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Bias-Motivated Crimes

Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey discusses the complicated nature of hate crimes around Denver and around the US.

Joshua Thurmond

on 25 August 2011

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Transcript of Bias-Motivated Crimes

Was this a Bias-Motivated Crime?
A hate crime is any malicious act committed against property, a group, or person because of a bias against a particular religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, nationality, or disability.
What is a bias-motivated (hate) crime?
Law enforcement agencies in 2009 reported 1,223 hate crime incidents based on a bias against a particular sexual orientation. Of those:

31.2 percent transpired in or near residences or homes.

21.3 percent happened on highways, roads, alleys, or streets.

10.1 percent occurred at schools or colleges.

6.9 percent took place in parking lots or garages.

5.1 percent occurred in bars or nightclubs.

13.7 percent transpired in other or unknown locations.

11.8 percent happened in the remaining specified location categories or in multiple locations.
By the numbers:
maybe not where you think...
Four distinct motives underlie hate crimes based on sexual orientation:
Self-defense: perpetrators interpret the victim's actions as a sexual proposition
Ideology: often religion-based
Perpetrators view themselves as enforcers of social norms that deem homosexuality unacceptable
Thrill seeking and peer dynamics: perpetrators aim to alieviate boredom or prove their toughness
Analysis of 14 years of hate crime data found that members of the LGBTQ community or individuals preceived to be, are more than twice as likely to be attacked in a violent hate crime as Jews or blacks; more than four times as likely as Muslims; and 14 times as likely as Latinos.

The findings are based on FBI hate crime statistics from 1995 to 2008, the period for which there is complete data. The basic pattern also holds true in individual years.
LGBTQ-Related Hate Crimes - These are hate crimes that may or may not involve LGBTQ victims, but are based wholly or in part upon the perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim.
What's happening in the LGBTQ teen community:
They hear anti-gay slurs about 26 times a day or once every 14 minutes.
Thirty-one percent of gay youth have been threatened or injured at school in the last year.
Teens under-report and skip school to avoid threats.
Gay and lesbian teens are at high risk because of the hatred and prejudice that surround them, not because of their gay or lesbian orientation.
Effect on people – psychological and affective disturbances; repercussion on the victim's identity and self-esteem; both reinforced by the degree of violence of a hate crime, usually stronger than that of a common one.

Effect on the targeted group – generalized terror in the group to which the victim belongs, inspiring feelings of vulnerability over the other members, who could be the next victim.

Effect on other vulnerable groups – ominous effect on groups that identify themselves with the targeted one, especially when the referred hate is based on an ideology or doctrine that preaches simultaneously against several groups.
Passed on October 22, 2009

Removes the prerequisite that the victim be engaging in a federally-protected activity, like voting or going to school;

Gives federal authorities greater ability to engage in hate crimes investigations that local authorities choose not to pursue;

Provides $5 million per year in funding for fiscal years 2010 through 2012 to help state and local agencies pay for investigating and prosecuting hate crimes;

Requires the FBI to track statistics on hate crimes based on gender and gender identity (statistics for the other groups were already tracked).

The Act is the first federal law to extend legal protections to transgender persons.
This is not the first law of its kind...
Hate crime laws have a long history in the United States
The first hate crime laws were passed after the Civil War.

The modern era of hate-crime legislation began in 1968 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, which made it illegal to "by force or by threat of force, injure, intimidate, or interfere with anyone who is engaged in six specified protected activities, by reason of their race, color, religon, or national origin.”

California passed the first state hate-crime statute in 1978 and provided for penalty enhancement in cases where murder was motivated by prejudice against four "protected status" categories: race, religion, color, and national origin.

In 2009, the Sherpard/Byrd Act passed.

Forty-five states have statutes criminalizing various types of hate crimes.
"A wife is a girl and a husband is a boy"
Deeply ingrained gender expectation.
First conviction in the nation for a hate crime involving a transgender victim.
Andrade beat Zapata to death with a fire extinguisher in Greeley, CO.
During the trial, the jury heard jailhouse conversations in which Andrade told a girlfriend that "gay things must die."
Hate crimes are often acts of force or threats of force upon a particular group because the offender disagrees with or does not understand the group's affiliation.
Statistics show that the majority of hate crimes are committed by individuals under the age of 20.
Hate crimes constitute a unique class of violence against a person's identity.

Hate crime survivors manifest more symptoms of psychological distress than survivors of "random" assaults.
Sexual-Orientation Bias
18.5 percent of all hate crimes have been linked to sexual-orientation bias.
Law enforcement agencies reported 1,436 hate crime offenses based on sexual-orientation bias. Of these offenses:
55.6 percent were motivated by anti-male homosexual bias.
26.2 percent resulted from anti-homosexual bias.
15.0 percent were prompted by anti-female homosexual bias.
1.7 percent were classified as anti-bisexual bias.
1.5 percent were the result of anti-heterosexual bias.
Opponents were concerned that the bill would not protect all individuals equally, that it was unnecessary, that it violated the 14th Amendment, and that it would be a step closer to the prosecution of "thought crimes".
"part of a radical social agenda that could ultimately silence Christians and use the force of government to marginalize anyone whose faith is at odds with homosexuality."
Could it be proven in a court of law?
As this video went "viral" how do you think the community reacted?
"Nothing in this Act...shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution."
Left work to find marijuana or prostitutes on Colfax.
James Foos was on Colfax dressed as a woman.
Garlick said he was afraid of Foos and that Foos was advancing on him with a knife.
Garlick shot Foos one time in the chest with an AR-15 assault rifle.
Video footage contradicted Garlick's statement.
Charles Garlick pled to 2nd Degree Murder and was sentenced to 45 years in prison.
James Dobson, Focus on the Family
A bias-motivated crime requires the intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation.

1. Knowingly causing bodily injury to another person is a class 5 felony. It is a class 4 felony if the offender is physically aided by another person.

2. By words or conduct, knowingly placing another person in fear of injury to their person or property is a class 1 misdemeanor.

3. Knowingly causing damage to or destruction of the property of another person is a class 1 misdemeanor.
Denver's Response to Sexual Orientation Hate Crimes.
Denver Public Schools' Response to LGBTQ Bullying
Establish a LGBTQ Advisory Council
Internal Task Force
Create student forums

Implement strategic planning

Give the students a voice

Build gay and straight alliances

Design a 360 degree plan for DPS
Protocols for disciplinary action
the Sherpard/Byrd Act
Full transcript