Thursday, January 15, 2015

How "Hate Crimes Against Police" Expose the Fatal Flaw Within Hate Crime Statutes

In early January, the National Fraternal Order of Police, the nation's largest police union, asked Congress to expand federal hate crime laws to include violence against police officers, citing the recent killing of two New York City Police Department officers in their patrol vehicle as well as several other recent, ambush-style murders against officers in Las Vegas, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

This isn't a new request so much as a reinvigorated one: The Fraternal Order says they have advocated for such legislation for over a decade. But during protests against police violence in New York City in December, at least one protester of the more than 200 arrested claims he was charged with a "hate crime," indicating that some officers may be pushing for the charge in their own clandestine way.

The activist, who asked to remain anonymous, told Truthout the police didn't tell them they had been charged with a hate crime in the second degree - a felony - and they found out only after reviewing the report listing their initial charges. The charge was eventually dismissed, but the activist said it had a "psychological effect" on them.

"I was freaked out because I thought, 'How was it possible?'" the activist said. After they saw the charge, one officer gravely told them that what they did was very serious. "It had the effect of making you think you did something much more serious than you really did." Committing a felony hate crime carries the potential of serious jail time.


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