The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Bogus Louisiana Hate Crime Report Illuminates Trend

By Mark Potok on October 24, 2012 - 8:59 am, Posted in Hate Crime

It happened again this week. A woman in Louisiana told police that she had been set afire in a horrifying hate crime Sunday — only to have police, after a full-tilt investigation, say yesterday that she had fabricated the story.

Sharmeka Moffit, 20, set herself on fire in a park in Winnsboro, La., Police Chief Lester Thomas told a news conference late yesterday. She earlier told police that she had been attacked by three men of unknown race who were wearing “T-shirt hoodies.” A racial slur and the letters “KKK” were found daubed on her car when police arrived within one minute of her call to 911. A major investigation involving the Winnsboro Police Department, the Franklin Parish Sheriff’s Office and the state police was launched.

Her story, like those of several other people who fabricated stories about hate crime attacks recently, was odd from the start. Despite the very rapid response of police, they found no suspects or vehicles at the park when they arrived. Moffit also called her sister after her 911 call, a remarkable thing for a woman who was supposedly already on fire, and who is now in critical condition with third-degree burns over 60% of her body. In addition, both black and white town officials said that Winnsboro enjoyed remarkably good race relations.

But rumors, fueled by social media, started almost immediately. Internet posters speculated that the attack was a hate crime that had been carried out by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Several claimed, falsely, that Moffit, who is black, had been wearing an Obama T-shirt and that she had been sexually assaulted. Reporters from media around the world called officials in Winnsboro.

The story quickly fell apart. Thomas said that investigators found Moffit’s fingerprints on a cigarette lighter and a container of lighter fluid found at the scene of the purported attack. The slurs were written on her car in toothpaste that contained female DNA. And he said there was more physical evidence.

“This case is solved,” Thomas told yesterday’s news conference.

Officials had no explanation for Moffit’s actions, although Thomas, who knows the Moffit family, extended his sympathies to them. Franklin Parish Sheriff Kevin Cobb said that what Moffit did was wrong and would have “major consequences,” according to the Franklin Sun. But he added, “There’s something wrong here, and we need to help individuals like this. In the same way our community came forward to support her as a victim, I still hope the community will support her emotional and physical recovery.”

The best evidence suggests there are something like 200,000 hate crimes a year in the United States. But within that total are a vastly smaller number that turn out to be bogus. The reasons people lie about hate crimes vary — covering up an embarrassing incident, promoting a cause, or just seeking attention — but the effect of their false reporting is the same. They give fuel to right-wing opponents of hate crime laws who like to claim that enormous numbers of reported hate crimes never occurred.

The last few months have seen something of a rash of these incidents, several of which received major publicity. They include:

  • This July in Nebraska, 33-year-old Charlie Rogers told police three assailants broke into her Lincoln home and attacked her, carving the word “Dyke” into her and attempting to burn her house down. Rallies were held to denounce the crime against the former University of Nebraska women’s basketball star. But then police found that she’d purchased the items used to “attack” her several days earlier and also had posted a Facebook message boasting that she was going to become a “catalyst” to “make things better for everyone.”
  • In Missoula, 22-year-old Joseph Baken told officials he’d been attacked outside a bar in August because he was gay. He posted photos of his injuries on the Internet, where they were spread by gay rights groups. But then police found a cell phone video showing Baken injuring his face while attempting a back flip off a sidewalk curb. In the end, he was given a suspended 180-day jail sentence and fined $300 for his attempt to avoid embarrassment.
  • Zachary Tennen, a 19-year-old sophomore at Michigan State University, claimed that he was beaten at a party in August, leaving his jaw broken and his mouth stapled shut, by neo-Nazis who had just learned he was Jewish. He told newspapers of his “terrible experience” and drew national attention for his ordeal, particularly in the Jewish community. But 50 witnesses at the party told police they saw no neo-Nazis and no attack. What they remember was a drunk college student who was aggressively hitting on women until, as he pawed one of them, a male friend punched Tennen in the face.

Right-wing websites wrote about all three of these incidents, suggesting that they showed how bogus most hate crime reports are and attacking the notion of hate crime laws. That’s false, of course, but every fake hate crime report feeds directly into the extreme-right propaganda machine.

  • jon prish

    Sounds like the lady has a lot of mental issues .

  • Reynardine

    Mr. Witten, if you are who you appear to be, you can give us insight into thought processes most of us grope in the dark to comprehend.

    A decade and a half back, I wrote a novel of British India- a huge, awkward thing I must revise before I ever offer it- but in it, there was a colonel in the King’s Indian Army who underwent a journey something like yours. In it, he was guided by a native of the Northwest Frontier who had foresworn violence and vowed to teach nonviolence to his fellow Pathans. The latter was based loosely on Ghaffar Khan and several kindred figures; the former had no known prototype, but spoke very clearly in my mind out of an experience that was not mine. You have nearly echoed his words. Thank you.

  • aadila

    Talking about hate is not the same thing as spewing it, RCRoberts. I don’t lose my temper much but that takes the cake. Why don’t you just leave? Wendell is turning his entire life around for the better and you can’t stand it. In a few short paragraphs, he has shown more courage than you probably have in your entire life. All you have to show for yourself is a bitter snark. Maybe Wendell won’t say it but I will, you are one of the cowards he is talking about, trying to tear down other people. Just go away. Just go!

  • RCRoberts

    Thanks for spewing the HATE there Wendall.

  • CoralSea

    Wendall –

    Thanks for your thoughtful post. I wish more people recognized the noxious threat of some of these guys.

  • aadila

    I would humbly ask everyone in the forum to consider Wendell Witten’s words not only from the insight they represent about society but from the light that he has found within himself.

    Mark Potok has opined that this is a genuine and sincere transformation on the part of Mr. Witten. I accept this. We can never know, for certain, the hearts of others, but I think even a small gesture toward higher values, ANY higher values, represent the means by which we progress as human beings and members of society. So let us take his words with sincerity and acceptance.

    Mr. Witten does not speak of his own pain. He speaks of compassion for others, for seeing through the infinite obscurations of rage, greed, and violence to their roots in fear, self interest, and ignorance. These are not small realizations, in my opinion. His pain is very great. And yet there is so much hope. These are the seeds of a new flowering, but also of discovering within oneself the value that he sees in others and expresses. He came from darkness, and is showing us the way out.

    Our lives are so filled with so many travails, and at the root of them we always one way or the other, end up exactly where we started, with ourselves. Our own hearts, our own minds. These are cycles, waves if you will, and breaking free from them can be a monumental challenge even for the most fortunate, for the most gifted, the most kind. At least this is what I believe.

    If Mr. Witten’s words are sincere I believe we should lend him all the support we can. No matter how greatly we speak of our own beliefs and values, Mr. Witten has the unique and priceless ability now to influence others in a positive way. His experience can be a gift to humanity. This is not about redemption, because I believe he has always had value and worth. This is about allowing his light to shine into the world, having come out of the darkness into which any of us, at any time, can and do easily fall.

    He speaks of stigma and exclusion and I think it is important that society understand where he is coming from. This is not an appeal to self, or for pity, this is an appeal for others to see within themselves the kind of amazing transformations that can occur when we realize that compassion is the key to happiness. Mr Witten may still struggle with his past, but I am far more concerned with what he is doing right now. I revere what he is doing right now.

    I don’t know what can be done, but I believe we should listen deeply to what he has to say and give him an opportunity to find a voice with us so that he can continue to carry this message into the world, that is still trapped in darkness. We speak of life and death, but every moment is a lifetime, each hour a new incarnation. Where he is now is in a very different place than where he was. I hope that we can help him along to find ever more of his inner radiance and inspire others to do the same.

  • Reynardine

    Hold it there, Hunter’s Phallus. You may need us when someone decides that the pituitarily deficient are useless eaters.

  • HW

    Mark,

    Maybe the SPLC could spend more of its time investigating some real crimes? How about the nature of violent crime that takes place within a 15 square mile radius of SPLC headquarters?

  • Kiwiwriter

    Lew:

    “It turns out two Black males murdered that 12-year old White girl in New Jersey, Autumn Pasquale.

    Why isn’t SPLC on the case? The authorities claim there was no sexual assault, Right…and I have some used cars for sale!

    They dumped her body like garbage.”

    Lew, we’ve heard your material before, and your great admiration for Swastikas, so don’t get all righteous on us.

    Besides, I’m watching this case quite closely, and it’s pretty apparent that Miss Pasquale was murdered for her bicycle, not for her ethnicity. Nothing about it the SPLC would deal with…it’s ordinary, ugly, horrific, crime.

    By the way, Autumn Pasquale is of Italian descent…100 years ago, Italian immigrants to America were not considered “real white Americans,” either.

    Now back to VNN and Stormfront with you, where you can accuse each other of being FBI plants.

  • Wendell Witten

    In that moment in time when a coward forces himself sexually on a woman, his feelings of inadequacy, his fears, those that reside in that place within himself where ego will not cover up the lies he has tried to live up to as a man, are manifested in a desire to bring about the most hateful humiliation possible to another human-being, indeed, the dismissal of their very humanity. The victim becomes an object to the coward, but it is the coward who loses his humanity.

    In the instance of this young woman filing a false police report, she needs help in realizing she matters simply because she exist, and does not need to become a headline in order to be significant. Sadly, our society does not overtly communicate this to our disenfranchised.

    The tragedy as I see it, is that a very real assault on the sanctity of personhood is rampant in the GOP nominees for our nation’s highest office. Certainly not to the extent of the cowardice of rapists or physically abusive men, but the mentality of dismissing the humanity and individual value of women, LBGT, Minorities is a collective of the GOP mentality described in the opening paragraph.

    These primarily White, priveledged, plutocrats and politically powerful are frustrated at their perceived loss of control; the long overdue distribution of political power to women and minorities fuel their feelings of inadequacy, so they focus on issues like controlling the “entitled 47%”, the wombs of women, and creating socio-economic environments where self-deportation becomes a viable option to those that threaten them, and make them feel lesser-than. I do not dismiss the power of their hedonistic greed, but see signs that it runs deeper than that.

    The GOP ticket, not just fringe hate-groups comprised of under-educated, terrified White men, is threatening to take us back to a time when the bodies and humanity of women, minorities, those of different sexuality and personal sexual identification may once again be legislatively restricted.

    The GOP pandering at its highest levels, along with the silence of its Presidential candidate, is an indication of the fear permeating the minds of Whites who I truly don’t believe even recognize these traits within themselves.

    Our strenth against such bigotry will be shown on election day. I have faith in the overall goodness of the American people. We bled with Lincoln. We stood shoulder to should with Dr. King. The GOP must realize we will not allow them to control the wombs of society’s women, or crush the dreams of any segment of our society. I pray as much.

  • CoralSea

    Erika — I agree with you — even though I so wish I did not. Although I have been aware of the threat from the Religious Right (the Dominionists and the New Apostolic Reformation people who do stuff like destroy cultural artifacts to lift “generational curses” from indigenous people and believe that they managed to kill Mother Teresa with their prayers (they regarded her as the demonic Queen of Heaven), it seems that many people either don’t understand that we have our own version of the Taliban waiting to sweep in, or they naively think that society has gotten “out of control” and needs to be brought back to more “Godly” behavior.

    I have ancestors in Salem during the witch trials. I honestly do wonder if we are going to see something similar here.

    Frankly, any woman or man that cares anything about women vote for any of these walking turds, needs to have their heads examined. There guys are out to do damage — and women are definitely one of their targets.

  • aadila

    Our society could be so different if we would just wake up. Instead of working to construct a society where violations of human dignity are not so likely to occur, so many view the price of their flat screen television as the leading social problem of their day. Sometimes I think America deserves the society it has…except I remember people like those who come to SPLC and it inspires me to continue trying. There really are other ways to be as a society. We don’t have to self destruct. We have it so easy that we don’t care if our comfortable, reclinable, heated/cooled, refreshment-dispensing couch is wheeling toward a cliff of our own making.

  • Concerned Citizen

    This is another sad example of someone wanting some attention. Regardless of status of being mentally ill.She manges to have liberals and others falling over themselves. They truly want to believe that she was a victim of a hate crime. Unfortunately. This individual’s
    fabrication makes it bad for the REAL victims of hate crimes.
    This can also can said about the lesbian in Nebraska, who alleged that two men broke into her home and trashed it also making anti gay incendiary remarks. Nothing is gained by lying and pulling a con job on a community.

  • Erika

    CoralSea, in my more cynical moments knowing what i know about the criminal justice system i actually wonder why any woman would ever report being raped – except maybe in the extremely rare stranger abduction or break in cases (and i’ve even seen men’s rights bozos attacking the victim in a case where the defendant was convicted of rape, breaking and entering, and stealing the victim’s television on an actual legal website) And things now are unquestionably better than they used to be – especially in the domestic violence context. But they are still awful for women.

    Rape victims even in the rare stranger rape cases are still attacked in ways that other crime victims are not. A woman who gets raped gets attacked for wearing a short skirt or walking down a dark street (which she lives on and is dark because cheap people don’t want to pay more real estate taxes for street lights and the closest parking spot is a block away – and of course, she was working late because her job required it) in a way that say a victim of robbery does not get blamed. No one ever says that a person who gets robbed at gun point was asking for it. Many people – and not just the theocrats and men’s rights idiots claim that about women who get raped at gunpoint.

    But i seriously fear for the future – because i fear that things may soon since much worse and life may get much more dangerous for women. If the Men’s Rights Mysognists and their ideas were just some annoying people on the internet complaining about women it would be one thing – however we are seeing what are allegedly mainstream politicians in the Republican Party which is supposed to be a mainstream political party embracing those sorts of views. When a political candidate from a mainstream party says it is God’s will if a woman gets pregnant through rape these are very dangerous times indeed. So if you get raped because you have to work late to make ends meet and the city is too cheap to pay for working streetlights and there is no nearby parking its not only your fault but also God’s will. Lovely people these theocrats are.

    Overall the ideology coming back is an extreme religious ideology which views women as property. Any denial cannot get around the fact that the Christian extremists view women as being property. There is even precedent for this country – the claims by people of going by the “original” intent of the Constitution and having a Supreme Court Justice (Scalia) saying that we have a dead Constitution which set laws in permanence as they were in 1789 should scare people in general but women in particular. In 1789 women were basically treated as property – husbands could legally rape and beat their wives under Common Law, women were not allowed to vote, were not allowed to work outside of the house, and could not own property.

    Add in the religious nutjobs and the fact that they want to impose Old Testament Biblical law in this country which calls for stoning rape victims to death and i fear as bad as things are now they will get worse and worse.

  • CoralSea

    (The Real) Gregory –

    I was pretty sure that the “Gregory” to whom I addressed my comments wasn’t you, since I have a pretty good idea of your discerning and humane thoughts, but thanks for clarifying.

    Boy, that’s irritating to have someone use the same name and post something crummy. So I will say it again: THE GREGORY WHO MADE CRUMMY COMMENTS ABOUT MANDISA’S COMMENTS ISN’T OUR USUAL GREGORY!!!

    Ray — what an incredibly cynical way of looking at terrible injuries to a woman who is obviously suffering mental problems. Sympathy, much?

    Mark Potok — Many thanks for your clarification on rape. In addition to myself, I know a lot of other women who have been assaulted and just didn’t think they could handle going to the police. I do understand how important it is to protect men and boys from false accusations, but it takes a toll on the women and girls who don’t report, and in a perverse way, I think it may add to the cynicism of misogynists, who say, “see, most of ‘em aren’t even sure they were raped because they don’t report it, which means they probably wanted it on some level, or realize that they shouldn’t have dressed so provocatively or had a drink.”

  • Reynardine

    I had quite forgotten about Casey Anthony, the little doggess.

    Someone in that family had to be the principal in that crime, and the remaining someones the accessories. Given that Casey’s family members seemed to have been quite protective of her, while she was nothing loath to accuse them of misdeeds, if any but herself had done the murder, she’d have pointed them out. The fact that she didn’t point them out anyway suggests she knew that they knew she did it, and under the pressure of a direct accusation, would have said so.

    There is little evidence Casey particularly hated Hispanics, but like many in such a situation, found it convenient to frame a member of an outgroup. It’s partly because members of the outgroup are not trusted, and partly because “they all look alike”.

    The Anthony case points out the danger of overcharging. Had the jury been allowed the options of Murder 2, manslaughter, and negligent homicide, it’s likely that some kind of conviction would have followed.

  • aadila

    Well I may not be the first to say it, but thanks Mark Potok. You are Bad Ass!

  • Gregory

    CoralSea,

    That was a different “Gregory” and not my writing style. I do not capitalize “White” or “Black”. I suspect that a particularly tiresome commenter likes my moniker so much that he decided to make it his own.

  • Erika

    Lew, my adorable Necco Wafer, if i had the next year or so free i might be able to give a partial list of white children who have been killed by white men.

    Most crimes against children are domestic in origin – it is overwhelming that children are much more lilely to be sexually abused by family members than strangers – many “stranger” cases are actually murders by hire – until the full evidence comes out you simply do not know. but stranger danger cases have always been overblown.

    And considerign that you have admitted that you’re a Nazi loving White Nationalist i’m simply not going to take your word about any sort of alleged crime.

  • Mark Potok

    A colleague and I wrote something debunking allegations of a high incidence of false rape claims in connection with a larger story on misogynistic websites. You can look at the whole piece at the url below, or just read the relevant portion I’ve pasted in:

    http://www.splcenter.org/get-i.....bout-women

    THE CLAIM Close to half or even more of the sexual assaults reported by women never occurred. Versions of this claim are a mainstay of sites like Register-Her.com, which specializes in vilifying women who allegedly lie about being raped. Such claims are also sometimes made by men involved in court custody battles.

    THE REALITY This claim, which has gained some credence in recent years, is largely based on a 1994 article in the Archives of Sexual Behavior by Eugene Kanin that found that 41% of rape allegations in his study were “false.” But Kanin’s methodology has been widely criticized, and his results do not accord with most other findings. Kanin researched only one unnamed Midwestern town, and he did not spell out the criteria police used to decide an allegation was false. The town also polygraphed or threatened to polygraph all alleged victims, a now-discredited practice that is known to cause many women to drop their complaint even when it is true. In fact, most studies that suggest high rates of false accusations make a key mistake — equating reports described by police as “unfounded” with those that are false. The truth is that unfounded reports very often include those for which no corroborating evidence could be found or where the victim was deemed an unreliable witness (often because of drug or alcohol use or because of prior sexual contact with the attacker). They also include those cases where women recant their accusations, often because of a fear of reprisal, a distrust of the legal system or embarrassment because drugs or alcohol were involved. The best studies, where the rape allegations have been studied in detail, suggest a rate of false reports of somewhere between 2% and 10%. The most comprehensive study, conducted by the British Home Office in 2005, found a rate of 2.5% for false accusations of rape. The best U.S. investigation, the 2008 “Making a Difference” study, found a 6.8% rate.

  • Reynardine

    Whether or not the murder of Autumn Pasquale was motivated by racial animus, an avenue which will surely be explored by the prosecution, there is no evidence that any larger group or organization was behind it. Individual bias crimes can surely be evidence of societal animus, and where they are being instigated by propaganda, that can certainly be a matter of concern for this organization, as can either the prosecution or the defense stirring up public prejudice in aid of their case. So far, the Pasquale case has not raised these wider issues.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Hey Lew, was there any evidence that murder was ideologically/politically/racially motivated? If not, why would reporting that be the responsibility of the SPLC?

  • ray

    So now there will be a huge medical bill and we tax payers will be stuck with it.

  • Lew

    It turns out two Black males murdered that 12-year old White girl in New Jersey, Autumn Pasquale.

    Why isn’t SPLC on the case? The authorities claim there was no sexual assault, Right…and I have some used cars for sale!

    They dumped her body like garbage.

  • aadila

    To me, the deep cynicism of the right wing is evident when people start cheering on self immolations as somehow debunking racism.

  • CoralSea

    Gregory — I agree with you that false accusations are a very bad thing — and they can definitely be injurious to people who are accused, but I read Mandisa’s comment as a statement regarding the fact that there are mean-spirited people out there who don’t believe in hate crimes or rape, etc., and are not only quick to say the accuser is a liar or gleefully point it out when the person is, indeed, found to have made a false accusation.

    In this particular case, it doesn’t appear to me that there WAS a rush to discredit the woman. My take on the coverage was that law enforcement and the town officials took this case very seriously. So I don’t agree that this was a case where anyone appeared to be setting out to discredit this woman–instead, they followed the evidence where it led.

    However, I do understand Mandisa’s frustration. There are a lot of racists out there — including some that think black women are “asking for it” in some way, or are otherwise naturally duplicitous. There are also a lot of men out there (and some women, regrettably) who don’t appear to be hard-wired to believe that, unless an assault involves a 14-year-old lily white virginal blond haired girl, who was abducted from her home by a slobbering pervert, raped, and then killed, while she prayed for mercy on her knees, that rapes don’t happen. All you have to do is look at the statements made recently by certain Republicans about “girls who rape easy,” or how women just yell rape to get back at men. You can see my above post to get an idea of what I think of that.

    As a woman who works in a technical field, even when no one is being deliberately dismissive, I have experienced for years what it can be like when men (and, again, some women) act dismissively toward you because somehow, what you say just doesn’t carry much weight because you don’t have a pee-pee hanging down between your legs. I am also aware that persons of color, immigrants, the elderly, and the very young are also very much at risk for having anything they say ignored because, well, the “dominant” ones (or their proxies, who may be minorities or women themselves) just don’t want to be bothered by people who just aren’t — to them — important. See some of Mitt Romney’s comments about women for an idea of the dismissiveness–and the one about how much better off he would be as a candidate if he was Mexican, for an idea of how this works.

    So — Mandisa’s comment may not have completely applied to this case, but there is certainly validity in what she wrote. Such pervasive — “oh, did it really happen? Are you sure, dear?” attitudes are one of the reasons women avoid reporting rapes and many minorities avoid reporting being victims of crimes (they often get, “what were you doing there? Why were you there? What did you do to cause this?”) Disgusting, but real.

  • Erika

    CoralSea, the odds that a men’s rights mysognist like A.D.M. will listen to your heartfelt and excellent post is minimal. Best wishes to you :)

    All i have to add is that while false rape accusations are exceedingly rare, almost all legitimately false accusations of rape occur within a mental health setting – often involving people (men and women) who suffered horrific sexual abuse as children and have PTSD as a result. Part of the PTSD is reliving the source of the trauma which can result in the belief that one is being raped repeatedly. Needless to say the men and women who suffer from those delusions of repeated sexual assault are extremely vulernable to further sexual assault by other patients and staff because any accusation they make is attributed to the delusion. Major issue within the mental health system

    The men’s rights movement bozos only get away with trying to claim that there is a large number of false rape claims by classifying cases where there is insufficient evidence to prove rape beyond a reasonable doubt as being false accusations. Of course, in our criminal justice system ties – and even cases where there you think there is a 95% chance that the defendant is in fact a rapist but tehre is a plausible argument for innocence – go to the defense. That is how things should be in a free country

  • Gregory

    It’s a shame that we can’t express our, what Malcolm Gladwell (also African American) wrote about as a “blink” moment without people condemning us for “not taking her word because she is a Black woman.” We need to restore our ability to criticize people of whatever color who commit a crime against themselves, and then accuse others of the crime. This isn’t about them, this is about us fomenting rage toward perfectly innocent people. This happens across the racial divide, by the way. Not only did I have a blink “something’s not right with this story” moment in this case, but I had the exact same initial doubt when Susan Brown described an exaggeratedly stereotypical Black man driving through her neighborhood and kidnapping her two boys, whose murder she herself is in prison for. So to the woman above who said it is a shame that we so readily discredit Black women, for shame on you! We can’t just ignore Tawana Brawley who falsely accused six white men, or Susan Brown who accused a non-existent Black man, or Casey Anthony who accused Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez. There never seems to be a satisfactory apology to the human beings, whether White or Black, destroyed by careless, inhumane false accusation. Instead we get media blackout, which is frustratingly insulting to our intelligence.

  • aadila

    Roger B, let him check what Ann Coulter said and he’ll get back to you.

  • Roger B.

    So which right racist group do you belong to Mark? Or is it that you admire so many of them you are having a difficult time trying to pick out which one you want to join? Silly me. I keep forgetting people like you have a hard time making up your mind because of the lack of willingness to see the truth or the ability to think for your self.

  • Aron

    Mark you aren’t even worth my time. Just go away.

  • Mark

    Once again this fruity group yelled racists when in faction it was the looney black woman who is the horrible racist! Shame on you all! Well that’s the left for you.

  • Aron

    Jeronimus,

    Why am I only seeing hard-right sites reporting on GZ’s apparent ‘anti-racism?’ Until I see it from a legitimate (read: NOT ‘THE OCCIDENTAL OBSERVER’) source, I am going to call shenanigans on your claims.

    And considering that GZ himself has done absolutely nothing to distance himself from racist elements who jumped to his defense, I see even less reason to believe you.

    And that doesn’t even take into account your many racist comments on this site.

  • Aron

    Hey Rocky, you illiterate fool, the SPLC issued an immediate retraction as soon as the truth came out.

    Go back to Stormfront, you racist waste of humanity.

  • Rocky Lore

    So when does the SPLC plan to apologize for supporting yet another hate crime hoax?

  • aadila

    Coral thanks for the courage to say that because it’s all unfortunately so true. There are so many examples of women who are raped a second time by the system that proposes to protect them.

    False crimes can and indeed do go reported but it is a horrible thing to treat that as justification to mimimize such crimes when they do occur.

    I think it would be useful to track the incidence of false reporting of hate crimes if for no other reason to have a reliable database to refer to when people trot out arguments that are so insensitive.

  • Jeronimus

    The problem with hate crimes laws are that it gives prosecutors and judges a LOT of discretion, and given prosecutors and judges are very politically minded, they don’t charge people like the Carr brothers with a hate crime, on the legal reasoning that since one of them had a white girlfriend, it couldn’t have been a hate crime. Notice that they aren’t cutting George Zimmerman any slack despite the fact that the NAACP knew Zimmerman as an anti-racism campaigner who was trying to get justice for a homeless black man who was beaten up by the son of a police officer.

    The evidence that Zimmerman did not hate black people is a heck of a lot stronger than the evidence that the Carr brother were not motivated by racial bias when every victim the Carrs selected was white.

    So yes, hate crimes laws gives prosecutors way too much discretion to play politics with peoples’ lives. And I think that’s been the intent from the beginning.

  • CoralSea

    Shadow wolf — please don’t tell me that you meant in your post to imply that “black people” as a group are all to blame for the acts of a few disturbed people and/or it will be “their own fault” if the public stops believing that hate crimes exist. Because both ideas are highly offensive (and normally, I don’t like to go around making comments about being “offended,” because it reminds me too much of some of the folks on the Right who are constantly “offended” when people call them on their dumb-ass and/or vicious statements).

  • Sam Molloy

    Kudos to the SPLC for responding so quickly to call this out. Diligently reporting the few fake cases highlights the irrefutable fact that most of these cases are true.

  • CoralSea

    Rob Allen — thank you for pointing out at the end of your post the comments of the chief of police and the sheriff. I also noted them when I read the post, but didn’t comment on them. I think that a lot of law enforcement officials do attempt to find causes of the problems they deal with, but we don’t often hear this — we hear about the ones who are abusive.

    Also, thank you for pointing out that there are false crime reports across the spectrum — and not just in regard to hate crimes (although they get a lot of publicity). I once had an acquaintance in high school who staged her own kidnapping in an attempt to get her mother and stepfather’s attention. The police figured it out right away. Her mom and stepfather were in the Bahamas, and when notified, they just called the girl and yelled at her about trying to mess up their vacation (they were very wealthy and often “vacationed,” but not with Cindy). It was very sad. I don’t know what ever happened to her after high school.

    As for you, A.D.M. — your comment about the prevalence of “false rape” accusations is not only disgusting, but highly misleading. Are there false accusations? Yes. I know about two cases, second hand, involving teenage girls whose hard-line religious parents found out that they had had sex (in one case, the girl got the clap, in the other, the girl got pregnant). Both girls freaked out and said initially that they were “forced” because their parents, minister, etc. came down on them so hard. This didn’t make it right — it was absolutely wrong — but given the hyper fundamentalist religiousity of the families (they belonged to my parents’ church), I can understand how it happened. Both girls retracted their statements, like, the next day, although in both cases, the parents chose not to believe the retractions because they were so invested in their daughters’ purity that they still press for prosecution (although it didn’t go anywhere in either case). Incidentally, the parents of the girl who was pregnant shuttled her off for an immediate abortion – because she had been “taken advantage of,” although they remain hard core anti-choicers. Interesting how people act when it happens to THEM.

    Reynardine probably knows a lot about false reports — especially by teenagers — because I gather she has worked with them.

    But I do know that when it comes to adult women, the false accusations are few and far between. The really huge number is the number of women who DON’T report rapes because they are too traumatized or they just can’t deal with the idea of being poked, prodded, questioned, second-guessed, and accused of “blowing the whole thing out of proportion.” Also, before the horrible phenomenon of “date rape” was well known to the public, a lot of women who were overpowered by someone they had initially thought was a “nice guy,” and forced to have sex (or drugged and raped while they were too out of it to know) didn’t report–and still don’t report–because it was hard to wrap their minds around it.

    I know this from first-hand experience, because it happened to me during grad school. I was set up on a blind date with a former co-worker of one of mine, who said he was a “great guy.” Before we headed out to the restaurant for a “double-date” with my friend and her husband, Mr. X said that he needed to return to his apartment for a moment, and since I didn’t want to wait around in the dark on a city street, I accompanied him.

    He didn’t beat me up, because he didn’t have to. He was a lot stronger than me. Yes — I said “No” — shouted it, in fact. Yes — I struggled. It didn’t help. I went home afterward and showered and bathed and showered and bathed again. I told my friend what happened and she didn’t believe it. After all, he was a nice guy and a bank vice president, to boot.

    No. I didn’t report what happened because it was so hard for me to parse within the first 24 hours. It did a real number on me psychologically, though, and frankly, if anyone ever tries to rape me again, I will kill the guy rather than go through the ordeal of blaming myself for having trusted “a nice guy” who had been recommended by a (former) friend.

    So please don’t make the assumption that girls or women in great numbers are lying about rape. The real tragedy is the huge numbers who don’t report because they can’t deal with how they are treated.

  • Shadow Wolf

    If Black people (especially Black women) keep this up. James Byrd will be rolling in his grave. The Mathew Sheppard and James Byrd Act was created to protect them from actual Hate Crimes.

  • A.D.M.

    People reporting false crimes happens a lot unfortunately. Just look at the women that falsely report being raped.

  • CoralSea

    It is unfortunate that incidents such as these occur. Obviously, as Reynardine says, they often indicate mental problems (although the bullet examples appear to also indicate stupidity and/or a desire to explain away dumb things they have done to themselves or provoked — although breaking someone’s jaw is not exactly appropriate).

    Still, it is unfortunate that these incidents fuel cynicism — at least among some folks — of very real hate incidents in the same way that false claims of rape are used by anti-women groups (and some politicians) to dismiss the many, many more rapes–by force, drugs, or coercion–that actually occur.

    BTW — I am aware that men can also be raped, but there are so few statistics on this, due, I suspect, to the stigma men face regarding reporting such crimes, that I only addressed women (and girls) in the above paragraph.

  • aadila

    This is at the surface an attempt to gain attention by whatever means are available.

    Deeper, perhaps, we can recognize that racism is social affliction that goes well beyond “individual responsibility”, but something that lurks, to one degree or another, in the minds of every member of society.

    Racism could be said even to transcend race, in this regard, but its harmful effects tend to be experienced by member of groups who have been historical victims of racism, even into the present day.

    Without racism this would never have occured. It’s regrettable that anyone would use a social problem like racism for personal attention getting purposes, but whether we see it or not, the pain she was experiencing was best described as racism.

    We must end racism, but underlying this goal, I hope others might see we must also end suffering. Cause and effect occurs by many dependent mechanisms. One does not exist without the other for Moffit, racism is pain, and pain racism.

    You can call this being mentally ill if you want. All I see is her suffering. She has my compassion.

  • Rob Allen

    Incidents of people falsely reporting being victims of crimes happen across all categories of crime. Falsely reporting crimes take time and resources from law enforcement agencies that are already struggling with diminished resources.

    The incidence of falsely reported crimes is, I suspect, exagerated in the public’s perception for a few reasons: One reason is that falsely reported crimes are generally identified as such far more quickly than the time it takes to solve legitimate crimes. Further, law enforcement agencies’ desire to calm public fears spur those agencies to release the information that a reported attack did not happen quickly. Finally, law enforcement is generally loathe to share information about ongoing investigations in legitimate cases for fear of jeopardizing the investigation–so cases that remain open are often forgotten about by the public, or the public assumes, incorrectly that since police haven’t shared information, the crime may have been made up.

    It is critically important for those of us in law enforcement to be mindful of the impact of falsely reported crimes on the community. We can mitigate the danger of inurring the public to the ongoing of threat of hate crimes–and other crimes–by putting falsely reported crimes in context when we report out on them by saying, for example, “while the evidence in this case suggests that the complaint falsely reported this crime, hate crimes remain a serious problem: less than 5 percent of reported hate crimes are proven to be falsely reported.”

    Finally, I was deeply moved and encouraged by the reactions of Chief Thomas and Sheriff Cobb who noted, “There’s something wrong here, and we need to help individuals like this. In the same way our community came forward to support her as a victim, I still hope the community will support her emotional and physical recovery.”

  • http://whji.org S. Mandisa Moore

    I think it is really sad how we work to discredit the stories of black women. This is clearly embedded in our society. The quickness with which we believed her story was fabricated says less about her (because-again we do not know what she is going through-she is still in need of our prayers and support) and more about the racialized gendered construction of who “victims” are. I am not invested in picking apart the fabrication-Im more invested in why we are so quick to believe her. This happens again and again and one thing seems to be the common factor-the value of black women’s lives.

  • Reynardine

    Frankly, the suspicion crossed my mind when I first saw this, but when I attempted to post a remark on the need for better forensics, it glitched. My second, successful post suggested that her assailants were not strangers, but people with personal animus who had disguised themselves, something that can also happen in such cases. All the same, the only factor clearly pointing at this moment to it not being what it seemed, was the absence of such incidents in recent memory.

    Disturbed individuals of all kinds are all too likely, in this climate, to invent racially charged incidents, and in runs in all directions: witness Susan Smith. Sometimes, as we have seen, men do it also, but you hear more cases of women. I suspect this young lady had been recently jilted, and hoped to die regretted and lionized. I’ve personally known a few such loonies in my day, and I’ve seen them pull stunts like that in no interracial context at all, but where the climate is one of intergroup tension, they’ll pick up on it. Individually, they need psychotherapy. On a societal level, we need to create a milieu where genuine incidents of the kind no longer happen.

  • Rachel

    Sadly, I thought this may have been a fabricated story.