistics on crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice. Data must be acquired for crimes based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. The purpose of the act is to provide the data necessary for Congress to develop effective policies against hate-motivated violence, to raise public awareness, and to track hate-crime trends. Laws against hate crimes might conflict with rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Generally, the First Amendment protects a citizen’s right to the free expression of thoughts. However, the courts have ruled that First Amendment rights may give way to the greater public good. For example, there is no First Amendment protection for someone who falsely yells “Fire!” in a crowded theater, because such speech endangers the safety of others. Such expression might give rise to a Disorderly Conduct charge or similar charge. In determining the constitutionality of hate-crime legislation, one primary question is whether the prohibited speech deserves First Amendment protection. In 1997, the federal government documented 9,861 hate crimes based on the victims’ religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. More than half of these crimes were motivated by racial bias, and more than 1,000 were based on sexual orientation. These statistics were illustrated in a pair of hate crimes that drew national attention. The deaths of James Byrd, Jr. and Matthew Shepard appeared to be quintessential hate crimes. Byrd was walking along a street in his Jasper, Texas, community late at night in June 1998 when he was given a ride by three white men in a pickup truck: The men beat him and chained him by his ankles (with a towing chain) to the back of their truck and dragged him for nearly three miles. Byrd was decapitated and dismembered as he was dragged behind the truck. He had been alive and conscious when it all began. All three of the perpetrators were on Parole at the time and had extensive criminal records. It was alleged that at least two of the men had affiliations with racist groups, such as the Aryan Nation and the Ku Klux Klan, and displayed white-supremacist tattoos. All three were convicted of murder, and two were sentenced to death. Mathew Shepard was a 21-year-old college student at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. On October 12, 1998, he died, in part, because he was a homosexual. On October 6, 1998, two men in their early twenties entered a local bar, where Shepard was already drinking. The men, pretending to be gay, approached Shepard who eventually left with them. The men then drove him to a deserted area, where they tied him to a fence and pistol-whipped him until his skull collapsed. They took his wallet and shoes and obtained his address so that they could rob his apartment. Shepard was discovered 18 hours later, still tied to the fence. He never regained consciousness. The pair were charged with first-degree murder, Kidnapping, and aggravated Robbery. Both men plead guilty to the charges and were sentenced to serve two consecutive life sentences, escaping a possible death sentence. The U.S. Supreme Court has been called upon to examine the constitutionality of hate-crime laws. In 1992 the Court struck down a St. Paul, Minnesota, ordinance on the ground that it violated the First Amendment (R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377, 112 S. Ct. 2538, 120 L. Ed. 2d 305 [1992]). In R.A.V. several juvenile defendants were tried and convicted after they allegedly assembled a crude, wooden cross and set it on fire in the yard of an African-American family in St. Paul. The teenagers were arrested and charged under St. Paul’s Bias-Motivated Crime Ordinance (Minn. Legis. Code 292.02). Under the ordinance, a person who placed “on public or private property a symbol, object, appellation, characterization or graffiti, including, but not limited to, a burning cross or Nazi swastika” and who had reason to know that the display would arouse anger or alarm in others based on “race, color, creed, religion or gender” was guilty of a misdemeanor. The U.S. Supreme Court’s upholding of the state “hate-crime” law in Wisconsin v. Mitchell, 508 U.S. 476, 113 S. Ct. 2194, 124 L. Ed. 2d 436 (1993), has not stopped some legal commentators from arguing that such laws violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Though these critics generally admit that hate crimes are on the rise, they believe that laws that increase the severity of punishment on the basis of the motives of the perpetrator create a dangerous precedent for government interference with freedom of expression and thought. Defenders of hate-crime laws reject these fears, claiming that the laws deal with criminal conduct and are meant to send a message that discrimination will not be tolerated. Critics of the laws have articulated a number of reasons for their opposition, some constitutional, some practical. The foremost concern is that hate-crime laws violate a person’s right to freedom of thought. These statutes enhance the penalties for conduct already punished under state law when the perpetrator is motivated by a type of bigotry the legislature finds offensive. Therefore, if a rich man assaults a Homeless Person because he hates the poor, the rich man can be charged only with assault, because the legislature has not specifically found bigotry against the poor to be offensive. However, if a man assaults an African American because he hates persons of that race, he can be charged with assault and intimidation, which carries a more severe penalty, or his sentence for assault can be increased, because the legislature has penalized a racially discriminatory motive. For the critics of hate-crime laws, this result reveals that the legislature is regulating the defendant’s thoughts, in violation of the First Amendment. Critics also charge that the focus on motive distorts the traditional rules of Criminal Law. In the past, criminal law was interested in a defendant’s mental state only to the extent that it would reveal whether the defendant had engaged in deliberate conduct. As a general rule, the motive of a crime has never been considered an element that must be proved at trial. Whether a person robbed a bank to buy food for a family or to pay back a gambling debt is considered irrelevant. The key state-of-mind question is whether the person intended to rob the bank. Some critics also ask what good the additional penalty will do for persons convicted of hate crimes. If a person is filled with prejudices, extra time spent in prison is not likely to help eradicate those beliefs; it may, in fact, reinforce them. These critics do not believe that hate-crime laws seek to deter criminal activity. They feel that instead such laws appear to seek retribution for acts of violence motivated by racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia. The critics contend the retribution model is not compatible with the modern goals of the criminal and penal systems. Another criticism is that hate-crime laws do not address deeper forces within society that create prejudice. Some social psychologists believe that prejudice and the behavior that may accompany it are caused by a combination of social, economic, and psychological conflicts. Adding more punishment for those who act on their prejudice may give the community the illusion it is dealing with the problem, but, in fact, hate-crime laws do little to help change thought and behavior. Defenders of hate-crime laws reject the idea that they are taking away anyone’s First Amendment rights. They note that in Mitchell the Supreme Court rejected as “too speculative a hypothesis” the “chilling effect” argument, which maintains that these laws chill, or inhibit, free thought and speech. The Court also cited precedent that permitted the “evidentiary use of speech to establish the elements of a crime or to prove motive or intent.” This means that persons are free to express their ideas, no matter how repugnant, but when they engage in unlawful conduct based on these beliefs, they surrender their First Amendment rights. Defenders also believe that hate-crime laws, like other criminal laws, are aimed at preventing harmful acts. The focus is not on stifling disagreeable and prejudicial beliefs or biases, but on preventing the particularly harmful effects of hate crimes. Even critics of the laws admit that hate-crime violence is often brutal and severe. Defenders argue that increasing the penalties for this type of behavior is therefore justified. Supporters of hate-crime laws point out, as did the Supreme Court in Mitchell, that most of the statutes use the same language as title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C.A. 2000e et seq.). Why, they ask, is it acceptable to penalize employment discrimination that is based on racism and bigotry, but not criminal acts based on similar biases? The courts have long upheld federal and state discrimination laws as acceptable methods of penalizing conduct and promoting nondiscriminatory practices. Intentional employment discrimination requires a person to communicate his or her bias. Supporters conclude that once a person verbalizes a prejudice and acts on it, the state is free to regulate that conduct. The trial court dismissed the charge on the grounds that it was overbroad and unconstitutionally content-based. Specifically, the court ruled that the statute criminalized too much behavior and infringed on First Amendment rights of free speech. The city of St. Paul appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which reversed the trial court’s ruling. The teenagers then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.The high court was unanimous in striking down the St. Paul ordinance. However, it was divided in its legal reasoning. According to the majority opinion, the ordinance violated the First Amendment. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, declared the statute unconstitutional because it prohibited “other-wise permitted speech solely on the basis of the subjects the speech addresses.” Scalia illustrated this point by noting that a government may proscribe libelous speech, but that it may not proscribe only libelous speech that is critical of the government. The St. Paul ordinance violated this constitutional rule by proscribing only hate speech delivered through symbols. In a separate opinion, the concurring justices argued that the majority opinion weakened previous First Amendment Jurisprudence. Specifically, the majority opinion protected fighting words, a form of speech that provokes hostile encounters and is not protected by the First Amendment. By holding that “lawmakers may not regulate some fighting words more strictly than others because of their content,” the majority had forced legislatures to criminalize all fighting words in order to legally prohibit the most dangerous ones. According to the concurring justices, the statute was merely overbroadthat is, it legitimately regulated unprotected speech, but it also impermissibly prohibited speech that can cause only hurt feelings or resentment. With more careful wording, the concurring justices argued, hate-crime laws could pass constitutional muster. However, under the Court’s majority opinion, this did not seem possible. In 1993, the Supreme Court revisited hate-crime legislation and unanimously adopted a coherent approach. In State v. Mitchell, 508 U.S. 476, 113 S. Ct. 2194, 124 L. Ed. 2d 436 (1993), Todd Mitchell, a young black man from Kenosha, Wisconsin, was convicted of aggravated Battery and received an increased sentence under the Wisconsin hate-crime statute. The incident at issue began with Mitchell asking some friends, “Do you all feel hyped up to move on some white people?” Shortly thereafter, Mitchell spotted Gregory Reddick, a 14-year-old white male, walking on the other side of the street. Mitchell then said to the group, “You all want to fuck somebody up? There goes a white boy; go get him.” The group attacked Reddick. Reddick suffered extensive injuries, including brain damage, and was comatose for four days. Mitchell appealed his conviction to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which held that the hate-crime statute violated the First Amendment. The state of Wisconsin appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which reversed the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s ruling. The high court ruled that the Wisconsin statute was constitutional because it was directed at conduct, not expression. The Court distinguished the R.A.V. case by explaining that the St. Paul ordinance was impermissibly aimed at expression. The primary purpose of the St. Paul ordinance was to punish specifically the placement of certain symbols on property. This violated the rule against content-based speech legislation. The Wisconsin law, by contrast, merely allowed increased sentences based on motivation, which is always a legitimate consideration in determining a criminal sentence. Some states have mandated that a jury decide whether a defendant was motivated by bias, while others have authorized the trial judge to decide bias motivation. In Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 120 S. Ct. 2348, 147 L. Ed. 2d 435 (2000), the U.S. Supreme Court examined a New Jersey statute that gave judges the power to decide bias. The Court ruled this practice unconstitutional, requiring that a jury decide the issue based on the reasonable-doubt standard of proof. Vineland, New Jersey, police arrested Charles C. Apprendi Jr. in December 1994 after he fired eight shots into the home of an AfricanAmerican family in his otherwise all-white neighborhood. No one was injured in the shooting, and Apprendi admitted that he had fired the shots. In his confession, he told police that he had wanted to send a message to the black family that they did not belong in his neighborhood. Later, however, Apprendi claimed that police had pressured him into making that statement. He contended that he had had no racial motivation for the shooting but rather fired into the house when its purple front door attracted his attention. Apprendi pleaded guilty to a firearms charge and to having processed a bomb in his house. Although the offenses carried a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, the prosecutor invoked the New Jersey hate-crime law and asked that the judge increase the sentence. The judge agreed and imposed a 12-year prison term, stating that prosecutors had shown, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Apprendi’s act had been racially motivated. Apprendi appealed the sentence, arguing that he could be given such an enhanced sentence only if prosecutors presented evidence to a jury that proved, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, that he had fired the weapon out of racial bias. The prosecutor contended that the hate-crime law punished motive, which has been regarded as a sentencing issue for the judge to resolve. The U.S. Supreme Court, on a 54 vote, reversed the New Jersey Supreme Court and found the hate-crime provision to be unconstitutional. Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority, stated that any factor, except for a prior conviction, “that increases the maximum penalty for a crime must be charged in an indictment, submitted to a jury, and proven beyond a reasonable doubt.” Justice Stevens based the Court’s decision on the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause and the Sixth Amendment’s right to trial by a jury. Taken together, these two provisions entitle a criminal defendant to a jury determination that “he is guilty of every element of the crime, with which he is charged, beyond a reasonable doubt. Although judges do have the right to exercise discretion in sentencing, they must comply with sentencing provisions contained in state criminal statutes. Justice Stevens noted the “novelty of the scheme that removes the jury from the determination of a fact that exposes the defendant to a penalty exceeding the maximum he could receive if punished according to the facts reflected in the jury verdict alone.” The subject of cross burning returned to the U.S. Supreme Court again in Virginia v. Black, 538 U.S. 343, 123 S. Ct. 1536, 155 L. Ed. 2d 535 (2003). The Court, in a ruling aimed primarily at the Ku Klux Klan, upheld a Virginia statute that made it a felony to burn a cross “on the property of another, a highway or other public placewith the intent of intimidating any person or group.” The 6-3 decision meant that the state could prosecute and convict two white men who had burned a four-foot-high cross in the backyard of an African-American family. The family moved away after the incident. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, in her majority opinion, held that the context of the cross burning determined whether it could be protected as constitutionally protected political speech. The First Amendment would protect a cross burning at a political rally, but it would not protect what had occurred in this case, which was criminal intimidation. Hate-crime laws complicate the work of police officers by requiring them not only to capture criminals and to investigate their criminal acts, but also to conduct a broad investigation of their personal life to determine whether a crime was motivated by prejudice. This determination can be difficult to make, and most laws offer little assistance in defining motivation. The extra investigative work required by hate-crime laws also touches on privacy issues and the boundaries of police investigations. Defendants who have been accused of a hate crime may have their home and workplace searched for information on group memberships, personal and public writings, and reading lists, and for other personal information that may have been inadmissible at trial before the advent of the hate-crime statute. Advocates of hate-crime laws concede that those laws do not root out all hate crimes, but they note that no Criminal Law is completely effective. They also contend that the difficulty in determining prejudiced motivation is no different from the difficulty that judges and juries face every day in determining whether the evidence presented in a case supports the charge. Supporters dismiss free speech and privacy concerns by reminding detractors that protections for such categories of rights regularly give way when public safety requires their restriction. According to advocates of hate-crime laws, fighting hatred and prejudice is an important government function, especially when hatred and prejudice motivate victimization. Bell, Jeannine. 2002. Policing Hatred: Law Enforcement, Civil Rights, and Hate Crime. New York: New York Univ. Press. Fine, David R. 1994.”Beware That False First Step.” Kentucky Law Journal 82. Gaumer, Craig P. 1994. “Punishment for Prejudice: A Commentary on the Constitutionality and Utility of State Statutory Responses to the Problem of Hate Crimes.” South Dakota Law Review 39. Grattet, Ryken, and Valerie Jenness. 2001. “Examining the Boundaries of Hate Crime Law: Disabilities and the ‘Dilemma of Difference.'”Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 91 (spring): 653. Iganski, Paul, ed. 2002. The Hate Debate: Should Hate be Punished as a Crime? London: Profile Books in association with the Institute for Jewish Policy Research Jacobs, James B. 1993. “Implementing Hate Crime Legislation Symbolism and Crime Control.” In Annual Survey of American Law, 19921993. Kahan, Dan M. 2001. “Two Liberal Fallacies in the Hate Crimes Debate.” Law and Philosophy 20 (March): 17593. Zwerling, Martin S. 1995. “Legislating against Hate in New York: Bias Crimes and the Lesbian and Gay Community.” Touro Law Review 11 (winter). Criminal Law; Freedom of Speech; Motive; Prejudice.

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Hate crime surged in England and Wales after terrorist …

A sustained four-month spike in hate crime after this years terrorist attacks peaked at a higher level than that following last years EU referendum, according to Home Office figures. Hate crime offences recorded by the police rose by a record 29% to 80,393 incidents in the 12 months to March 2017, according to Home Office figures published on Tuesday. The Home Office said the figures showed a spike in hate crime in England and Wales following the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack on 22 March as well as in the aftermath of the referendum in June 2016. Provisional police figures show that the number of crimes, which increased after the Westminster Bridge attack, continued to climb until June as the Manchester Arena, London Bridge and Finsbury Park attacks followed. The number of hate crime incidents recorded by the police reached a record monthly level of 6,000 incidents in June. This peak was higher than the previous monthly peak of 5,500 in July 2016 seen in the aftermath of the EU referendum. The 29% increase in the annual figure is the largest rise since the official hate crime figures started to be published five years ago. Home Office statisticians said the increase was thought to reflect both a genuine rise in hate crime and ongoing improvements in crime recording by the police. Race was deemed to be a motivating factor in nearly 80% of recorded hate crime incidents 62,685 incidents. Sexual orientation was a factor in 9,157 or 11% of incidents, with religious hate crime accounting for 5,940 or 7%. A further 5,558 were recorded as disability hate crimes and 1,248 were deemed to be motivated by transgender hate. The Home Office said the proportions summed to more than 100% as it was possible for a hate crime offence to have more than one motivating factor. Analysis of provisional daily data supplied by 38 police forces to the Home Office national data hub between April 2016 and August 2017 showed a spike in daily hate crime after the Greater Manchester attack on 22 May. The level of offences decreased in the following days, but again increased with the London Bridge and Borough Market attacks on the 3 June 2017. This pattern is again repeated with the Finsbury Park attack on the 19 June 2017, reports the Home Office bulletin. Figures tracking the outcome of the 80,393 offences recorded to the police in 2016-17 show that only 16% of flagged offences led to somebody being charged or summonsed for the incident. The shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, said the rise in hate crime was unacceptable, especially after a drop in the number of police referrals has seen a fall in prosecutions. The Tories have made great claims about tackling burning injustices. But they are clearly not tackling the great injustice of being attacked simply because of your religion, your sexuality, the colour of your skin or your disability, she said. The home secretary, Amber Rudd, agreed there was absolutely no place for hate crime in Britain but said the government was taking action to tackle it. She said: I am heartened that more victims are more confident to come forward and report incidents of hate crime, and that police identification and recording of all crime is improving. But no one in Britain should have to suffer violent prejudice, and indications that there was a genuine rise in the number of offences immediately following each of this years terror attacks is undoubtedly concerning. The Home Office said it was spending 2.4m on protecting places of worship, a further 1m for vulnerable faith institutions and 900,000 to support community projects. The Crown Prosecution Service published data on Tuesday showing record numbers of tougher hate crime sentences being passed by the courts. Sentences in more than half of cases 6,300 involving hostility on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender activity increased because of this factor. However, the overall number of the number of hate crime prosecutions was down from 15,542 in 2015-16 to 14,480 in 2016-17, while the number of cases referred to prosecutors increased slightly from 12,997 to 13,086.

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Defining Hate Crimes (Fronteras) | Not in Our Town

This is a background piece on the meaning of a “hate crime” in the five-part series published by our public media partners at Fronteras. Defining Hate Crimes ByJude Joffe-Block PHOENIX This week we launch our five-part Fronteras Desk series,The Search For Tolerance. Five reporters in five cities checked on the ways that communities are trying to prevent hate crimes. The stories air on several public radio stations in the Southwest this week. But as communities work to prevent hate, a question often arises when some form of harassment or discrimination does occur: Was that a hate crime? During the last few decades, the vast majority of states have added hate crime laws to their books. These statutes allow longer criminal sentences if there is evidence that a crime was motivated by bias. At a recent town meeting in thePhoenix suburb of Gilbert, concerned residents and the police chief entered into a dialogue about the legal definition of a hate crime. Their discussion focused on the case of Felix Bermea and Roy Messerschmidt, a same-sex couple who recently moved their four foster children to a home in Gilbert, where they say they have been been harassed for the past several months. The couple has reported a break in, a phallic drawing outside their home, repeated knocking on their front door, and a fire set to the bushes on their property line. “While legally this is not considered a hate crime, in my opinion and in the opinion of a lot of the gay community, it is a hate crime,” said concerned citizen Forrest Kruger at a community meeting on July 11. Kruger was one of several people who had heard of the Bermea-Messerschmidt family’s situation and felt the Gilbert police were not taking the harassment seriously enough. “These people are being targeted, and they have been terrorized for months now, when does it stop?” So far, both the local chapter of theAnti-Defamation Leagueand theGilbert Police Departmenthave said there is not enough information to classify the incident as a hate crime, since the perpetrators haven’t been caught, and their intent is still unknown. “I believe that they believe that they are being targeted because of their sexual orientation,”Gilbert Police Chief Tim Dornresponded during the meeting. “If I was in their shoes i would probably think that I was being targeted, too.” There is no criminal charge that is a hate crime in Arizona. Instead it is a sentencing enhancer for another crime. Dorn said his agency is investigating the crimes that occurred at the residence, such as criminal trespass in a residential structure and arson. At a later date if there is evidence that the crimes were motivated by homophobic or racist attitudes, then they could be classified as hate crimes. That would mean the perpetrators could face a longer sentence. Michael Lieberman, a lawyer for the Anti-Defamation League, explained the rationale for these hate crime laws and accompanying harsher sentences in a2010 essay in Dissent Magazine. He wrote that while it is best to prevent hate crimes from happening in the first place, “when these crimes do occur, we must send an unmistakable message that they matter, that our society takes them very seriously.” Which explains why emotions can run hot when there is a clash between what community members believe was a hate crime, and the legal definition according to law enforcement. So far the fact that the recent harassment in Gilbert doesn’t necessarily constitute a hate crime isn’t preventing a town response.The Arizona Republicreportedthe town is intensifying its efforts to promote tolerance, and the police department said it would appoint a part-time diversity officer.Originally posted by Fronteras.

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The Long Game: Bannon Creates Political Coalition to Advance Populist Economic Nationalist Agenda and Smash the Establishment

Former White House strategist and current Breitbart News executive chairman Steve Bannon has teamed up with conservative donors Robert and Rebekah Mercer to promote insurgent candidates to challenge the GOP establishment and create an organizational apparatus to advance the populist and economic nationalist policies championed by those candidates.

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Steve Bannon Picks a Side in Pennsylvania Governor’s Race – TheMorning Call

In an article appearing in the Morning Call on Friday, Marc Levy writes that although President Donald Trump has yet to endorse a candidate for governor in Pennsylvania’s 2018 election, his former Chief Strategist and Breitbart Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon gave his “stamp of approval” to Republican state senator Scott Wagner, while speaking to conservatives at a gathering in St. Louis.

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CNN: Come Retribution — Bannon Recruits Populists to Take Over Senate and Put Establishment Consultants Out of Business

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon is building on the momentum from Roy Moore’s victory in the Alabama Senate runoff to recruit other populist-economic nationalist candidates to challenge Republican establishment incumbents in 2018, CNN’s Dana Bash reports.

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Republicans Try to Save Obamacare After Repeal Failure

Instead of promising to repeal and replace Obamacare, Republicans continue to work with Chuck Schumer on legislation to bail out Obamacare.

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HHS Secretary Tom Price Resigns After Private Flights Scandal

“I think he’s a very fine person, I certainly don’t like the optics,” Trump said

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Dem Rep Soto: Hurricane Maria ‘Has Already Become a Katrina’

On Friday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “The Beat,” Representative Darren Soto (D-FL) stated that the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico “has already become a Katrina.” Soto said, “Well, this has already become a Katrina. We have American citizens, who pledge allegiance to our flag, serve in the military, pay taxes, and they don’t know when the power’s going to get back on. They don’t know whether they’re going to get water, whether they’re going to get food. And so, we need Trump administration to get up and act.” He added that his Katrina statement meant “That it’s an act of negligence, that they completely underestimated the scale of this, and are only now starting to react, after we stood on our desks for days screaming about the lives in jeopardy.” Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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