Bias-Fueled Ticking Time Bombs
The average American is not vaguely aware that something lurks in the shadows of society waiting to devour its next victim.
Hate crime is an offense committed against a person or property which is motivated by bias against race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender identity or disability. Although the act of hate in of itself is not an offense, the action derived from that hate is.
The majority of hate crimes in America are directed towards Jews, Muslims and the LGBT community.
The unstaggering incidents of hate crimes toppled in 2016 at an unwavering count of 6,100 incidents. That does not take into account the ones that went unreported. Nearly 6 out of 10 victims were targeted due to race or ethnicity.
Types of Hate Crimes
There are five types of hate crimes.
- Sexual Orientation
Reasons Hate Crimes Are Committed
Seeking a Thrill
Driven by the need for excitement or drama, typically young men who are bored or drunk preys on innocent victims for a biased-target reason against race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Seventy percent of “thrill seeking” hate crimes were assaults. Victims were chosen at random.
Hate crime attackers perceive themselves as the “defender” of territory such as neighborhoods, workplace, religious establishment or in militaristic defense of country. These “defenders” often has a targeted victim. Events can trigger an attack. Little or no remorse is evident in the attacker.
The attacker perceives themselves as the “avenger” acting alone with specific targets of someone related to racial, ethnic or religious causes.
Offenders that are “mission-minded” are the most dangerous and deadliest. They consider themselves crusaders working for the cause of race or religion. Often linked to groups sharing the same opinions towards race, they will tend to target groups or sites that have a significant symbolic presence. Their goal is to “maximize the carnage.”
Silence Results from Fear
Many fail to report hate crimes because of fear of retribution from the attacker or related groups. The unease within our nation fuels the fire behind groups and individuals who prey on innocent people.
The victims of these crimes endure paralyzing fear while it rocks the whole community. Ultimately, society’s sense of security is weakened. Hate crimes strike at the victim’s core identity while compromising the sense of belonging.
The War Against Hate Crimes
More than 1,600 extremist groups are scattered across America. The fight to extinguish hate and extremism proves difficult as the resurging presence of groups of the past reform. A few well-known groups that are gaining strength and members nationwide are the KKK, Aryan Nations, and White Aryan Resistance.
A Hate Crime that Changed History
Matthew Shepard arrived in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998 where he would attend The University of Wyoming. Visiting a local pub one evening he had an encounter with two men. It was these two men that tied Matthew to a fence, beat him and left him to die. They targeted Matthew because of his sexual orientation.
At Matthew’s funeral was the notorious Westboro Baptist Church protesters holding picket signs with homophobic slander. The group shouted anti-gay rhetoric to the funeral attendees.
In 2009, The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into law by President Obama. This Act gives the Department of Justice power needed to not only investigate hate crimes but to prosecute bias-motivated hate crimes against LGBT victims.
If you see a hate crime or suspect one, it is important to report it. You stepping forward could be the very thing that saves someone’s life!
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