Race or Rage? Attacks in Memphis and Springfield Again Prompt Objections Over The Enforcement of Hate Crimes

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 8.30.09 AMThere are renewed questions about how the line is drawn between hate crimes and conventional criminal cases this week after a group of black teens beat a white Kroger employee into unconsciousness as part of a “fan mob.” We recently discussed similar objections in the Utash case where a group of black men also beat a white driver to death. Critics are comparing these and other cases to the rapid deployment of federal lawyers and investigators in the Fergusan case and the recent opening of a civil rights investigation as a possible hate crime. However, the distinction in this case is that police have noted that there was an African American victim even though you can hear references to the race of the first victim. The controversy is only the latest over the use of hate crime charges and how the line is drawn in launching investigations into racial elements of certain crimes. The distinction between race or rage as a motivating element can be difficult to discern in criminal cases.

The brutal attack occurred on Saturday night when a mob of black teens swarmed a Kroger grocery store in Memphis, Tennessee and proceeded to beat two store employees and one customer to the ground. The group had emerged from a restaurant in the same strip mall and immediately attacked a 25-year-old man as he left his car in the parking lot and headed for the grocery store. When two store employees ran to the man’s aide, the black teens brutally beat them as well while he can hear people cheering and laughing.

Some people were upset by the refusal to investigate the matter as a hate crime and the response of Memphis Police Department Director Toney Armstrong who called the video “extremely troubling to see how many young people were involved, especially on the heels of last week’s youth forum . . . Last night’s events clearly demonstrates a lack of parental controls and if warranted these parents will also be held accountable.” The refusal to even investigate the racial element to the crime angered many viewers of the video, but police insist that this was more of a thrill attack than a race attack.

1410173174000-springfield-attackThe difference in cases however can be hard to discern from such videos. For example, the same double standard criticism was raised with another video that went viral this week of a white couple being brutally attacked by a group of African Americans. An assault in downtown Springfield Missouri was called a hate crime against Meredith J. Cole, 19, and Alex J. Vessey, 23, who suffered serious injuries after they were assaulted by six black males. However, Cole herself on a Facebook page says the attack was not racially motivated. Indeed, she admits to uses the n-word after the attack in anger. The video is shown here.

The issue for some is the absence of an investigation in cases like the Kroger attack for hate crime as was the case in other attacks like the earlier controversy in Baltimore or recent “knockout game” cases. I believe that there are good faith distinctions to be drawn in these cases, particularly in Springfield. However, there remains an uncertain line in defining certain crimes as hate crimes while others as conventional crimes. It is a charge that has long concerned civil libertarians due to its ambiguity in some cases. The issue for critics is not whether these cases should be defined as hate crime but whether the crime allows for too much discretion and subjectivity when these crimes could be simply charged as serious felonies in their own right. Yet, these laws were intended to address cases where the victims were singled out due to their racial or religious or sexual orientation characteristics — a clearly worthy goal. The greater problem has proven the gradual expansion of hate speech charges as opposed to hate crimes and the impact on free speech. Despite the outcry in these controversies, I think that these two cases have a plausible distinction that it was not race but anger or raw mayhem that characterized the attacks.

You can judge for yourself. You can find the Kroger video: here or here

57 thoughts on “Race or Rage? Attacks in Memphis and Springfield Again Prompt Objections Over The Enforcement of Hate Crimes”

  1. Massive rapid immigration by proclamation and constitutional amendment without a quorum, with half the states under duress, ceases to be “immigration,” is unconstitutional and antithetical. Well aware of the nation’s history and dilemma of slavery, Lincoln planned accordingly for repatriation, knowing that freed slaves were not citizens and Jefferson admonished against “rapid population growth” through “great importations of foreigners.”

    Who’s running this country?

    Certainly not Lincoln or Jefferson.

    Thomas Jefferson

    “The first consideration in immigration is the welfare of the receiving nation. In a new government based on principles unfamiliar to the rest of the world and resting on the sentiments of the people themselves, the influx of a large number of new immigrants unaccustomed to the government of a free society could be detrimental to that society. Immigration, therefore, must be approached carefully and cautiously.”

    Too Rapid Growth by Immigration

    Thomas Jefferson

    “[Is] rapid population [growth] by as great importations of foreigners as possible… founded in good policy?… They will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth; or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty. These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their number, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its direction, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass… If they come of themselves, they are entitled to all the rights of citizenship: but I doubt the expediency of inviting them by extraordinary encouragements.”

    –Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.VIII, 1782. ME 2:118

  2. This was a good thread. It is an emotional topic but the commenters have been substantive. There is a new entry that could change that. I would urge all to IGNORE people who attempt to sabotage this, or any thread. It is difficult but it’s the only way. Just don’t read the comments, that’s the best way.

  3. Jack

    The KKK has approximately 8,000 members, and is classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Total Caucasian population in the United States is 223,500,000 (71% of the U.S. population). In other words, the KKK represents .0036% of the U.S. Caucasian population.

    The Nation of Islam has approximately 50,000 members, and is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Total African American population in the U.S. is 45,000,000 (14.3% of the U.S. population). That means .11% of the African American population are members of a hate group known as the Nation of Islam.

    By total numbers and as a percentage of the African American and U.S. population, you are much more likely to run into a member of the Nation of Islam than you are a member of the KKK.
    ==============================
    That depends on how you answer the question “Are you a member of the KKK?”

    They don’t swear to secrecy and wear hoods because they want to let everyone know they are racists.

    It is just that they know better than to be racists but for some reason can’t help themsleves.

    That is how dementia works Jack.

    1. AY – which incivility did you point out, exactly, since there are several above.

  4. Did Lincoln endorse “multiculturalism?”

    Who, what insidious force, compels Americans to lower themselves and elevate “multiculturalism,” better known as the artifice, affirmative action.

    The brilliant and celebrated Abraham Lincoln was always right. He killed 1 million Americans. There stands a Memorial in a National Park for him. Lincoln could not be wrong.

    Abraham Lincoln –

    “I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

    Is Lincoln right or are the milquetoast, guilt-ridden psychobabbling “civil rights” “multiculturalists” right?

    America needs to know who is right.

    Next thing you know, America will be deeding the country back to the Indians.

  5. The KKK has approximately 8,000 members, and is classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Total Caucasian population in the United States is 223,500,000 (71% of the U.S. population). In other words, the KKK represents .0036% of the U.S. Caucasian population.

    The Nation of Islam has approximately 50,000 members, and is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Total African American population in the U.S. is 45,000,000 (14.3% of the U.S. population). That means .11% of the African American population are members of a hate group known as the Nation of Islam.

    By total numbers and as a percentage of the African American and U.S. population, you are much more likely to run into a member of the Nation of Islam than you are a member of the KKK.

  6. Lincoln on “hate crimes?”

    “The Great Emancipator”

    Lincoln v Douglas Debate

    Many people accepted the rumors spread by Douglas supporters that Lincoln favored social equality of the races. Before the start of the September 18 debate at Charleston, Illinois, an elderly man approached Lincoln in a hotel and asked him if the stories were true. Recounting the encounter later before a crowd of 15,000, Lincoln declared:

    “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races; I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people.”

    He continued:

    “I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

    *****************************************************************************************

    I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is physical difference between the two which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.

  7. “Hate crime” law is a waste of time and money. It is yet another unwarranted guilt spasm. A sop to the ostensibly persecuted. Woe is me!

    The lowest common denominator is the crime itself. At the point of the crime, the intent has no bearing.

    The next category of “hate crime” victims may be politicians or blondes.

    Law is not politics and politics is not law.

    Affirmative action and hate crime law are bias and racism.

    American freedom through self reliance is based on neutrality without bias, understanding that all men are created equal, not the outcome of their lives.

  8. Wouldn’t this statute apply in ALL cases?

    18 U.S. Code § 241 – Conspiracy against rights

    “If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured—

    They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.”

  9. Glen:

    I’ll bet they didn’t have any problems. I remember that riot. A lot of stores burned. There was a lot of violence, and the police were spread too thin to sit there in front of stores and protect them, or houses, for that matter. It was like a war zone. Or that movie The Purge.

    I remember that riot well. I stayed with my mom because my dad had to leave to go overseas. He and I cleaned guns and went over ammo before he left. But we never had any trouble in our neighborhood, thank goodness. Because I certainly would not have sat on my hands and waited on hold with 911 if a mob tried to hurt my mom.

    It is interesting how the newscasters, safe in their studios, criticized the people defending the store – wondering if the guns were legal, etc. But if rioters were burning their own neighborhoods, what would they be willing to do to defend their families and their jobs? What if riots meant that they could lose their jobs and go bankrupt? Lose everything. Because that’s what looting does to shop owners. I’ll bet the shop owner had similar people guarding his home and his precious family. A major argument for the 2nd Amendment is the right to self defense. This video illustrates how the police cannot help you during a disaster like a riot. You’re on your own.

  10. slohrss:

    “As said earlier, isn’t it just time to judge the crime for what it is?? Guilty of beating someone is just plain guilty of beating someone.”

    Good point. In the Jim Crow days, crimes against blacks were never prosecuted. But that is not the case anymore. We are more than the basal melanin concentration of our skin.

  11. I don’t understand the concept of classifying crimes by anything other than the objective infringement of unalienable rights. Whether I’m alone or with a mob and decide to pummel someone, the moment I make the conscious choice and violate this person’s rights does not need further qualification of whether I “hated” the person or not. I will have demonstrated the only thing that should matter, I had no respect for the rights of another person, PERIOD.

  12. David:

    “I’ve never heard anyone (but you) suggest that any one group should be exempt from hate crimes, have you?”

    Actually, Professor Turley himself referred to the double standard, and the criticism that hoards of lawyers descend on Ferguson, while they fail to even investigate the possibility of a hate crime when the victims are white.

    “Polar Bearing” is a hate crime where the target is white, the more defenseless the better.

    I am actually divided about hate crime laws. The KKK terrorized blacks with their crimes. Laws against hate crimes were enacted to prevent this from recurring. And yet, I cannot help but feel that the families of murder victims should receive equal justice, regardless of the sexual orientation, race, or creed of their beloved, lost family member, or the tool used to kill them. Should a murderer get less time in prison if he used a knife, rather than a gun, even though the death was slower and more painful? Should he get less time if his victim was white instead of black? Shouldn’t victims be “worth” the same?

    Part of me wants the law to be equal – just a set punishment for each crime, with modifiers for extenuating circumstances. If that was the case, then “polar bearing”, as well as similar assaults against African Americans would be prosecuted as assault. The crimes would not be tolerated, because they are still against the law. But as Professor Turley has pointed out, the application of hate crime laws appears to be biased. And that is unjust.

    Otherwise, if we are going to pursue hate crimes, then they need to be equal – anyone targeted for their religion, politics, sexual orientation, or ethnicity would all constitute hate crimes. Because it is unfair and unjust to allow hate crimes against whites, but disallow it against blacks. To allow them against Christians, but disallow it against Jewish people. Brian Stowe was viciously attacked, and suffered permanent severe brain damage, because he was wearing the jersey of a visiting sports team. He will live out the rest of his life in a care facility. That was a hate crime – terrorizing fans of opposing sports teams.

    So do we want to make hate crimes equal, or do we want to simply apply the law pertaining to violence, without what could be myriad and subjective hate modifiers?

  13. @slohrss29

    You said, “Can we ever get past trying to to account for circumstances of the perpetrators for this type of thing? It doesn’t serve anyone.

    Huh??? Of course it serves some one. The Democratic Party uses race baiting to stir up black voters, and it works! Why do you think all the race baiters and their enablers jumped on the Trayvon Martin silliness??? Or the recent incident in Ferguson.

    However, when white people are the victims, that does not serve the Democratic Party’s agenda. That is why Eric Holder is nowhere to be found when somebody “gets whitey.”

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  14. Just get rid of hate crime laws. They won’t be used in any kind of uniform way, and they are punishing thought over action. Two white guys beating up a black guy gets an extra 10 years. Two white guys beating up a white guy and they get a break? How’s that equal protection?

  15. As said earlier, isn’t it just time to judge the crime for what it is?? Guilty of beating someone is just plain guilty of beating someone. Can we ever get past trying to to account for circumstances of the perpetrators for this type of thing? It doesn’t serve anyone.

  16. Ask a question. What could possibly go wrong?

    East coast NYC 1995…..Rev. Al Sharpton Incited a Massacre at Freddy’s Fashion Mart:

    As he has done so often in his life, Al Sharpton turned this non-racial economic dispute into a racial conflict.

    The Sharpton-led protests began in August and came to a head on the morning of Friday, December 8th when Roland James Smith, Jr., who had been part of the Sharpton’s protests,
    walked into Freddy’s Fashion Mart, pulled out a gun, ordered all the black customers to leave, spilled paint thinner on several bins of clothing and set them on fire — a fire that resulted in killing 7 people plus Smith.

  17. Stupid people do stupid things. You’re not gonna stop stupid.

    Why not charge thieves with hate crimes…. I’ve read where someone stupid has said a I hate that guy because he has more than I do, or he can afford to lose it…. The essence of these folks rational is stupidity..

    Generally when you think you hate someone look inside because that hate is you.

  18. @ Glen. LOL on the video. I remember those times. It seems the media hasn’t changed in 20 some years. Clueless. Worrying about whether the guns are registered. Unable to discern between shotguns and Uzis. Wondering why there are no looters on the street in Korea town and speculating that ….gee wiz….the curfew must be working. It couldn’t possibly be that the Koreans are armed to the teeth, won’t cower down and let themselves be run over by the mobs of looters??. Nope. It must be the curfew.

    Also…worrying about the police and guard thinking that they are concerned about the Koreans. The police were relieved. One less hot spot for them to have to police since the Koreans were doing a good job all on their own.

    BTW: Love the cars, doors open, lights on barricade. Very smart.

  19. The post should be corrected. Steven Utash is very much alive.
    Utash’s life was saved by a black woman.
    And there were plenty of local black writers who felt that some of the sentences handed down in the Utash case were lighter than they should have been.

Comments are closed.