Category Archives: Hate Crimes

The Feds Increased Prosecution of Domestic Terrorism

Detecting the Financing of Domestic Terrorism - Financial Crime News

Excellent article bMatt Zapotosky  and Devlin Barrett discusses how the Justice Department formed a new domestic terrorism unit.

The announcement came from Matthew G. Olsen, the head of the Justice Department’s national security division. Mr. Olson announced the creation of the unit in his opening remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said the number of FBI investigations of suspected domestic violent extremists had more than doubled since the spring of 2020.

“This group of dedicated attorneys will focus on the domestic terrorism threat, helping to ensure that these cases are handled properly and effectively coordinated across the Department of Justice and across the country.” ~Matthew G. Olsen, Justice Department’s National Security Division

Olsen sought to assure lawmakers that the Justice Department is investigating and prosecuting all of those who committed crimes, no matter what motivated them. Olsen said authorities had arrested and charged more than 725 people. Charges included more than 325 felonies in conneced to the January 6th attack on the Nation’s Capitol. According to the article, the FBI is seeking to identify and arrest more than 200 additional suspects.

The Justice Department and the bureau have faced criticism in recent years for not focusing as intensely on domestic terrorism as they do internationally inspired threats, though officials have insisted they take both matters seriously.

Last year, the White House released a national strategy to address the problem, calling for, among other things, new spending at the Justice Department and FBI to hire analysts, investigators and prosecutors. It is believed the Capitol attack will spur broad crackdown on domestic extremists.

Historically, domestic terrorism investigations come with more procedural and legal hurdles than cases involving suspects inspired by groups based outside the United States, such as the Islamic State or al-Qaeda. The charge of material support for a foreign terrorist group, for instance, has no legal equivalent for someone eager to commit violence in the name of domestic political goals.

My opinion? Obviously, the breach of the Capitol has spurred new political and policy debates abouthow the government combats domestic terrorism. This may trickle down to more localized prosecutions. State prosecutors may become emboldened to prosecute Hate Crimes and other crimes involving speech, race or political affiliations.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Twitch Cracks Down on Hate Speech & Harassment

Hard Questions: Where Do We Draw the Line on Free Expression? - About Facebook

Great article by reporter of the New York Times reports that Livestreaming platform Twitch stops hate speech by releasing updates to its Hateful Conduct and Harassment Policy aimed at better protecting its community of gamers and users from hate speech, sexual harassment and other harmful online attacks.

“We know that many people on Twitch — particularly women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Black, Indigenous, and people of color — unfortunately continue to experience a disproportionate amount of harassment and abuse online, including on our service. . . Not only is this blatantly unacceptable, it also undermines the community we’re building on Twitch and threatens the long term viability of streaming as a career for everyone who wishes to pursue it.” ~Twitch Post Regarding Updates to Its Hateful Conduct and Harassment Policies

The changes make several aspects of Twitch’s current policy clearer and more explicit, banning actions like encouraging people to doxx another user, repeatedly commenting on someone’s physical appearance if you’ve been asked to stop, or displaying the Confederate flag.

The new policy will take effect on Jan. 22, 2021. Until then, Twitch’s team will continue to moderate content using its existing guidelines, the post said.

Interesting.

Apparently, Twitch is responding to the call for more and better moderation/management of its online platforms. In all likelihood, the recent presidential elections ushered an increase in all types of harassment, including Hate Crimes and Felony Harassment. These crimes are felonies in the State of Washington.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family are charged with Hate Crimes and Felony Harassment. Not all commentary is abusive, bullying and/or hate speech. Indeed, most content is protected by the First Amendment. Hiring an experienced and effective criminal defense attorney is the first and best step towards justice.

FBI Releases 2019 Hate Crime Statistics

Pie chart depicting breakdown of motivations of bias-motivated crimes in the Hate Crime Statistics, 2019 report.

In a press release issued today, the FBI gave Hate Crime Statistics, 2019, which is the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s latest compilation about bias-motivated incidents throughout the nation. The 2019 data, submitted by 15,588 law enforcement agencies, provide information about the offenses, victims, offenders, and locations of hate crimes.

Law enforcement agencies submitted incident reports involving 7,314 criminal incidents and 8,559 related offenses as being motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity.

Victims of Hate Crime Incidents

  • According to the report, there were 7,103 single-bias incidents involving 8,552 victims. A percent distribution of victims by bias type shows that 57.6% of victims were targeted because of the offenders’ race/ethnicity/ancestry bias; 20.1% were targeted because of the offenders’ religious bias; 16.7% were victimized because of the offenders’ sexual-orientation bias; 2.7% were targeted because of the offenders’ gender identity bias; 2.0% were victimized because of the offenders’ disability bias; and 0.9% were victimized because of the offenders’ gender bias.
  • There were 211 multiple-bias hate crime incidents, which involved 260 victims.

Offenses by Crime Category

  • Of the 5,512 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against persons in 2019, 40% were for intimidation, 36.7% were for simple assault, and 21% were for aggravated assault. Fifty-one (51) murders; 30 rapes; and three offenses of human trafficking (commercial sex acts) were reported as hate crimes. The remaining 41 hate crime offenses were reported in the category of other.
  • There were 2,811 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against property. The majority of these (76.6%) were acts of destruction/damage/vandalism. Robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and other offenses accounted for the remaining 23.4% of crimes against property.
  • Two hundred thirty-six (236) additional offenses were classified as crimes against society. This crime category represents society’s prohibition against engaging in certain types of activity such as gambling, prostitution, and drug violations. These are typically victimless crimes in which property is not the object.

In Washington, Malicious Harassment is a crime you may face in addition to any other existing charges if the prosecution has deemed that there is sufficient cause to believe that your actions were motivated by personal bias or bigotry. Malicious Harassment is a Class C Felony. The statute reads:

“(1) A person is guilty of malicious harassment if he or she maliciously and intentionally commits one of the following acts because of his or her perception of the victim’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory handicap:

(a) Causes physical injury to the victim or another person;

(b) Causes physical damage to or destruction of the property of the victim or another person; or

(c) Threatens a specific person or group of persons and places that person, or members of the specific group of persons, in reasonable fear of harm to person or property. The fear must be a fear that a reasonable person would have under all the circumstances. For purposes of this section, a “reasonable person” is a reasonable person who is a member of the victim’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation, or who has the same mental, physical, or sensory handicap as the victim. Words alone do not constitute malicious harassment unless the context or circumstances surrounding the words indicate the words are a threat. Threatening words do not constitute malicious harassment if it is apparent to the victim that the person does not have the ability to carry out the threat.”

The jury must put themselves into the shoes of what the statute defines as a reasonable individual, rather than their own mindset.  From a defense standpoint, the prosecutor’s burden of proof may be difficult to properly enact if the jurors are not members of the group that the alleged hate crime has offended. Moreover, not all crimes that occur between people of different races and nationalities are necessarily hate crimes.

Please contact my office if you or a loved one is currently facing charges for a hate crime, and/or Malicious Harassment. Defending against these allegations is difficult, and there is very little room for negotiation. Hiring competent and experienced defense counsel is your first and best step towards justice.