November Hate Crimes Watch: Real Crimes, Real Victims

December 13, 2011Noah Baron

Larry King, 15, was killed by a classmate for being gay.

In 2009, there was an average of 11,125 violent hate crime attacks per month. But when considering the issue of hate crimes as a matter of public policy, it is easy to lose oneself in the statistics and forget about the very real people who are impacted. The four stories covered in this post are only a few of the all too many hate crimes which took place in the last month and occur on a regular basis. I hope the following stories, however, will be able to put faces, and names, to some of the thousands of Americans who are targeted merely for being themselves.
  1. Two teenage boys were arrested and charged last week with first-degree burglary, second-degree theft, and malicious harassment as a hate crime in connection with a November attack at another teenager’s home. The two boys allegedly broke into the third teenager’s apartment and stole his laptop computer and iPod because, according to one of the suspects, the victim is gay. According to police, the victim was found covered in blood, and blood was found inside and outside the victim’s home.
  2. Last week, a 15-year-old boy in Winnipeg, Canada, was arrested in connection with a mid-November attack on one of his fellow students. Police allege that the boy confronted the other student, a 14-year-old Jewish girl, in the hallway toward the end of the school day, began yelling anti-Semitic comments at her, and then lit her hair on fire with a lighter. Luckily, she was uninjured. Police are now considering adding a hate-crime charge.
  3. Last month, Brandon McInerney, a California teen, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter (prosecutors had previously charged him with a hate crime enhancement, but the case ended in a hung jury and they dropped the hate crime enhancement in the eventual). McInerney shot a classmate, Larry King, for being gay. McInerney, 14 at the time, brought a gun to school and approached King, 15, from behind during computer lab, and then shot King in the head twice at point-blank range. Also disturbing about this case: During the trial the defense attempted to use a “gay panic” defense, arguing that McInereny was pushed to an “emotional breaking point” because King had allegedly flirted with him.
  4. A number of predominantly African-American churches were the targets of racist vandalism last month. The perpetrators spray-painted messages such as “Go back to Africa” and images such as swastikas and male genitalia. In one of the churches, someone threw chairs through the stained glass windows and defecated on the altar.
What can I do? These events are horrifying. It is deeply upsetting that some people can so thoroughly lose sight of the Divine spark in others that they could bring themselves to commit these acts. Yet crimes like these take place every day. Nineteen states still do not have laws that protect lesbian, gay, or bisexual individuals against hate crimes, and 22 states have no laws to protect transgender people against hate crimes. Contact your state representatives and urge them to pass inclusive hate crimes legislation today. Picture courtesy of CBS News.

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