Is There a Double Standard When It Comes to Hate Crimes?

Dave Gibson, Norfolk Examiner, July 10, 2009

On the night of June 27, Marty Marshall and his family were standing outside a friend’s home in Akron, OH. The group had gathered to watch a fireworks display at nearby Firestone Park, the festive night ended suddenly, when the family as well as their friends were brutally attacked by a group of nearly 50 black teenagers.

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There was no incident which led to the attack, but as the black teenagers approached the Marshall family, they shouted: “This is our world” and “This is a black world.”

The only motivation behind this crime seems to be the fact that the Marshalls are white.

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Marty suffered a concussion and several deep bruises to his eye. He spent five nights in the critical care unit at Akron General Medical Center.

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Despite the obvious nature of the attack, Akron police have not classified the beating as a hate crime.

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Of course, many believe that this case is only the latest example of a possible bias by law enforcement in crimes which could seemingly qualify as so-called ‘hate crimes.’

In 2007, a mob beating of a white teenager in Norfolk, VA by black teenagers stirred-up racial tensions and had many of Norfolk’s white residents asking why the boy’s attackers had not been charged with a hate crime.

The case gained national attention, after a video of the attack was given to the news media and was posted on Youtube.

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Again, despite the overwhelming evidence, police did not charge the black teens with a hate crime and downplayed the obvious racial overtones to the case.

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Ultimately, six black teenagers were found responsible for the attack, and were only charged with, and later convicted of misdemeanor assault.

In 2007, there were 3,802 white Americans charged with hate crimes, while only 1,045 black Americans were charged with the same offense.

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[Editor’s Note: A fuller account of the attack on the Marshall family can be read here.]

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