The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
A federal appeals court has reversed the convictions of an Amish splinter sect leader and 15 of his followers who were found guilty in 2012 of federal hate crimes after forcibly shaving the beards and hair of breakaway members of the religious community.
The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on Wednesday that a federal trial judge in Ohio had improperly instructed the jury on the motive element of the crime, which was brought under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act.
At issue in the ruling was whether the trial jury had been properly instructed on how to determine if the crimes met the motive element of the federal hate crime act, which required that the faith of the victims be a primary cause of the assault and not simply a “significant factor.” If federal prosecutors decide to appeal, the case could go to the U.S. Supreme Court. Alternatively, prosecutors could decide to retry the case, correcting the jury instruction that resulted in the ruling. ( continue to full post… )
LAS VEGAS – A former “skinhead girl” now nearing middle-age, wearing sensible shoes and jailhouse shackles was the star witness in a federal courtroom here Wednesday, the first day of testimony in a racially charged double murder trial 16 years in the making.
Mandie Abels, who has the words “skinhead girl” tattooed across her back, was escorted by U. S. Marshals into courtroom 7C from a prison cell where she is serving a 15-year sentence for her role in what she called “a vile deed”—leading two anti-racist skinheads to their deaths in the desert just outside of Las Vegas.
In the early morning hours of July 4, 1998 Lin Newborn, 24, and Daniel Shersty, 21 were ambushed and shot to death, prosecutors say, by four white supremacists. “They despised what the victims stood for,” federal prosecutor Patricia Sumner told the jury during opening arguments Wednesday.
The killings were a shocking escalation in the violent—but until then rarely deadly—nationwide conflict between racist skinheads and their anti-racist rivals. Newborn, who was black and worked at a popular Las Vegas body piercing shop, and Shersty, who was a white U.S Air Force airman stationed at the nearby Nellis Air Force Base, were leaders of a fledging group called Las Vegas Unity Skins. ( continue to full post… )
The ghosts of Mississippi cannot rest.
Three years after a middle-aged black auto plant worker named James Anderson was killed in Jackson, Miss., when he was deliberately run over by a gang of white suburban teenagers in a pickup truck, federal law enforcement officials announced yesterday a new round of criminal indictments in the case that shocked and embarrassed the state.
During the attack, which included a savage beating in a motel parking lot in the early morning hours of June 26, 2011, someone in the truck shouted “White Power.”
On Wednesday, federal law enforcement officials announced that three of the people believed to have been in the pickup – Louis Blalack, who is now 20, Sarah A. Graves, 21, and Shelbie B. Richards, 20 – have been charged “with a racially motivated hate crime resulting in the death of a victim run over by a truck.”
Along with another suspected member of the gang of white youths, Robert H. Rice, 23, the three were also charged, according to a federal news release, for their alleged “roles in a conspiracy to commit federal hate crimes against African-American people in Jackson, Mississippi.”
For weeks before Anderson, 49, was killed, the group had been cruising the nighttime streets of Jackson in a two-car caravan, hunting, harassing and hurting African Americans.
They often carried pistols and beer bottles. Their main targets were the homeless and the high. ( continue to full post… )
This is a story about race and the city. It is set in Chicago, but it could take place anywhere ignorance and prejudice stubbornly cling.
On Monday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, a 55-year-old white man, standing 6 feet tall and weighing 240 pounds, allegedly spit on and slapped a slightly built, elderly black woman, apparently for smoking a cigarette too close to him outside on a street in downtown Chicago.
The man, David Nicosia, undoubtedly did not realize – or even imagine – that the silver haired, 79-year-old black woman he mockingly called “Rosa Parks” when he violently confronted her was a civil rights pioneer and local icon in her own right.
Her name is Arnette Hubbard — or, as the bailiffs and lawyers who enter her courtroom call her, Judge Hubbard. She was first appointed to the Cook County circuit court bench in 1997, after a long career as a lawyer and advocate for civil rights and women’s issues.
“She’s more than an icon, she’s historic,” lawyer Geraldine Simmons told the Sun-Times. “She has been an inspiration to young attorneys for years.”
The judge was outside a downtown courthouse and office complex on Monday, having a smoke when she walked past Nicosia, the owner of an IT company, who reportedly holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University. ( continue to full post… )
After a nearly four-month investigation, police in Dayton, Ohio have concluded that a white bus driver’s story – that he was shot in the chest by three black youths and that his life was saved because a slender religious tract in his shirt pocket stopped the bullets – was not a miracle but a lie.
“The whole thing was a hoax based on ugly racial stereotypes,” Mark Donaghy, executive director of the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) told Hatewatch yesterday. “I don’t know if there’s anything that could make me more angry.”
Before police revealed the truth this week at a news conference and officially closed the case as “unfounded,” the story of Rickey Wagoner’s adventure in the pre-dawn darkness of Feb. 24 had flashed around the world.
The story had everything: crime, race, a middle-aged, out-of-shape working stiff turned superhero and the word of God literally saving a man’s life.
But Dayton’s director and chief of police, Richard Biehl, told Hatewatch “the high probability and likelihood is that this was a staged event.”
“We don’t believe, certainly,” Biehl said, “based on our ballistics testing, there’s any way possible he could have been shot in the chest in this book and those bullets not go well through that book and into his torso.”
Wagoner told reporters he had no comment when they knocked on his door after the chief’s news conference. ( continue to full post… )
Almost 100 people were murdered over the last five years by registered users of Stormfront, the largest racist Web forum in the world, according to a report released today by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The forum in effect acts to nurture budding killers and give them moral support, the report says.
A similar racist forum, Vanguard News Network (VNN), was used by neo-Nazi and former Klan leader Frazier Glenn Cook (formerly Miller), who was charged earlier this week with the murder of three people he mistakenly believed were Jews. Miller logged more than 12,000 posts on VNN in recent years.
Read the report here.
A 59-year-old white man is scheduled to appear in court today in Chicago, charged with murder and a hate crime in the death this week of a black father who died trying to protect his teenage daughter from insult and injury.
The white man, Joseph Firek, was arrested after getting into what turned out to be a fatal fistfight Wednesday with Michael Tingling, who was walking his daughter home from school in the middle of the afternoon when they encountered Firek on the street, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
It was around 2 PM when Firek, the Chicago Tribune reported, brushed up against the girl and then stood on the sidewalk grinning as the father and daughter walked on Clark Street in the Rogers Park neighborhood on the city’s far North Side. Tingling, who was also 59 and was battling heart disease and diabetes, stepped in front of his 15-year-old, Masharah, to shield her.
Tingling’s ex-wife, Yolanda Simmons, told the Tribune that Firek “stared at them” and looked her daughter “up and down.” Simmons said Tingling, who had a pacemaker, told Firek, “You need to walk away.”
Instead of doing that, according to police, Firek shoved Tingling and started punching him, shouting racial epithets with every blow. ( continue to full post… )
The horrifying murders of a vacationing lesbian couple from Houston in nearby Galveston, Texas, is being investigated as a potential hate crime, according to authorities quoted by Texas blogs covering the case.
Lone Star Q reports that police investigators told them that anti-gay bias had not been ruled out as a potential motive for the murders last Friday morning of Britney Cosby and Crystal Jackson, both 24-year-old residents of Houston who had been together for two years.
Their bodies were found behind a Dumpster in Galveston. Investigators believe they were killed elsewhere and their bodies dumped there. Autopsy results noted that they had been killed in different ways: Cosby had died of blunt-force trauma to the head, while Jackson had been shot.
Galveston authorities released a sketch of a man wanted for questioning in connection with the crime. He’s described as a black man in his 20s, of average height and build. Investigators are also seeking a silver 2006 Kia Sorrento the couple drove to Galveston in to enjoy the local Mardi Gras celebration. The car remains missing.
The Houston and Galveston LGBT communities are pleading for help in the case. A group of concerned community members recently canvassed the Bolivar Peninsula, handing out sketches and asking for information.
The FBI has joined the hunt for three suspects wanted for a possible hate crime in Dayton, Ohio, that sent a white bus driver to the hospital with stab and gunshot wounds and a miraculous story of survival.
The driver, Rickey Wagoner, 49, told authorities that he was shot once in the leg and twice in the chest in the pre-dawn darkness of Monday morning, but a religious tract titled “The Message” in his breast pocket stopped two of the bullets, apparently saving his life, the Dayton Daily News reported today.
Wagoner was attacked on a sparsely traveled stretch of his route. “I’ve been hit in the leg,” Wagoner told an emergency dispatcher at 5:20 AM, according to the News. “My chest feels like I’ve been hit with a sledgehammer.”
Wagoner described his attackers as three black males, probably in their late teens. Their faces were covered, however, by blue bandanas. They fled in a dark-colored 1990s Ford, leaving behind a .25-caliber handgun believed to have been used in the shooting.
A 10-year veteran of the Regional Transit Authority and a union steward with a sterling employment record, Wagoner told investigators that he was on the street, trying to determine why his electric-powered trolley bus had lost power when he was approached by the three males, the News reported.
Wagoner told investigators the attack may have been a street gang initiation. Wagoner said just before the shooting he heard one of the suspects tell another one to kill him “if you want to be all the way in the club,” according to the News, quoting from a Dayton Police Department crime report. ( continue to full post… )
The man suspected of attempting to burn down a crowded Seattle gay bar on New Year’s Eve reportedly told a confidant that he hated gay and lesbian people and thought “homosexuals should be exterminated,” according to a Seattle TV station. He may also have been planning other terrorist activity, the confidant said.
KIRO-TV reported over the weekend that a friend of Musab Masmari, the Libyan immigrant arrested in early February by detectives as he attempted to flee the country, told FBI agents that Masmari had a “deep distaste for homosexual people,” despite living for several years at an apartment in Capitol Hill, Seattle’s best-known gay neighborhood.
The informant said he had met Masmari at a café near a mosque both attended and that Masmari had laid out his hatred of gay people over the course of the conversation. He said Masmari told him he had obtained a rifle, and he added that he feared that Masmari might have been planning other terrorist acts in addition to the attempted arson at Neighbours Tavern on Capitol Hill at about midnight of New Year’s Eve.
Quick action by alert patrons of the tavern put out the fire, which was set on a stairway leading to the crowded upstairs club, before any of the 750 people inside could be harmed. Masmari’s image was captured on security cameras carrying what appeared to be the gasoline container that was used in the arson attempt, and he was identified by a number of his former neighbors. Detectives questioned him and released him initially, but when he was caught heading to Sea-Tac Airport with a boarding pass for a flight to Turkey, they arrested him and charged him with attempted arson.
The FBI announced that it was investigating the case as a bias crime. If this latest evidence becomes part of the case, hate-crime charges are likely pending.