Friday, June 26, 2009

Hate and Bias Crimes Must NOT Be Tolerated


Earlier this week, the Columbian’s Laura McVicker reported on an appalling crime that affected an entire neighborhood and one family in particular.

Read the article here.

Hate and bias crimes are serious offenses that must not be tolerated. No citizen should feel unsafe in our community.

I commend the County Sheriff and his office for their quick work to remove the graffiti from public property, and for the media release they issued, condemning these actions. The Sheriff’s office has said that they will be working with the local YWCA to put together a series of community forums, which is a strong step toward creating understanding among all members of our diverse community.

There are many other organizations right here at home that also serve our underrepresented populations, including LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), the NAACP, the Asian Family Center, PFLAG, the Disability Resource Center, and our county’s own diversity staff—among many others. Members of these groups and others worked with Clark County in 2007 to put forth a resolution condemning hate crimes and promoting collaboration, respect and diversity.

The City of Vancouver has no such resolution, despite multiple efforts on the parts of many dedicated people. This recent graffiti, even though it occurred outside city limits, affects us all.

It is time for the City of Vancouver to make a strong statement against hate and bias crimes, and work with the County and local advocacy organizations to promote community understanding and collaboration.

I am working on a draft resolution, to put before the City Manager and City Council, to stand strong with the County and others in our community against hatred and intolerance, and help make Clark County and the City of Vancouver a place where every resident can feel safe.

If you have any information about the parties responsible for the recent incident, or witness any future event, please call the Sheriff’s Office West Precinct at 397-6079, Central Precinct at 397-6195 or 911 after 5pm. Within the City of Vancouver, call the Vancouver Police East Precinct at (360) 487-7500, West Precinct at (360) 487-7355, or 911 after 5pm.

I’m happy to add that we are working with the Scott family to get the hateful graffiti that was left on their driveway removed quickly and at no cost to the family. Last year, when a citizen encountered hateful property damage and graffiti because of the Obama sign on his lawn, some dedicated citizens put together a fund to help victims of racist vandalism cover costs of repair and replacement. Chris Bassett, who led that charge, is working with the YWCA to make this fund available to the Scotts for any costs they might face. Once this driveway is cleaned, the fund will be used to help others in the neighborhood who experienced graffiti on their cars and other property.

If you would like to contribute to this fund and help members of your community recover from this incident, visit this link to contribute online. Specify "Graffiti Incident" to direct your contribution.

I’ll keep you posted about the progress on this resolution, and look forward to working with all of our citizens to make a stronger, better Vancouver.


Lew Waters said...

Crimes as this smack of immature punk kids with nothing to do and who are jealous of achievements by Shamarica Scott.

The vandals should be prosecuted to the fullest extent, if not taken out back behind the woodshed.

However, I have a problem with this vandalism is somehow more heinous and deserves extra punishment that a similar crime committed against someone else.

We are supposed to be equal under the eyes of the law, I always thought. By labeling something as a "hate" crime deserving of extra punishment simply because it is against a certain group of people is opening a can of worms.

Would it be any more "hateful" for me to paint a swastika on someone's house than for them to paint KKK on mine?

Both would be wrong and both deserve charges of vandalism. But, under such "hate" crimes; I would receive a far stiffer sentence.

Once we move away from equality under the law, we resume the legal discrimination that was often seen in Southern States prior to the Civil Rights era, just in reverse.

Could we classify the vitriol thrown against President Bush over these last 8 years as a "hate" crime as well?

It matters not to me who you are or what you are, wrong is wrong. We do not need an "extra" wrong.

Chris said...

If you'd like to donate online, please direct your contribution directly to the YWCA Clark County:

Just mention "Graffiti Incident" in the "in memory of" section to direct your contribution.


Chris Bassett

Lisa Linderman said...

There was a time, very recently in fact, when I felt as Lew says above, that crime is crime, and the "hate crime" label made no sense. It felt to me as if Hate Crime laws somehow made crimes against Certain People more important, more urgent, more heinous than crimes against other people. That felt like the opposite of equality to me.

Then I read something that changed my mind, because I finally understood the difference. I'd like to pass on what I have now come to understand and accept. Crimes against anyone are atrocious, but when a crime is committed against an individual with the ADDED PURPOSE of terrorizing an entire group of people, it becomes a Hate Crime.

For example, the mugging of a random person is heinous, illegal, and should be persecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Mugging of a person from a Certain Group, leaving clear evidence that the crime was committed because the person belonged to the Certain Group, not only terrorizes the individual, but it is intended to spread fear amongst the Certain Group. That makes it a Hate Crime. That makes it bigger than a crime against an individual, too.

In the example about President Bush...well, that's vitriol against an individual, and not meant to also terrorize a group of people (Presidents, perhaps? People with big ears?) Someone breaking randomly into my house? Not a hate crime, but certainly criminal and reprehensible. Someone doing the same thing because I'm One Of Those People and leaving evidence this is why it was done? A hate crime, perpetrated not only against me but against others like me.