Law Enforcement Abuse Of The Hate Crime Statute Exposed
Article from Reason by Robby Soave.
Police officers in Crafton, Pennsylvania, arrested a 52-year-old black man, Robbie Sanderson, for shoplifting at a CVS in September of 2016. He called them Nazis, skinheads, and Gestapo as they cuffed him.
Because of those epithets, Sanderson was charged with “ethnic intimidation.” Insulting the officers in such terms was an anti-white hate crime, from the perspective of the authorities. Sanderson had made bias-motivated “terroristic threats,” they claimed. The alleged motivation increased the seriousness of Sanderson’s crime from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.
That’s according to The Appeal’s Joshua Vaughn, who reports that Pennsylvania residents were charged with hate crimes for making offensive statements to police at least three other times. In each of these cases, including Sanderson’s, the hate crime charges were eventually dropped. But the threat of a hate crime conviction can still hurt. Defendants might plead guilty to other offenses, for instance, if prosecutors agree to drop a hate crime charge.
In any case, it’s absurd to think that the crime of “ethnic intimidation” was meant to include citizens who angrily rant at cops who are arresting them. “This is not what the hate crime statute was for,” says the ACLU’s Mary Catherine Roper. “This is criminalizing pure speech and that violates the First Amendment.”
Read the entire article at Reason.
Image Credit: By An Errant Knight (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons