Christine Yared

Hate Crimes

Hate Crime Laws

News article.

The federal hate crime law, The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (18 U.S. Code § 249), criminalizes violent acts and attemp

ts to commit violent acts undertaken with a dangerous weapon when those acts occur because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person. It also criminalizes acts of violence and attempts to commit violent acts undertaken with a dangerous weapon when motivated by the actual or perceived gender, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity of any person if the crime was in or affected interstate or foreign commerce.

This law was passed in 2009 in response to the fact that federal authorities were unable to prosecute two horrendous hate crimes under the federal hate crime law which existed at the time.

In one case two white men tortured and killed Matthew Shepard, a student in Wyoming, because they believed he was gay. In the other case two white supremacists tied James Byrd, Jr., an African American man, to the back of a truck, dragged him through the streets, eventually decapitating him. If you want to obtain more information about these two cases or make a donation contact the Mathew Shepard Foundation or the James Byrd, Jr. Memorial Scholarship at Rice University. The links are:

http://archive.adl.org/combating_hate/byrd_speech.html#.Vw5c4hMrIvg

http://www.matthewshepard.org/

Michigan’s hate crime law is called the ethnic intimidation law (MCL 750.147b) criminalizes the malicious intimidation or harassment of another because of the person’s race, color, religion, gender, or national origin. The law applies when the person engages in physical contact, damages property or threatens to do so. The ethnic intimidation law also creates a basis for civil liability.

If you, or someone you know was the victim of a hate crime you should take the following steps:

(1)        report the incident to your local police agency, and the FBI office in your state;

(2) report the incident to a nonprofit organization that focuses on hate crimes or the rights of the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity, such as

NAACP | National Association for the Advancement of …

(3)        consult with a civil rights lawyer to consider civil liability options.

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