2016 has been an eventful year, filled with many shocking moments that have opened the eyes of thousands of Americans to the injustice seen by many other citizens. Our ability to constantly monitor the activities of our government officials, as well as officials on a local level, has provided accountability that had not been seen in previous years. This desire for accountability has sparked movements across the country, not only due to the recent presidential election, but also due to the numerous police shootings that have been recorded and released, showing obvious abuse of power in many situations. However, not all movements have been for positive reasons.
The presidential election for 2016 brought many controversial topics to the political agenda, including immigration, health care, women’s reproductive rights, as well as the war on terrorism. The candidates differed vastly when it came to these topics, which has further isolated each candidate’s supporters in one direction or the other, due to the hostile nature of each candidate’s proposed regulation. As the result of one candidate’s public stance on immigration and the war on terrorism, a large number of Americans became motivated for change and found themselves singling out a specific population of people in our country.
President elect Donald Trump vowed to deport illegal immigrants by the thousands and also proposed to create a registry of all people in the United States who identify as Muslim in their faith. Trump reiterated these messages continuously throughout the campaign, leaving many Americans feeling empowered by the vows he has taken to target certain populations in our nation, based on their religious affiliation or descent. Coincidently, hate crimes in the United States went up six percent in 2015, with a recent surge following the election of a new president in early November of 2016.
FBI Uniform Crime Report Findings
These findings come as the Federal Bureau of Investigation releases its Uniform Crime Report, a report that collects data over the course of the year regarding hate crimes, where they were committed and against whom they were committed. The Report confirms that almost 260 hate crimes were committed against Muslim Americans in 2015, a stark increase from the 150 that were documented in 2014. While 2015 has seen a number of racially motivated terrorist attacks across the world, the Report confirms that well over half of these crimes were due to anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Hate crime monitors claim that this month has seen a rash of abuse aimed at minorities, not only in the general public, but at schools as well as religious centers.
The trend targeting specific populations of individuals based on religious affiliation, sexual orientation, and skin color, also saw an increase the week following the presidential election. Hate crimes against Muslim Americans are the highest they have been following 9/11, and this past year saw a sharp increase in hate crimes against transgender individuals as well, yet African American citizens were the most frequent victims of hate crimes due to race. As a result of the recent spike in hate crimes, United States Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, claimed that the United States Justice Department will be investigating whether reports recently received regarding intimidation and harassment will qualify as hate crimes and thus be in violation of civil rights laws. This comes as a response not only to the FBI report released, but also the alarm raised by numerous civil rights groups who have either experienced hate crimes or anti-minority behavior.
Hate crimes are defined in United States Code, section 249, for a number of different situations. For offenses that involve actual or perceived race, color, religion or national origin, if anyone, whether a police officer or with an official government position, causes bodily injury to any person, including through the use of a gun or a weapon, or attempts to do so, will be imprisoned for not more than 10 years. The offender can be imprisoned for any term deemed appropriate, including life, if death results from the offense or the offense includes kidnapping or aggravated abuse or attempt to kill the individual.
The Shepard Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act
Many hate crimes are difficult to prosecute due to the victim’s fear of their assailant and facing them in court. As a response to these trying situations, President Obama enacted the Shepard Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which increases penalties for those violent hate crimes, broadened federal jurisdiction for prosecuting these known hate crimes, and also recognized certain acts directed at an individual due to their assumed sexual orientation as federal hate crimes. This Act is now the single federal hate crime act that prosecutors can charge an offender under, which better assists attorneys throughout the country who are trying to bring justice for their clients who have experienced hate crimes or perceived hate crimes.
Contact a Criminal Attorney Now
Hate crimes are violent and shocking crimes against a human being, based on someone else’s perception, which are generally performed without knowing anything about the person prior to the engagement. Nobody should have to live in fear due to their religious affiliation, sexual orientation or the color of their skin. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a hate crime, our criminal defense attorneys will help you get justice. Please call the law offices of Remington & Dixon, PLLC today for a free consultation.
Brandon double-majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Throughout his career, Brandon has received numerous awards and recognition from his peers and agencies that rate attorneys. A few of these awards are from The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyer in 2014, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, Nation’s Top One Percent: National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015, Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in 2018 and 2019, and North Carolina Business Magazine: Legal Elite in 2019, among others.