Articles Tagged with hate crimes

It has been reported that Governor Jerry Brown signed into a law that would make it a crime to “willfully and repeatedly” decline to use a senior transgender patient’s “preferred name or pronouns.”  SB 179 (“Gender Recognition Act”) was signed into law back in October. The law will allow individuals to update state-issued identification documents (including birth certificates, state identification cards, and driver’s licenses) to select “nonbinary” as their gender.

Specifically, S.B. 179 states: “It shall be unlawful for a long-term care facility or facility staff to take any of the following actions wholly or partially on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status.” Among the unlawful actions are “willfully and repeatedly” failing to use a transgender person’s “preferred name or pronouns” after he or she is “clearly informed of the preferred name or pronouns.”

However, there has been some confusion about the consequences of the law. The sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener, has claimed that nobody is going to be criminally prosecuted for using the wrong pronoun. Rather, Wiener says that the bill is aimed at at protecting transgender and other LGBT individuals in hospitals, retirement homes, and assisted living facilities. It is intended to ensure that those medical facilities accommodate transgender people and their needs, including letting them decide which gender-specific bathroom they prefer to use.

This law may also affect employment law, as employers should also allow both nonbinary and transgender employees to indicate their preferred name and choice of pronoun while updating their staff health records.

It is reported that a healthcare worker who is found guilty of repeatedly breaching the law would be facing a maximum fine of $1,000, a year in prison, or both. The proposed legislation has met fierce opposition from conservative groups, criticizing the law’s overreaching authority and the threat to freedom of speech.

Up until now, crimes of discrimination, were covered under California’s hate crime laws, which are covered under California Penal Code § 422. Continue reading

In a tragic turn of events, seven adults were shot at a University City apartment complex pool party earlier this month. One woman named Monique Clark was killed. Witnesses say that  49-year-old Peter Selis, a resident at the upscale La Jolla Crossroads complex, never even left his pool chair when he opened fire on a birthday party.  The question left in everyone’s mind is whether Selis was motivated by race, something that the witnesses and survivors of the shooting believe to be true. All the victims of the mass shooting were people of color – four black women, two black men, and one Latino man.  

The three police offers who arrived at the scene shot and killed Mr. Selis. The preliminary investigation revealed that Mr. Selis is a car mechanic at a Ford dealership, and a 2015 bankruptcy filing illustrated that he was under crushing debt.

Hate Crimes

According to the FBI, a hate crime is a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

Hate crimes are the only criminal case in which prosecutors are required to prove a perpetrator’s motive at trial. Typically, the defendant’s mens rea, or criminal intent, is all that is needed to prove guilt. This means that the perpetrator’s state of mind must be an element of the crime; he or she must have taken action intentionally to pursue a criminal result. For example, if a gunman opens fire on a crowd, prosecutors must prove that he intended to pull the trigger (the action) and shoot people to harm them (the criminal result). With hate crimes, prosecution must prove that the perpetrator had the mens rea  to shoot people, but that he or she was also motivated by the victim’s race, gender, or religion.

As a result, hate crimes are extremely difficult to prove even if the crime of shooting is considered by some to be a ‘slam dunk’ case. The mere difference between the race of the offender and the victim in and of itself, absent of any other objective bias indicators, is unlikely to result in a conviction. Usually there must be more evidence to examine the surrounding circumstances. This may include statements the suspect made prior to the crime, which do not exist in the case of Mr. Selis.

A total of 84 “hate crime events” were reported in 2016 in San Diego. Continue reading

In the nearby state of Washington, a 32 year old white supremacist named David Rowe was apparently enraged at the at the sight of a black man and a white woman kissing at a bar in Olympia. Police say Mr. Rowe was recently released from the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, about 300 miles away. He was convicted in 208 for second-degree robbery. It is reported that he may be amongst the state’s homeless, who flock to Olympia for help on their way to Portland or Seattle.

Police report that he had been watching the couple, and walked up to them and without warning, yelled a racial slur and lunged at them with his knife. According to a press release from the Olympia police department, the knife went into the man’s hip, and grazed the woman. The male victim, 47, ended up chasing Rowe and knocking him unconscious on the ground when he tried to run away. After being arrested he was reported to rant about Donald Trump rallies.

Rowe was arrested and booked into the Thurston County Jail on two charges of first-degree assault and possible malicious harassment, which is the charge for hate crime in Washington state. The FBI reported 5,479 hate crimes across the United States in 2014, a 14.6% decrease from 2013.

A Ku Klux Klan (KKK) rally in Anaheim erupted in violence at the end of February, when three people were stabbed and 13 people were arrested. The KKK had planned a rally at Peterson Park for the afternoon to protest against immigration and Muslims, when counter-protesters showed up to confront them. Fighting broke out just moments after the KKK members exited their vehicles. According to reports, witnesses saw the counter-protesters kicking and attacking the KKK members. Then one protester collapsed, crying he had been stabbed. Additionally, two other protesters were stabbed during the melee — one with a knife and the other with an unidentified weapon.

There was next to no police presence at the rally when it first started. A KKK member in handcuffs is reportedly claiming that he stabbed the other protester in self defense. Witnesses said they saw the Klansmen using the point of a flagpole as a weapon while fighting with protesters. Another witness who was near the Klansmen reported seeing them swarmed and attacked with two-by-fours and other weapons by the counter protesters.

The Klan members who were determined to be connected to the three stabbings were arrested.  All could face charges of assault with a deadly weapon, although some folks could have a self-defense claim.