Posted on October 13, 2021

Hate Crime Hoaxes: The Harm Done Is All Too Real

Bill Torpy, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 11, 2021

Starting in December and then several times earlier this year, Black residents in a Douglasville subdivision started getting strange and worrisome notes purportedly from a white Klansman threatening to kill them and burn down their homes.

The menacing author described himself as a 6-foot-tall man with a long, red beard. This was mighty odd, to say the least. Klansmen aren’t noted for being brainiacs, but even the most dimwitted white supremacist would be wary of giving out that kind of identifying information.

In August, there were reports of a vandalism and racial terrorism at the Emory Autism Center in Atlanta. Racial slurs were written on walls near the desks of a couple of African American women and a swastika was scrawled in a hallway near a Jewish man’s office.

The incidents made the news as examples of racism and anti-Semitism run amok during these angry and divided times.

Then, in recent weeks came the rest of the story.

In Douglasville, police arrested Terresha Lucas, a 30-year-old woman who lives in that neighborhood. She is Black.

In the Emory case, police fairly quickly closed in on Roy Lee Gordon Jr., a former part-time employee at Emory. He was arrested and charged with second-degree burglary. He, too, was Black.


These two arrests occurred about the time a similar incident in the St. Louis area came to light. There, high school students walked out in protest after racial graffiti was written in several bathrooms. That, too, turned out to be the work of an African American student.

It turns out such incidents are not uncommon, according to Wilfred Reilly, a political science professor at Kentucky State University, a historically Black institution. A couple of years ago, he published a book called “Hate Crime Hoax” after he researched hundreds of hate crimes and incidents that made the news and found that more than 400 of them turned out to be faked.


There is plenty going on, but apparently not enough for some people. The feds say there were 7,554 reported hate crimes in the U.S. last year, an increase of 6% from the pervious year. There are surely many more hate crimes that go uncounted or unreported. But, it also should be noted that there are 330 million Americans.

Reilly estimates perhaps 15% of reported bias or hate incidents are faked. {snip}


Reilly acknowledges the vast majority of reported hate crimes are probably legit. But, he added, even when an incident is determined to have been faked or overstated, those who are initially angered and offended often don’t turn off that outrage.

The St. Louis area school case proved to be a hoax, Reilly said. “But the students are still protesting because this doesn’t matter. They say this shows racism is still occurring — which, in this case, is a conscious denial of the obvious reality,” he said.

This is nothing new. In 1990, an Emory University freshman who was Black went mute and curled up in a fetal position after finding racist graffiti in her dorm. The case drew wide sympathy and media attention. The then-president of the NAACP jumped in and accused Emory of harboring racists. Later, a GBI investigation determined that the student almost assuredly concocted the accusation during the time she was being investigated for cheating on a chemistry exam.

“It doesn’t matter to me whether she did it or not,” the civil rights leader said at the time about the allegedly faked hate crime, “because of all the pressure these Black students are under at these predominantly white schools. If this will highlight it, if it will bring it to the attention of the public, I have no problem with that.”