Hate Crimes

January 8, 1993 – Volume 3, Issue 1
Are longer sentences for hate crimes constitutional? By Kenneth Jost


Crimes committed against individuals because of their race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation appear to be increasing in the United States. Whether the offenses are homophobic slurs, anti- Semitic vandalism or racially motivated assaults, experts say that bias-motivated crimes have an especially devastating effect on society at large, as well as on individual victims. To combat hate crimes, more than half the states have adopted laws providing longer sentences for certain offenses when they are motivated by specified types of prejudice. But some civil liberties advocates say the laws threaten freedom of speech. Two state supreme courts threw out such laws last summer. Now the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review one of those decisions, setting up a major legal test between civil rights and civil liberties.

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A Vietnamese premed student at the University of Miami is beaten to death by a gang of white youths after being taunted with racial epithets. A Jewish scholar is stabbed to death as black youths rampage in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. A black high school football star is pummeled on a Long Island beach by white teenagers wielding bats and sticks. A gay man is killed outside a Houston bar after being set upon by 10 young men armed with clubs and a knife. A white teenager is beaten by a group of blacks angry after watching “Mississippi Burning,” a movie about the history of the civil rights struggle.

The headlines call them “hate crimes.” Academics sometimes use more precise terms, like “bias-motivated crimes,” “ethnic intimidation” or “ethnoviolence.”

Whatever label is used, the incidents demonstrate that violence remains very much a part of the history of prejudice in American society. Prejudice against blacks, against Jews, against minority ethnic groups, against gay men and lesbians -- all these stains on America's stated commitment to tolerance and equal rights are tinged with the blood of people injured or killed for no reason other than their race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.

Even more distressing, hate crimes appear to be on the rise. Anti- Semitic incidents reached a new high in 1991, according to a Jewish civil rights group that has kept count since 1979. Reported violence against homosexuals rose 31 percent from 1990 to 1991 in five cities with programs for monitoring anti-gay incidents. More than one-third of the big-city mayors surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors reported that hate crimes increased in their jurisdictions from 1990 to 1991.

Racial and ethnic epithets and homophobic slurs have even spread to the sheltered settings of university campuses -- forcing students, faculty and administrators to confront difficult issues of how to combat prejudice without inhibiting academic freedom. Many universities adopted campus speech codes to protect students from public displays of intolerance only to be criticized by civil libertarians and political conservatives for trying to enforce a narrow, “politically correct” point of view on issues involving race, ethnicity and sexuality.

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on the controversy on the side of free speech. By a unanimous vote, the justices struck down a St. Paul, Minn., hate crime ordinance that had been used to prosecute a white teenager for burning a cross in the yard of a black family.The court's decision in the case -- called R.A.V. v. St. Paul -- was widely seen as spelling the end of campus speech codes and possibly under-mining other legal efforts against hate crimes.

Now, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a new challenge to hate crime laws. This one involves laws on the books in more than half of the states that provide longer sentences for certain crimes when they are motivated by specified kinds of prejudice. In two decisions last summer, the Wisconsin and Ohio supreme courts ruled that such statutes violate the First Amendment. Both states asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decisions, and just before Christmas the court agreed to hear the Wisconsin case (see p. 16).

Civil rights groups say the laws are needed to deter hate crimes and to remedy the special harm that victims suffer when they are singled out because of their race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation. They also argue that the laws do not infringe on freedom of speech because they punish conduct, not expression.

Some civil liberties experts disagree. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), for example, joined in challenging the Ohio law and also testified last summer against a bill in Congress that would have required increased sentences in federal courts for bias- motivated crimes. But some leading First Amendment experts say the penalty-enhancement approach is constitutional. The ACLU itself is divided on the issue. Some state chapters support their states' hate crime laws, and the ACLU's national board of directors is scheduled to act later this month on a report by a special committee that endorses such laws as long as specific guidelines are met.

As legal scholars, educators and legislators confront the constitutional and policy dilemmas posed by hate crimes, here are some of the major issues they will have to consider: Do campus speech codes unconstitutionally interfere with freedom of expression?

As many as 300 colleges and universities have adopted some form of policy aimed at preventing racial, ethnic, religious or homophobic harassment on campus. While some of the codes are largely symbolic, many include provisions for discipline that range from required counseling or public service to suspension or even expulsion.

The codes were adopted after ugly incidents of prejudice, intolerance and insensitivity on many campuses. (See story, p. 18.) Student groups and faculty members sympathetic to minority-group interests responded by urging their universities to take a variety of steps to counter the new wave of prejudice, including disciplinary codes prohibiting discriminatory harassment. They argued that the public displays of intolerance were incompatible with an academic environment and prevented students who were the targets of such harassment from fully participating in college life. Many university administrators -- concerned with stemming intolerance on their campuses and pressured to take some action -- went along with the idea.

Many students and faculty members, however, viewed the anti- harassment codes as a threat to freedom of expression. They argued that punishing speech -- however offensive -- violated First Amendment principles as well as the special regard for academic freedom that has been viewed as essential to the intellectual life of a university.

The issue of regulating racist speech was forcefully argued in June 1989 at an ACLU conference in Madison, Wis., by two of the leading advocates on the issue: Stanford Law School Professor Charles R. Lawrence III, who supports curbs on racist speech, and Nadine Strossen, then the general counsel and now the president of the ACLU, who opposes campus speech codes. 1

Lawrence, who is black, argued that racist speech has no intellectual content worthy of legal protection. He also strongly challenged the argument of free speech advocates that racist views can best be countered by unrestricted public dialogue -- the so-called “more speech” argument. Racist epithets and slurs, Lawrence argued, have a “pre-emptive effect” by leaving minorities speechless in the face of “verbal assaults,” thus excluding them from full participation in public debate.

Strossen, who is white, argued that campus speech codes were bound to have a chilling effect on debate about important issues involving religion, gender and race relations. She maintained, for example, that Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses might have been barred as offensive to a religious minority -- Muslims. Strossen also said that campus speech codes were likely to be counterproductive by giving increased attention to the types of speech that proponents of the codes want to suppress.

After what Lawrence called a “spirited” debate, the ACLU delegates rejected a resolution favoring some restrictions of racist speech on campuses. Instead, the delegates adopted a resolution endorsing educational activities to counter “racist, sexist, anti-semitic and homophobic behavior (including speech)” but opposing “efforts to limit or punish speech on university campuses.”

Over the next three years, the tide of political and legal opinion seemed to be moving against campus speech codes. Then, in June 1992, the Supreme Court's ruling in the R.A.V. case seemed to many observers to settle the debate by constitutional fiat. In striking down the St. Paul hate crime ordinance, the court declared that governments could not single out particular forms of expression for punishment on the basis of their content or viewpoint.

Rodney Smolla, a professor at the College of William and Mary's Marshall-Wythe Law School and a leading First Amendment expert, said afterward that the decision “largely closed the door on all hate speech regulation.” Supporters of the codes were more tentative, but acknowledged the ruling created a major legal hurdle. “We haven't crafted one that we think would pass muster,” said Deanna Duby, deputy legal director of People for the American Way, a nonpartisan constitutional rights organization, “but we're not ready to reach the conclusion that none would.” 2 Do laws increasing sentences for crimes motivated by prejudice violate First Amendment rights?

The idea of imposing special punishment on hate crimes originated with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B'nai B'rith, the Jewish civil rights group founded in 1913 to counter anti-Semitism (see p. 10). Beginning in 1981, the ADL, along with other civil rights groups, has pushed a model hate crime or “ethnic intimidation” law that increases the sentence for specified crimes -- for example, assault -- when they are committed “by reason of” the victim's race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.

Supporters of this approach make a simple, two-step argument to defend its constitutionality. First, they argue that the laws punish conduct, not expression -- and, indeed, conduct that the law already defines as criminal. “No one is punished merely for bigoted thoughts or speech,” ADL officials argued in a newsletter published after the R.A.V. decision. “Only when an individual's criminal conduct is prompted by demonstrated bigotry can a prosecutor seek a stepped-up penalty.” 3

Second, they point out that motivation has traditionally been a factor that a judge or jury could consider in deciding on a defendant's sentence. A hate crime law, they say, merely picks one particular type of motivation -- racial, religious or other prejudice -- and provides by statute for increased sentences in those cases.

Opponents, however, say that the laws inevitably amount to punishment of specific thoughts or expression in violation of the basic principles of freedom of speech. In a comprehensive law review article attacking the laws, Susan Gellman, an assistant Ohio public defender, wrote that the ADL model statute “is directed specifically toward the harboring and expression of bigoted sentiments; without them, there is no violation of the statute.” 4

Gellman, who represented defendants in the case that successfully challenged Ohio's hate crime law, attacked the statute under two other important First Amendment doctrines. First, she argued that the statutes are impermissibly vague. For example, she said the laws fail to specify whether the increased penalties apply when prejudice is one of several motivations for an offense rather than the sole motivation. Second, she contended that the laws are overbroad since they are likely to lead to detailed inquiries about a defendant's views, not just at the time of the offense but earlier, too. 5

These arguments persuaded the Wisconsin and Ohio supreme courts last summer to strike down state laws modeled after the ADL proposal. But Oregon's Supreme Court upheld a similar law just one day after the Ohio ruling.

All three state courts looked to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the R.A.V. case to support their position, even though the St. Paul ordinance differed from the ADL model law by directly prohibiting specified types of expression such as cross-burning or swastika- painting.

The Ohio and Wisconsin courts said the state laws had the same feature that the Supreme Court found unconstitutional in the St. Paul measure: They singled out particular viewpoints for criminal punishment. But the Oregon court cited other language in the Supreme Court opinion that said states could punish conduct as long as the conduct was not defined on the basis of “its expressive content.” Supporters of the laws cited the uncertainty over the precise meaning of the R.A.V. decision as a major reason for the Supreme Court to review the Ohio and Wisconsin cases. Are special penalties for bias-related crimes necessary or desirable?

Even if hate crime penalty-enhancement laws are held to be generally constitutional, Gellman and other critics contend that the measures are unnecessary and unwise for policy reasons. 6

First, these critics say, the laws are clearly unnecessary since, by definition, the offending acts are already illegal under separate laws. To buttress the point, they note that in many of the most prominent hate crime cases -- for example, the recent trials in the Crown Heights slaying and the killing of the Vietnamese student in Florida -- prosecutors have relied only on substantive criminal charges without invoking hate-crime sentencing provisions.

Second, the critics make what lawyers call the “slippery-slope” argument -- arguing that the laws will inevitably lead to police or prosecutorial abuse against people who hold unpopular viewpoints, possibly even against the very minority groups the laws are supposed to protect. For example, they note that one of the early cases brought under Florida's hate crime law was against a black man who called a white policeman a “cracker” while being arrested. (The charge was later dismissed for lack of evidence.)

Finally, the critics contend, some of the state laws provide for the hate crime evidence to be introduced in a sentencing hearing, where the defendant has fewer procedural rights than in the main part of a trial. The New Republic emphasized this point in an editorial criticizing the laws: “Hearsay evidence ... is admissible [in such hearings]. So is illegally seized evidence. There is no right to cross-examine your accusers. And there is no requirement that your bigotry be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.” 7

Supporters of hate crime laws say the critics' fears have simply not been borne out in the decade that these statutes have been on the books. “One cannot point to a single case of prosecutorial abuse,” says Michael Lieberman, the ADL's associate director and counsel. Lieberman acknowledges the criticism of allowing evidence of bigotry to be introduced in the sentencing phase, but he notes that the ADL model statute requires that the hate crime element be tried in the main part of the trial -- and be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Finally, supporters of the laws insist that the special penalty provisions are needed both to increase the sentence in some seemingly less serious cases and, more broadly, to counter the special harm that victims and society at large suffer from bias-motivated crimes.

Ohio Attorney General Lee Fisher, who sponsored the state's hate crime law as a member of the legislature, stressed that point in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the measure.

“Ethnic and racial crime tears more crucially at the fabric of society and magnifies exponentially the scope and effect of an unlawful act,” Fisher said in a statement. “It transforms an isolated encounter into a crime against the community, against humanity.”

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Violence against minorities -- to use the famous words of black militant H. Rap Brown -- is as American as apple pie.

America's first racial minority -- African Americans -- were brought to this country in chains and maintained in slavery through continual violence or the threat of violence. Since then, wave after wave of immigrants have encountered both physical violence and pervasive discrimination: the Irish in the early 19th century, the Eastern European Jews of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Mexicans and Central Americans of the late 20th century. And while official and institutional discrimination has eased, many racial and religious minorities continue to live with the fear of becoming the latest victim of an American hate crime.

Minority groups have mobilized to combat hate crimes, sometimes in advance of broader efforts to gain equal rights. The NAACP, for example, emerged as a major civil rights organization for blacks in the early 20th century with its unsuccessful campaign for a federal anti-lynching law. More recently, the fight against anti-gay violence has been a major mobilizing tool for gay-rights organizations.

Since the late 1970s, a broad array of efforts to combat hate crimes has been carried out by organizations representing minority group interests at the local, state and federal levels. Those efforts have yielded passage of some form of hate crime laws in virtually every state and, in 1990, enactment of a federal law to gather uniform national statistics on hate crimes. The leading role in those legislative struggles has been played by the Anti-Defamation League, working with black civil rights organizations, gay-rights groups and, in the last several years, Asian American organizations. Violence Against African Americans

Violence has been an ever-present fact of life for African Americans. 8 The violence of slavery was followed by a reign of terror in the former slave states of the South. Blacks attempting to exercise their newly recognized rights were often subject to violence and physical intimidation. According to a study by the NAACP, more than 3,200 blacks -- men, women and children -- were killed by lynchings, burnings or other violence between 1889 and 1919. The Ku Klux Klan was responsible for much of the violence, but its members were rarely brought to justice.

Violence and persecution against African Americans expanded to the North after the great migration of blacks that began after World War I. Lynching came to an end, but blacks were often subject to oppressive treatment by police and the courts. Blacks who tried to move into white neighborhoods were often met with violence and intimidation, including cross-burnings on their property -- a practice started by the Klan.

As the civil rights movement gained momentum in the 1950s and '60s, violence intensified. The Southern Regional Council counted at least 138 race-related bombings between June 1, 1956, and June 1, 1963. On Sept. 15, 1963, the entire nation was shaken by the deaths of four young black girls in the Sunday morning bombing of a black church in Birmingham, Ala. Throughout the period, civil rights activists -- black and white -- were frequently kicked, beaten, clubbed or shot; many were killed. Legal action against perpetrators was rare.

Egregious cases of officially sanctioned violence against blacks subsided with the passage of civil rights legislation in the 1960s and the growing political power of newly enfranchised blacks. But blacks continued to be the target of sporadic attacks. An FBI official, testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee in August 1992, said that preliminary analysis of data compiled under the 1990 Hate Crime Statistics Act (see p. 13) showed that blacks remain the most frequent target of bias-motivated crimes. 9

Many acts of violence are directed at blacks who move into white neighborhoods. The Southern Poverty Law Center's Klanwatch Project calls the practice “move-in violence.” In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in June 1988, the center cataloged such incidents from 19 states over an 18-month period -- ranging from verbal harassment to cross-burning and arson. 10

In 1986, another name became synonymous with racial violence against blacks: Howard Beach. On the evening of Dec. 20, 1986, Michael Griffith, a black construction worker whose car had broken down in a white neighborhood in Queens, N.Y., was chased to his death by a gang of white teenagers. Griffith and his two companions had gone for help when they were attacked by the white youths, some of them carrying baseball bats or tree limbs and shouting, “Nigger, you're in the wrong neighborhood.” Griffith tried to flee across a highway, where he was struck by a car and killed.

New York Mayor Edward L. Koch called the killing “a modern-day lynching.” A year later -- following a closely watched, three-month trial -- three teenagers -- Jon Lester, Scott Kern and Jason Ladone -- were convicted of second-degree manslaughter in the case, while a fourth was acquitted. The predominantly white jury's refusal to convict the teens of more serious, second-degree murder charges touched off protests and disorder in some black sections of the city. Violence Against Asian Americans

Like blacks, Asian Americans have been the victims of pervasive institutional discrimination for much of American history -- often punctuated by violence. 11

In the late 19th century, Chinese workers brought to the Western United States to build the railroads or operate mines were viewed with open hostility by many American workers. Anti-Chinese sentiments often erupted into violence. In October 1871, a white mob massacred roughly 20 Chinese in Los Angeles and burned and looted their homes and stores. Anti-Chinese violence spread to other cities in California and elsewhere in the West, including San Francisco, Denver and Seattle. In 1887, 31 Chinese miners were murdered in the Snake River (Oregon) Massacre.

After Chinese immigration was cut off in 1882, anti-Asian sentiment was directed against Japanese and later Filipinos. Anti- Filipino riots broke out in Washington state and California in 1928 and 1930.

Throughout this period, people of Asian ancestry were subject to a host of discriminatory state laws that, for example, prohibited them from owning land, required them to attend segregated schools and barred intermarriage. The discriminatory laws fell with the civil rights era of the 1960s, but anti-Asian prejudice persisted and, in the '80s, flared into a number of ugly incidents. Two racially motivated killings were, as the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights put it, “etched into the national consciousness as examples of racism against Asian Americans.”

In June 1982, Vincent Chin, a 27-year-old Chinese-American, was fatally beaten with a baseball bat outside a Detroit bar by two white automobile factory workers who called him a Jap and blamed him for the loss of jobs in the auto industry. In March 1983, the assailants -- Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz -- were allowed to plead guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter and were each sentenced to three years' probation. While the state charges were pending, a federal grand jury also indicted the pair for violating Chin's civil rights. Ebens was convicted and given a 25-year prison sentence, while Nitz was acquitted. A federal appeals court later overturned Ebens' conviction, however, and he was acquitted in a second trial in 1987. Thus, the case ended with neither assailant serving a day in prison.

In July 1989, Jim (Ming Hai) Loo, a 24-year-old Chinese American living in Raleigh, N.C., was fatally injured in a racially motivated fight with two brothers -- Robert and Lloyd Piche -- who mistook him for a Vietnamese and blamed him for the deaths of Americans in the Vietnam War. The fight, which began in a pool hall and then moved outside, ended when Loo was struck in the head with a pistol and fell face-forward onto a broken beer bottle. The bottle pierced his eye and caused a bone fragment to enter his brain, resulting in his death two days later.

Robert Piche, who struck the fatal blow, was found guilty of second-degree murder in state court and given prison sentences totaling 37 years. Lloyd Piche, who made most of the racial remarks, drew only a six-month sentence for two misdemeanor counts in state court. But he was then indicted on federal civil rights charges, convicted, and in October 1992 given a four-year prison sentence. It was the first successful federal civil rights prosecution where the victim was an Asian American. Violence Against Jews

The centuries-old prejudice against Jews has been less pronounced in the United States than in many other countries, but it has been strong enough to produce widespread discrimination against Jews and occasional outbreaks of anti-Semitic vandalism and violence. One of those incidents -- the trial and lynching of Leo Frank early in the 20th century -- led to the creation of one of the leading civil rights organization in the fight against hate crimes, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.

Frank, who was prominent in Atlanta's Jewish community, was convicted in 1913 of murdering a teenage girl who worked in the factory that he managed. The trial was conducted amid virtual pandemonium, with spectators in the courtroom chanting, “Hang the Jew.” The evidence was circumstantial. Doubts about the conviction led Georgia's Gov. John Slaton in 1915 to commute Frank's death sentence to life imprisonment. But months later, a mob stormed Frank's prison cell and lynched him. 12 Decades later, proof emerged that a janitor at the factory actually killed the girl.

The Jewish organization B'nai B'rith had been studying how to counter growing anti-Semitism for several years before it launched ADL in 1913, just as Frank's trial was galvanizing the nation's Jewish community. The league's charter declared its immediate purpose to be stopping the defamation of Jewish people. Its program entailed overt tension with First Amendment values. It promised, for example, to urge public and private libraries to remove books that “maliciously and scurrilously traduce the character of the Jew.” 13

Five decades later -- in 1960 -- a sudden outbreak of more than 600 incidents of swastika-painting at synagogues around the country prompted the ADL to commission an extensive study of anti-Semitism that documented the persistence of anti-Jewish feelings among large segments of the American population. Then, beginning in 1979, ADL began an annual “audit” of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States. It counted just 129 incidents that year, but registered higher numbers over the next decade -- in part because of better reporting. After more than 1,300 incidents were counted in 1981 and 1,400 in 1982, the number of episodes declined for several years. But incidents have been rising since 1987 and, in 1991, reached a record high of nearly 1,900.

Throughout the 1980s, ADL data show, most anti-Semitic incidents involved vandalism, such as desecration of synagogues or Jewish cemeteries, rather than crimes against individuals -- harassment, threats or assaults. Relatively few involved serious injuries.* In 1991, however, anti-Semitic crimes against people outnumbered property crimes for the first time. (See graph, p. 11.) Footnote *

In 1991, an incident in New York City showed the potential for violence in the growing tensions between blacks and Jews. The Aug. 19 incident in the black and Jewish neighborhood of Crown Heights in Brooklyn was touched off when a young black girl died after she was struck by a car driven by a Hasidic Jew. Black youths began roaming the streets, and one of them jumped Yankel Rosenbaum, a 29-year-old Hasidic scholar visiting New York from Australia.

Rosenbaum was fatally stabbed, but as he lay near death in a hospital he identified his assailant, Lemrick Nelson Jr. A year later, however -- on Oct. 29, 1992 -- a predominantly minority jury acquitted Nelson of all charges. Jurors said prosecutors had failed to prove their case, but to many Jews in New York and elsewhere the verdict was an incomprehensible miscarriage of justice. Violence Against Gays and Lesbians

The strong social taboo against homosexuality has kept the vast majority of gay men and lesbians “in the closet” for most of American history. Paradoxically, as changing social attitudes allowed homosexuals to become more open about their sexual orientation over the last several decades, anti-gay prejudice also intensified in some quarters -- and produced an increase in the outbreaks of anti-gay violence.

As Gary Comstock explains in his 1991 book, Violence Against Lesbians and Gay Men, homosexuals have been particularly susceptible to violence because of the criminal laws prohibiting sodomy. Even though the laws have been enforced only sporadically, police sometimes used unnecessary force and violence when they did arrest homosexuals. The possibility of prosecution also discouraged homosexuals from reporting incidents of violence. For example, Comstock reports that the robbery of homosexuals by prostitutes, male or female, was common enough before World War II to give rise to a slang term for the practice: “to make a clip.” 14

As with other victims of bias-motivated violence, gays and lesbians have been mobilized into a more powerful political constituency in part by particularly dramatic examples of anti-gay violence. Two episodes stand out in the history of the gay-rights movement.

On June 27, 1969, New York City police raided a gay bar in Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn. Police brutality against patrons of gay bars had been common for two decades, but this night the patrons responded in kind, throwing beer cans and bottles at the police. The rioting went on for four days, and the anniversary of the rebellion is now celebrated as a turning point in the creation of a more militant gay-rights movement.

A decade later, the assassination of a hero of San Francisco's gay community again energized the gay-rights movement. On Nov. 27, 1978, Harvey Milk, the first openly gay member of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, was shot and killed by a former supervisor, Dan White, who also killed Mayor George Moscone in the same incident. The motive for the killings was political: Milk had successfully opposed White's reappointment to the board. But for the city's large gay community, Milk's death was a grievous shock -- made all the more painful by the relatively lenient, seven-year sentence White later received for the killings.

In the 1980s, gay-rights groups increased their efforts to document and combat anti-gay violence. A survey by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) in 1984 found that one-fifth of the gay men responding and one-tenth of the lesbians reported that they had been physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation. About the same number said they had been subjected to police abuse. 15

The survey's figures -- based on what statisticians call a “self- selecting sample” of people who chose to respond -- were subject to challenge. But, whatever the exact extent of anti-gay violence, the specific incidents that the task force included in its report provided chilling evidence of the virulence of anti-gay prejudice. In 1980, a man shouting that he hated “faggots” sprayed gunfire at a New York City gay bar, killing two patrons. In Maine, a gay man was thrown to his death from a bridge by three teenagers in 1984. In 1985, a Los Angeles woman was burned with acid thrown in her face as she left a gay community center.

In 1991, the NGLTF tried to establish whether anti-gay violence was increasing by comparing the number of incidents over time in five metropolitan areas with well-established programs of monitoring anti- gay violence: Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City and San Francisco. The study showed that the number of incidents -- totaling 1,822 in the five cities -- had increased 31 percent over the previous year and 161 percent since 1988. (See table, above.) Nationwide, the group counted more than a dozen killings involving anti-gay violence in 1991. 16 Hate Crime Laws

When the Anti-Defamation League recorded a sharp increase in anti- Semitic incidents in 1981, it decided to take action. “We recognized there needed to be a law enforcement response and a legal response,” says Associate Director Michael Lieberman.

The proposed model law that the ADL drafted for state and local legislative bodies to consider had two main components. The institutional-vandalism statute -- aimed at the most common anti- Semitic incidents -- prohibited and provided increased penalties for vandalizing, defacing or damaging places of worship, cemeteries, schools or community centers. The second section, the intimidation statute, provided for enhanced penalties for such crimes as harassment, menacing or assault if they were committed “by reason of” the victim's race, color, religion, national origin or sexual orientation. The statute also allowed for civil suits involving bias- related offenses, with provisions for obtaining injunctions to prohibit the practices and recovering punitive damages and attorney's fees. 17

By 1991, the ADL claimed that all but four states had adopted some form of hate crime statute and that 29 had enacted bias-motivated intimidation laws. (See map, p. 13.) All but one of the 29 state laws provided for stiffer criminal penalties, while 18 states adopted the civil-penalty provisions. Race, religion and ethnicity were included as protected categories in all but one of the laws, but sexual orientation was covered by just 13 -- less than half. On the other hand, 10 laws also included gender as a protected category -- a provision strongly backed by some women's rights groups. Footnote *

In many states, the laws were passed with relatively little controversy. Civil rights groups effectively marshaled their forces to lobby for the laws, and the apparent growth of organized hate groups in the 1980s helped give a sense of urgency to the legislation. 18

Some dissenting voices were heard, however. In 1990, for example, an Arizona legislative committee rejected a hate crime bill with members voicing concerns about the increased penalties and possible First Amendment issues. The same year in Georgia, fundamentalist and right-wing groups opposed to a hate crime bill's sexual-orientation provision lobbied the measure to a 109-63 defeat in the state House Of Representatives. 19

In addition, enforcement of state laws began to produce court tests of the statutes, with defendants challenging the measures on a variety of First Amendment and other grounds. In New York and Oregon, state laws survived court challenges, but in 1990 Michigan's broader statute was struck down by a trial-level court. 20 Congress Passes Hate Crime Statistics Act

Meanwhile, beginning in 1985, Congress was also considering a narrower bill to require the Justice Department to gather uniform national statistics on bias-motivated crimes. The legislation was strongly pushed by the same civil rights forces that had been lobbying state lawmakers, but it was slowed by opposition from the Justice Department. Steven Schlesinger, director of the department's Bureau of Justice Statistics, told a Senate committee in June 1988 that the data collection would be “extremely difficult and expensive to perform.” 21

More significantly, the bill was blocked in the Senate by Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., who opposed the provision dealing with anti-gay crimes. Helms' opposition was finally overcome in early 1990. The Justice Department also eased its stance against the bill, and President Bush praised the measure as he signed it into law on April 23, 1990. “The faster we can find out about these hideous crimes, the faster we can track down the bigots who commit them,” Bush said. 22

Implementation of the law proved to be anything but speedy, however. While the FBI won praise for its efforts to provide training for local law enforcement agencies, the law's most specific goal -- collecting national statistics on hate crimes -- had not been realized by the summer of 1992. Two congressional subcommittees called hearings in May and August to examine the delay. They were told that the Justice Department had been slowed by problems in developing forms for reporting offenses and that budgetary problems were hampering many state and local agencies in complying with the new reporting system. (See story, p. 6.) Supreme Court Ruling

St. Paul, Minn., enacted a local hate crime ordinance in 1982. Instead of adopting the ADL's penalty-enhancement model, however, St. Paul decided to create a new offense: bias-motivated disorderly conduct. Under the ordinance, anyone who “places on public or private property a symbol, object, appellation, characterization or graffiti” that “arouses anger, alarm or resentment in others on the basis of race, color, creed or religion” was guilty of the misdemeanor offense of disorderly conduct. The city amended the law in 1989 to specifically include a burning cross or a Nazi swastika in the prohibitions and in 1990 to prohibit actions based on sexual prejudice.

In the summer of 1990, prosecutors invoked the St. Paul ordinance for the first time. A group of teenagers was charged with placing a burning cross in the front yard of Russ and Laura Jones, who had recently become the first black family to move into a white working- class block in East St. Paul. Besides the St. Paul ordinance, the defendants were also charged with committing a racially motivated assault in violation of the state's hate crime law.

The defendants in the case included Robert A. Viktora, then 17, a high school dropout and a “skinhead” -- a rapidly growing, youth- oriented group that preaches violence against blacks, Jews and gays. Viktora's court-appointed attorney, Edward J. Cleary, decided to challenge the St. Paul ordinance on constitutional grounds. Cleary did not contest the state charge against his client, but he said the local ordinance was overbroad because it directly punished “expressive” conduct. “In a country that values free speech, we should not have a law that says that expressing certain ideas, however offensive they may be, is in itself a crime,” Cleary told one reporter. 23

The Ramsey County juvenile court judge who heard Viktora's plea agreed and struck the law down. But in January 1991, the Minnesota Supreme Court revived the law. The court narrowly construed the law to apply only to what the U.S. Supreme Court had called in a 1942 case (Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire) “fighting words” -- words that have “a direct tendency to cause acts of violence by the person to whom, individually, the remark is addressed.” Under that construction, the state court concluded, the law was valid.

On June 10, 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to review Viktora's case, which was formally called R.A.V. v. St. Paul, since juveniles are ordinarily not identified by name in juvenile court cases. The high court's action signaled a likely inclination to overturn the law. And even many supporters of the law conceded it had problems. The Anti-Defamation League filed a brief defending the law -- as narrowed by the Minnesota court -- even though officials acknowledged the ordinance went beyond the ADL's recommend-ed statute.

Ramsey County prosecutor Tom Foley, who was to argue the case before the Supreme Court, also acknowledged the law could not be applied literally. “If the cross had been burned down at the corner, at the middle of the day, at a protest, that's probably not something you could prosecute,” Foley told a reporter on the eve of the arguments. “What if it's midnight, and right in front of the Joneses' house? That's closer to the line.” 24 A Divided Court

The Supreme Court's decision on June 22, 1992, however, went further than the parties to the case or most observers had expected. The justices voted unanimously to strike down the St. Paul ordinance, but they divided into two camps in explaining the decision. A minority of four justices concluded that the law was overbroad because, even under the Minnesota court's ruling, it could be applied to protected forms of expression. On that basis, the four justices said, the law had to be struck down, but a narrower one might survive.

A five-justice majority, however, concluded that the ordinance was unconstitutional because it impermissibly singled out for prosecution specific types of expression -- racial, religious or sexual insults -- on the basis of their content. “The First Amendment does not permit St. Paul to impose special prohibitions on those speakers who express views on disfavored subjects,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority.

Scalia emphasized that the cross-burning could have been punished under several other laws -- some of them carrying stiffer penalties than the St. Paul ordinance. But to pass constitutional muster, he said, any law limiting forms of expression had to be free of “content discrimination.” A law targeting a particular kind of bigotry would not pass that test.

The four justices in the minority sharply challenged Scalia's reasoning and indirectly accused him of harboring a broader, unstated agenda. Justice Byron R. White said Scalia's rationale would prevent the use of civil rights laws in cases where racial epithets or sexual harassment created a “hostile work environment.” Justice Harry A. Blackmun implied that Scalia's real goal was to nullify campus speech codes. “I fear that the Court has been distracted from its proper mission by the temptation to decide the issue over ‘politically correct speech' and ‘cultural diversity,' neither of which is presented here,” Blackmun wrote.

Some observers outside the court also saw evidence of a conservative agenda in Scalia's opinion -- and in the way the justices divided. Scalia led a predominantly conservative bloc that also included Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter and Clarence Thomas. There was a more liberal cast to the four-justice minority of White, Blackmun, John Paul Stevens and Sandra Day O'Connor.

Supporters of hate crime laws tried to counter a broad reading of the court's decision. ADL officials issued statements saying that hate crimes were still against the law and that their approach of increasing penalties for bias-motivated offenses would be upheld. But before the summer ended, state supreme courts in Wisconsin and Ohio had reached the opposite conclusion and decided to strike down hate crime laws directly modeled after the ADL proposal.

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* One dramatic exception was the murder of Alan Berg, a Jewish radio talk show host in Denver, in 1984 by members of an anti-Semitic, white supremacist group.

*The National Organization for Women and the Center for Women Policy Studies say offenses such as rape and domestic violence should be counted as hate crimes. They argue that, as with other hate crimes, these offenses are committed against women simply because of their gender. Some civil rights groups are lukewarm toward the idea, while law enforcement organizations strongly oppose it. They contend that rape and spousal abuse differ significantly from bias - motivated crimes. The Anti-Defamation League's model law does not include gender as a protected category, but the organization supported a federal hate crime sentencing- enhancement bill passed by the House of Representatives in 1992 that covered crimes against women.

Current Situation

After more than a decade of steady progress, the proponents of legal restrictions on hate speech and hate crimes suffered a number of setbacks in 1992.

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the R.A.V. case cast doubt on the basic premise of hate crime laws: that the government can impose special punishment for offenses on the basis of racial, religious or sexual prejudice. The decision strengthened the legal critique of campus speech codes and led some educators to predict that most codes would either be repealed or ignored. On Sept. 11, the Wisconsin Board of Regents voted to scrap the university's code altogether.

Supporters of hate crime laws, however, insisted that increased sentences for bias-motivated offenses could pass constitutional muster. In the face of the R.A.V. decision, they pressed their effort in Congress to pass a federal hate-crime act -- and came close to success on the final day of the session. Meanwhile, after two state supreme courts struck down hate-crime penalty-enhancement statutes, supporters of the laws joined in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the decisions. Courts Rule on State Laws

The Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision to strike down the state's hate crime law came just one day after the U.S. Supreme Court's R.A.V. decision. “The hate crime statute enhances the punishment of bigoted criminals because they are bigoted,” the Wisconsin court declared June 23 in its 5-2 ruling. “Punishment of one's thought, however repugnant the thought, is unconstitutional.” Ohio's Supreme Court used similar language Aug. 26 when it unanimously struck down the Ohio law, saying the measure created a “thought crime” in violation of state and federal free speech provisions.

The Wisconsin case arose from an uncommon prosecution for anti- white bias. Todd Mitchell, a black teenager from Kenosha, was convicted of encouraging a group of friends to assault a white teenager on Oct. 7, 1989. Mitchell and his friends had just seen the movie “Mississippi Burning,” an account of the civil rights struggle, and were angry about a scene in which a white man beat a young black boy who was praying. “There goes a white boy; go get him,” Mitchell was quoted as saying. The victim, Gregory Riddick, was severely beaten and may have suffered permanent brain damage.

Wisconsin's hate crime law, passed in 1988, allows judges to add up to five years to a defendant's sentence if the defendant “intentionally selects [the victim] ... because of [his] race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry.” Mitchell received the maximum two-year sentence for aggravated battery and an additional two years under the hate crime provision.

The challenge to the Ohio law arose from four separate cases involving 11 defendants, all of them white. In one of the cases, two men were charged with threatening a white couple because they had black visitors in their home. Two other cases involved defendants charged with threats and racial slurs against blacks. In a final case, seven defendants were charged with chasing and taunting a black teenager; one of the defendants hit the victim with a baseball bat.

Ohio's law, passed in 1986, is copied almost verbatim from the ADL model and covers crimes committed “by reason of” the victim's race, color, religion or national origin. It provides for increasing the severity of an offense by one grade under Ohio's sentencing scheme. Only one of four Ohio cases went to trial; the defendant in that case had drawn an enhanced sentence of 1-1/2 years' imprisonment for aggravated menacing after using racial slurs and threats in a dispute at a state park.

Just one day after the Ohio ruling, Oregon's Supreme Court unanimously upheld its ethnic-intimidation law in a case involving an ethnically motivated attack on two Hispanics. The Oregon court curtly dismissed the free speech arguments against the law, saying the measure “proscribes and punishes committing an act, not holding a belief.”

After the Ohio and Wisconsin attorneys general offices asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the rulings, the ADL and several other civil rights organizations filed “friend-of-the-court” briefs also urging the justices to settle the issue. The ADL called the hate crime laws “a powerful tool in redressing the problem” of ethnic violence, but said the two state court rulings had produced “a state of perilous flux and turmoil” on the legal issue.

On Dec. 14, the justices announced they would hear the Wisconsin case during their current term, but took no action on the Ohio case. Court observers surmised the justices had probably decided to use Wisconsin's case as the best vehicle for considering the constitutional issues. Ohio's case, which appeared to be based in part on the state constitution, might then be returned to the state court after the Wisconsin case is ruled on. The schedule for briefs in the Wisconsin case indicated that the justices might hear arguments on the case in April, with a decision likely as the court ends its 1992-93 term in late June or early July. Action on Capitol Hill

Supporters got a more favorable reading on the constitutionality of hate crime laws in a hearing on a federal bill before a congressional subcommittee in late July. The bill, introduced by Rep. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., would have directed the U.S. Sentencing Commission to develop guidelines increasing the sentence by three offense levels for any crime “motivated by hatred, bias or prejudice, based on the [victim's] actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.”

Three prominent constitutional law experts told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime that they believed the basic idea of stiffer sentences for bias-motivated crimes was constitutional.* Although other experts questioned the constitutionality of the bill, the positive testimony helped the bill win approval from the full Judiciary Committee on Sept. 30. Footnote *

With Congress nearing adjournment, Schumer succeeded in getting the House to pass the bill by voice vote on Oct. 3. But in the Senate, North Carolina's Helms, who had slowed passage of the hate-crime statistics act with his opposition to coverage of anti-gay offenses, placed a “hold” on the bill to prevent it from being brought up for a vote. Schumer plans to reintroduce the measure in the 103rd Congress.

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* The three experts were Harvard Law School Professor Laurence H. Tribe, a leading liberal scholar; Floyd Abrams, a First Amendment lawyer for news organizations; and conservative legal commentator Bruce Fein.


The Supreme Court's decision to review the Wisconsin hate crime statute may yield an authoritative ruling in the early summer on some of the constitutional issues raised by penalty-enhancement laws. “It won't resolve all the questions about these laws,” says Paul Lundsten, the assistant Wisconsin attorney general handling the case, “but hopefully it will resolve the core question of whether you can have this type of statute and have it pass constitutional muster.”

Opponents of the laws hope the court will follow its approach in the R.A.V. case and rule out any extra punishment for crimes committed on account of racial or ethnic prejudice. Supporters of the penalty- enhancement statutes, on the other hand, hope that one or more of the five justices in the R.A.V. majority will shift positions and join the four concurring justices to produce a new majority in favor of a less absolute free speech approach to this issue.

The immediate effect of the Supreme Court's action, however, may be to slow developments on the issue elsewhere. Challenges to hate crime laws are pending before the Florida and Vermont supreme courts and in lower courts in several other states, including California. Some of those courts may hold up any rulings to await the Supreme Court's decision.

In Congress, too, lawmakers may await the Supreme Court's decision before acting on Rep. Schumer's proposed federal hate crime sentencing law. With a favorable court ruling, Anti-Defamation League counsel Lieberman says the bill's prospects are “very good,” though he says there may be “some kind of fine-tuning with the procedural issues.” Lieberman notes that President-elect Bill Clinton endorsed the bill in a campaign appearance before a B'nai B'rith convention. Potential for Violence

As the legal battles continue, the potential for racial, ethnic or homophobic violence remains high. In the aftermath of the acquittal in the Crown Heights killing (see p. 10), tensions between blacks and Jews in New York rose to the boiling point -- creating a political crisis for the city's black mayor, David N. Dinkins. In Los Angeles, relations between blacks and whites have been strained ever since the acquittals of the white officers charged in the Rodney King beating case and the ensuing rioting and looting afterwards. Across the country, immigrants report a seeming increase in hostility that often results in harassment or violence. 25

The legal system's response to these tensions is necessarily incomplete. The vast majority of hate crimes never result in prosecution. In Los Angeles County, a total of 670 hate crimes were reported in 1991, but the district attorney took only 21 cases to court. 26 Those figures suggest that more effective work by police and prosecutors -- and greater cooperation by the public in apprehending hate crime offenders -- may be more important to deterring racial and ethnic violence than the specific penalties provided for such offenses.

In addition, hate crimes can be successfully prosecuted without special laws. In St. Paul, the lone adult charged in the cross-burning incident in the R.A.V. case is facing sentencing after pleading guilty to a federal civil rights violation. 27 In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the first defendant to go to trial for the slaying of Vietnamese immigrant Luyen Phan Nguyen was given a 50-year prison sentence Dec. 8 after being convicted of second-degree murder; other defendants face trials this January and March. 28

In any event, the real challenge is to prevent violence and harassment by reducing tensions. But the rapid social changes, economic insecurity and increased assertiveness by minority groups that helped fuel the apparent increase in hate crimes in the 1980s are continuing in the '90s. Experts at the National Institute Against Prejudice and Violence in Baltimore warn of increased tensions in the workplace as employers and employees deal with the new reality of an increasingly diverse work force. President-elect Clinton's promised lifting of the military's ban on homosexuals could produce a backlash affecting gays and lesbians in the armed forces. The kind of violence that erupted in Los Angeles and New York could easily be touched off by a racial or ethnic spark in any of America's big cities.

During the sentencing hearing for her son's killer last month, Thang Nguyen expressed incredulity at the motive of his assailants. “How can they do this to my son?” she asked rhetorically. “[Do] they hate my son so much because my son is different?”

The sad answer is that bigotry is indeed the motive for an uncounted number of crimes committed in this country, and neither the legal system nor society at large has a complete strategy for stopping them.

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Are hate crime penalty-enhancement laws constitutional?


Laurence H. Tribe
Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School,. From testimony before House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Law On A Federal Hate Crime Sentencing-Enhancement Bill, July 29, 1992.

Enhancing a criminal sentence for any “hate crime” ... in no way creates a “thought crime” or penalizes anyone's conduct based upon a non-proscribable viewpoint or message that such conduct contains or expresses. In this crucial respect, the trigger for enhanced punishment under the proposed act differs completely from the constitutionally problematic trigger for punishment under the St. Paul ordinance struck down by the Supreme Court in the R.A.V. case.

It is certainly true that the evidence tending to show that a defendant's conduct was in fact motivated by racial or similar hatred or bias might in a particular case include statements made by the defendant before, during or after the alleged conduct. But nothing in the R.A.V. decision creates a constitutional exclusionary rule requiring government to be blind to words and statements insofar as they shed light on a constitutionally permissible element of an offense....

Nothing in the holding or rationale of the R.A.V. decision suggests that a state or the United States must be neutral as between racially or religiously or sexually motivated assaults or other offenses, and otherwise identical conduct that lacks this sort of motive. The First Amendment's commitment to a society in which government may never target particular disfavored views or topics for special punishment hardly entails a commitment to a society in which government is indifferent to the special evil of attacks motivated by hatred or bias....

Whatever else it did, the R.A.V. decision...did not spell constitutional doom for all such laws....Independent of R.A.V., of course...other constitutional constraints must be complied with in drafting legislation of this kind. In particular, the equality component of the Fifth Amendment's due process clause would, of course, raise issues quite apart from the First Amendment if Congress were to impose more severe punishment upon offenders motivated by anti-black bias than by anti-white bias, or were to treat religiously motivated attacks against one religious group more severely than religiously motivated attacks against another religious group. But the proposed statute does nothing of this kind.


Susan Gellman
Assistant Public Defender, Ohio Public Defender Commission,. From testimony before House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Law on a Federal Hate Crime Sentencing-Enhancement Bill, July 29, 1992.

The drafters of HR 4797 were acting with the best of intentions. Bigotry and bigotry-related crime are indeed serious problems in our society. However, neither the seriousness of the problem nor the laudable objectives of the bill eliminate the necessity of compliance with the Constitution.

In its present form, HR 4797 is unconstitutional. As it is both content-based and viewpoint-based, it directly violates the First Amendment.... In addition, the bill indirectly violates the First Amendment through its inevitable (and probably exclusive) reliance on protected expression and association for evidence of the “hatred, bias or prejudice” element, and through its chill of protected expression. Furthermore, HR 4797 violates the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment because it is impermissibly vague in several respects, giving inadequate notice of what it prohibits and inviting arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. Finally, the bill violates the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment because it treats people who commit the same offense differently based upon their government- disapproved beliefs....

In R.A.V. vs. City of St. Paul, the Supreme Court stressed that the First Amendment forbids content-based and viewpoint-based punishment of expression, even expression that is proscribable on other bases.... By the same token, government may not punish proscribable conduct at one level, and then impose additional penalties when the conduct evidences a government-disapproved message or opinion....

The drafters of the bill commendably wished to address the special pain of the victims of bias-motivated crime, and the indirect effects upon others. Bigotry and hatred surely do cause fear, sorrow and alarm when they are expressed through criminal acts. However, bigotry and hatred also cause fear, sorrow and alarm when they are expressed through books, speeches and rallies. Without question, the First Amendment forbids the punishment of those activities....

Tying the punishment of opinion to a punishment for illegal conduct does not avoid the constitutional violation. Indeed, because all the conduct is already punishable, the additional penalty is imposed solely for the offender's beliefs, and only those beliefs that the government declares disfavored.

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1960sCivil rights movement achieves important victories. Congress passes legislation prohibiting racial, religious or ethnic discrimination.
1964The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations and federal funding on the basis of race, religion or national origin. The law also gives the Justice Department power to act to protect civil rights.
June 27, 1969Gay patrons of the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village riot after being ejected by New York police. The riot becomes a rallying point for a more militant gay-rights movement.
1970sAffirmative action programs fuel tensions between whites and racial minorities. Immigration to the United States from Asian countries increases. The Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith (ADL) reports increases in anti-Semitic incidents.
1975A Yale University commission rejects a proposal to regulate racist speech, saying it would threaten freedom of expression.
Nov. 27, 1978Harvey Milk, the first openly gay member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, is shot and killed in his office. The assailant, Dan White, is later convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to seven years, eight months in prison.
1980sRacial tensions increase on college and university campuses, leading to adoption of codes prohibiting “discriminatory harassment.” Gay-rights movement wins passage of anti-discrimination legislation in some cities and states, but also produces backlash from opponents of homosexuality. U.S. economic rivalry with Japan fuels anti-Japanese sentiment.
1981The ADL drafts model legislation to increase penalties for committing criminal offenses by reason of the victim's race, color, religion, sex or sexual orientation. Laws based on the ADL model are adopted in more than 20 states over the next decade.
June 19, 1982Vincent Chin, a Chinese American, is fatally beaten by two automobile factory workers in Detroit. The assailants later plead guilty to manslaughter and are given probation.
Dec. 20, 1986A gang of white youths in New York's Howard Beach assaults three young black men and chases one -- Michael Griffith -- to his death on a nearby highway. Three of the defendants are later convicted of manslaughter and assault.
June 16, 1989The American Civil Liberties Union adopts a position opposing restrictions on racist speech on campuses.
Sept. 22, 1989A federal judge strikes down the University of Michigan's policy on discriminatory harassment, calling it overbroad and vague.
April 23, 1990President Bush signs into law the Hate Crime Statistics Act, requiring the FBI to compile annual figures on hate crimes across the country.
1990sCriticism of campus speech codes mounts from conservatives and civil liberties groups. State and local hate crime laws face legal challenges.
Aug. 19, 1991Yankel Rosenbaum, a young Jewish scholar, is stabbed to death during an anti-Jewish rampage in the predominantly black Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. The man charged with the killing is acquitted a year later.
Oct. 11, 1991A federal judge strikes down the University of Wisconsin's speech code.
June 22, 1992The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a St. Paul, Minn., hate crime ordinance. The ruling also casts doubt on campus speech codes.
June 23, 1992The Wisconsin Supreme Court strikes down the state's hate crime penalty-enhancement law.
August 1992Two more state supreme courts rule on state hate crime penalty-enhancement laws. Ohio's Supreme Court strikes down that state's law on Aug. 26. The next day, the Oregon Supreme Court upholds a similar law.
Oct. 3, 1992A federal hate crime sentencing-enhancement bill is passed by the House, but dies in the Senate.

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Short Features

No one knows how many hate crimes are committed around the country each year even though Congress passed a law nearly three years ago to find out. And that means no one knows for certain whether hate crimes are on the rise even though advocacy groups and some experts say they are.

Under the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990, the FBI was directed to publish annual reports on the number of crimes committed each year that “manifest prejudice based on race, religion, affectional or sexual orientation or ethnicity.” But the FBI's first report, released Jan. 4, contains figures from only a sixth of all law enforcement agencies around the country.

For the year 1991, just 2,771 out of more than 16,000 law enforcement agencies around the country furnished hate crime data to the FBI. The agencies reported a total of 4,558 hate crime incidents in 1991. Participation in the program was limited because law enforcement agencies were not required to provide the data and many said they had no money to pay for a new data collection effort. FBI Director William Sessions acknowledged the statistics were “limited,” but said a more comprehensive report is planned for next year. Earlier, FBI officials had told Congress that comprehensive national statistics on hate crimes probably will not be available until 1994.

The FBI report listed racial bias as the motivation in 62 percent of the incidents covered. Blacks were the most frequent target -- 36 percent of the total number -- but anti-white offenses accounted for 19 percent of the total. Religious bias was the motivation for 19 percent of the incidents. Anti-Jewish offenses were the largest component of that category: 17 percent of the total. Ethnic and sexual orientation bias each accounted for about 10 percent of the total.

The offenders were known in just 57 percent of the incidents reported. Whites were listed as the offenders in nearly two-thirds of those cases, blacks as the offenders in about one-third. The most common offense listed was intimidation (34 percent), closely followed by vandalism or other property damage (27 percent). The FBI data listed 773 cases of aggravated assault and 12 murders.

With no statistical “baseline,” it is impossible to say definitely whether hate crimes are on the increase. But the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith has recorded an increase in anti-Semitic incidents since 1987, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found an increase in anti-gay incidents in five cities between 1988 and 1991 (see pp. 11, 12). In addition, an independent researcher agrees that the evidence indicates a general increase in hate crimes during the 1980s. “There may be a slight leveling off on campuses, but we don't see a leveling off anywhere else,” says Dr. Howard Erlich, research director of the National Institute Against Prejudice and Violence In Baltimore.

Research surveys give some evidence that bias-motivated incidents are widespread. Ehrlich says the institute's studies indicate that about one out of four minority students experience some prejudice- motivated harassment during the course of an academic year. Martin Hiraga, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's anti- violence project, says its surveys indicate that one out of six gay men has been the victim of anti-gay violence at some time in his life.

Experts cite several factors to explain the apparent increase in hate crimes. Ehrlich points to increased immigration in the 1980s as a major reason. More than 8 million people entered the country during the decade -- making it the second-largest period of in-migration in the nation's history.

Economic problems are also cited as a factor, especially for some of the anti-Asian incidents. “Quite often, minorities may be looked at as people holding jobs that other people might have lost,” Pat Sullivan of the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department in Colorado told the Senate subcommittee in August.

Affirmative action programs are often blamed for leading to resentment in the workplace and on college campuses. Civil rights groups say those tensions were exacerbated by the conservative political climate in the 1980s and the Reagan administration's attacks on affirmative action.

Despite the lack of solid statistics, law enforcement experts say the federal law and the FBI's work in implementing it have helped sensitize police around the country to the hate crime problem. “As police departments reach out to the victims, victims come forward,” says Jack McDevitt, director of the Center for Applied Social Research at Northeastern University in Boston. “We are already helping victims by training police to be receptive to them and to be helpful in terms of what they want.”

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At the University of Michigan, someone writes on a classroom blackboard, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste -- especially on a nigger.” At Stanford Law School, someone shouts at a student, “Faggot, I hope you die of AIDS.” At the University of Wisconsin, a fraternity holds a mock slave auction, complete with members in blackface performing skits offensive to blacks. At Brown University, a student is expelled for shouting anti-black, anti-Semitic and anti-gay slurs in a courtyard.

The news from the nation's colleges and universities over the past several years has been filled with disturbing incidents like these suggesting a surge in hatred and prejudice on campuses.# But the approach that many universities adopted to try to eliminate epithets, slurs and harassment embroiled them in an emotional debate with political conservatives and civil libertarians over charges they were restricting free speech on campus.

Between 200 and 300 colleges and universities responded to the resurgence of intolerance on campus with policies aimed at disciplining students for public displays of prejudice. But as the 1980s ended and the '90s began, political and legal support for the codes began to wane.

At the University of Michigan, for example, a controversy over a racist joke broadcast over the campus radio station in early 1987 led to the adoption of a policy against “discriminatory harassment.” As adopted in May 1988, the policy permitted the disciplining of anyone found guilty of “any behavior, verbal or physical,” that “stigmatize[d] or victimize[d]” someone “on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, creed, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, handicap or Vietnam-era veteran status.”

A year later, the policy was challenged in federal court by a psychology graduate student, who claimed that the policy prevented him from discussing theories about biologically based differences between the races and the sexes. On Sept. 22, 1989, a federal judge sustained the challenge. The judge said the policy was too broad because it applied to constitutionally protected speech and too vague because it “was simply impossible to discern any limitation on its scope.”##

Two years later, a federal judge similarly struck down a speech code adopted by another large state university -- the University of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin code, adopted by the university's Board of Regents by a 12-5 vote June 9, 1989, provided a similar prohibition against “discriminatory comments, epithets and abusive language” that “demean[ed]” someone on the basis of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or age. But it was somewhat narrower than the Michigan policy in that it applied only to comments directed at a specific individual.

Despite the narrower approach, however, a federal judge in October 1991 found the policy unconstitutional.* The judge said that the policy was too vague and that it went beyond the narrow category of “fighting words” that the U.S. Supreme Court had said, in a 1943 case, were outside the protection of the First Amendment (see p. 14).

As the legal challenges against campus speech codes were advancing, the political climate was also changing. The American Civil Liberties Union decided in June 1989 to oppose campus restrictions on speech. More significantly, political conservatives took up the fight against the campus speech codes, depicting them as an effort to impose a liberal orthodoxy in academia on controversial issues. “The campus hate-speech policies extend to viewpoints that have nothing to do with hatred whatever,” says Tom Jipping, a legal affairs expert with the conservative Free Congress Foundation.

With support for campus speech codes rapidly diminishing, the U.S. Supreme Court may have struck the final blow against them last June. In its decision striking down a St. Paul, Minn., hate crime ordinance (R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul) the court created a new free speech doctrine that appears to prohibit any governmental action that singles out a particular subject matter or particular viewpoint for punishment (see p. 14). “I'm not aware of any campus speech code that could survive the rule as laid down in [the case],” says Jipping.

Some proponents of speech codes were not ready to concede defeat, but the response to the ruling was inauspicious for their cause. In Michigan, the university withdrew its policy after the R.A.V. ruling. And in Wisconsin, the Board of Regents on Sept. 11 voted 10-6 to repeal its policy.

Some of those involved in dealing with prejudice on campus, however, saw the possible demise of hate speech codes as a way of redirecting efforts into more constructive channels. “The campus speech codes were typically a knee-jerk administrative response rather than a serious effort to deal with [the problem],” says Robert Purvis, director of the National Institute Against Prejudice and Violence in Baltimore. Purvis says universities should try instead to introduce issues involving prejudice in their curricula, recruit minority faculty members and use informal conflict-resolution programs rather than disciplinary procedures to deal with bias-related incidents. # See Charles R. Lawrence III, “If He Hollers Let Him Go: Regulating Racist Speech on Campus,” Duke Law Journal, June 1990, pp. 431-434; Rodney A. Smolla, Free Speech in an Open Society (1992), p. 153; Steve France, “Hate Goes to College,” ABA Journal, July 1990, p. 44. ## Doe v. University of Michigan, 721 F. Supp. 852, 867 (E.D. Mich. 1989). * UWM Post v. Board of Regents, 774 F. Supp. 1163 (E.D. Wis. 1991).

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No one knows for certain how many hate crimes are committed in the United States (see story, p. 6), but the Southern Poverty Law Center in Birmingham, Ala., recorded an increase in certain types of hate crimes from 1989 to 1991. The photo shows members of the group known as “skinheads” marching in a Ku Klux Klan parade in Pulaski, Tenn., in 1989. It was the first time the skinheads participated in the annual klan demonstration. Year: Murders: Cross-burnings: Vandalism: 1989 7 34 125 1990 16 50 77 1991 25 74 170 Source: Southern Poverty Law Center

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The Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, a Jewish civil rights group, has recorded an increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States since 1987. Throughout the 1980s, ADL data show, most anti-Semitic incidents involved vandalism, such as desecration of synagogues or Jewish cemeteries. In 1991, however, crimes against persons harassment, threats or assaults outnumbered property crimes for the first time. Year: Acts of Vandalism: Harassment, threats

and assaults 1980 377 112 1981 974 350 1982 829 593 1983 670 350 1984 715 363 1985 638 306 1986 594 312 1987 694 324 1988 823 458 1989 845 587 1990 927 758 1991 929 950 Source: Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith

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In 1991, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force tried to establish whether anti-gay violence was increasing by counting the number of incidents in five metropolitan areas with well-established programs of monitoring anti-gay violence: Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City and San Francisco. The study showed that the number of incidents totaling 1,822 in the five cities had increased 31 percent over the previous year and 161 percent since 1988. The task force said there were more than a dozen homicides in the U.S. in 1991 involving anti-gay violence.



since City/region 1988 1989 1990 1991 1988 Metro Boston 37 84 147 209 465% Metro Chicago 149 179 198 210 41% Metro Minneapolis/ St. Paul 24 48 112 338 1,308% Metro New York 289 308 507 592 105% Metro San Francisco 198 330 425 473 139% Total 697 949 1,389 1,822 161% Source: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Institute, Anti- Gay/Lesbian Violence: Victimization and Defamation in 1991, February 1992

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By 1991, all but four states had adopted some form of hate crime statute, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Twenty-nine states had adopted bias-motivated violence and intimidation laws, which generally called for stiffer sentences for specified crimes when they are committed “by reason of” the victim's race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation. In the summer of 1992, the Wisconsin and Ohio supreme courts ruled that such laws violate the First Amendment. Both states asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decisions, and just before Christmas the court agreed to hear the Wisconsin case. States with bias-motivated violence and intimidation laws: California New Hampshire Colorado New Jersey Connecticut New York D.C. North Dakota Florida Oklahoma Idaho Oregon Illinois Pennsylvania Iowa Rhode Island Maryland Tennessee Massachusetts Vermont Michigan Virginia Minnesota Washington Missouri West Virginia Montana Wisconsin Nevada States with other forms of hate crime laws: Alabama Louisiana Arizona Maine Arkansas Mississippi Delaware New Mexico Georgia North Carolina Hawaii South Carolina Indiana Texas Kansas Kentucky States with no hate crimes laws: Alaska Nebraska Utah Wyoming Source: Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, Hate Crimes Statutes: A 1991 Status Report, 1991

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Comstock, Gary D. , Violence Against Lesbians and Gay Men, Columbia University Press, 1991. The author, who now teaches religion and social ethics at Wesleyan University, describes the results of his empirical study of the victims and perpetrators of anti-gay violence. He also provides a historical perspective on the experience of homosexuals in the United States since World War II.

Smolla, Rodney A. , Free Speech in an Open Society, Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. Smolla, Arthur B. Hanson professor at the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary and a First Amendment expert, comprehensively surveys the range of new free speech issues. In a chapter written before the Supreme Court's ruling in the R.A.V. case, Smolla says the First Amendment permits regulation of hate speech “in only a small number of closely confined circumstances.”


Gellman, Susan , “Sticks and Stones Can Put You in Jail, but Can Words Increase Your Sentence? Constitutional and Policy Dilemmas of Ethnic Intimidation Laws,” UCLA Law Review, Vol. 39, No. 2, December 1991. Gellman, an assistant public defender in Ohio and counsel in the case that overturned the state's hate crime statute, argues that laws providing increased penalties for bias-motivated crimes are constitutionally flawed and bad public policy.

Lawrence, Charles R., III , “If He Hollers Let Him Go: Regulating Racist Speech on Campus,” Duke Law Journal, June 1990. Lawrence, a law professor at Stanford University and proponent of that school's campus speech code, urges restrictions on racial insults in face-to-face encounters or group situations. He also argues that the Constitution's equal-protection provisions require that the government regulate racist speech.

Strossen, Nadine , “Regulating Racist Speech on Campus: A Modest Proposal?”, Duke Law Journal, June 1990. Strossen, a professor at New York Law School and the president of the American Civil Liberties Union, strenuously argues that regulation of racist speech endangers First Amendment principles. She also argues that punishing racist speech would not counter, and could even aggravate, the underlying problem of racism.

Reports and Studies

League of B'nai B'rith, Anti-Defamation , Hate Crimes Statutes: A 1991 Status Report, 1991. In this report, the Anti-Defamation League, which developed the model hate crime penalty-enhancement law in 1980, describes the hate crime statutes in the states. ADL's most recent publication, Addressing Racial and Ethnic Tensions: Combating Hate Crimes in America's Cities (June 1992), reports the findings of a survey that it conducted with the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Studies, Center for Women Policy , Violence Against Women as Bias-Motivated Crime: Defining the Issues, 1991. The Washington-based women's rights organization argues in this advocacy tract that acts of violence based on gender should be treated like other bias-motivated crimes.

Task Force Policy Institute, National Gay and Lesbian , Anti-Gay/Lesbian Violence: Victimization and Defamation in 1991, February 1992. This report by a national gay-rights group found a 31 percent increase in anti-gay violence and victimization in five U.S. cities between 1990 and 1991. The report also contains a two-page bibliography on hate crimes, emphasizing but not limited to anti-gay violence.

Against Prejudice and Violence., National Institute , Prejudice and Violence: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Materials on Ethnoviolence (2d. ed.), 1989. The institute, affiliated with the University of Maryland at Baltimore, includes 175 books, reports, articles and audiovisual materials on ethnoviolence in this bibliography. The institute's own publications include Striking Back at Bigotry: Remedies Under Federal and State Law for Violence Motivated by Racial, Religious and Ethnic Prejudice (1988) and Campus Ethnoviolence: The Policy Options (1989).

Commission on Civil Rights, United States , Civil Rights Issues Facing Asian Americans in the 1990s, 1992. The commission's comprehensive survey of issues facing Asian Americans includes a well-annotated chapter discussing incidents of bigotry and violence. An earlier commission report, Recent Activities Against Citizens and Residents of Asian Descent (1986), dealt solely with ethnic-intimidation issues.

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The Next Step

(from EBSCO Publishing's Database)

Books and reading

Noah, Timothy , “Whites Like Me,” The Washington Monthly, September 1991, pp. 45-48. Reviews the book Chain Reaction: The Impact of Race, Rights and Taxes on American Politics by Thomas Byrne Edsall with Mary D. Edsall.

Stuttaford, Genevieve , “Nonfiction,” Publishers Weekly, Oct. 26, 1992, p. 45. Reviews the book Nazis, Communists, Klansmen and Others on the Fringe: Political Extremism in America, which includes four essays and short, detailed profiles of more than 35 extremist groups representing both conservative and liberal viewpoints.

Sheppard, R.Z. , “Talking About the Untalkable,” Time, March 30, 1992, pp. 69-70. Reviews the book Race: How Blacks and Whites Feel about the American Obsession by Studs Terkel. According to Sheppard, Terkel asserts that there is a growing fear among whites of the black underclass, and a feeling among blacks that they will never attain the status of whites in this country.

Wicker, Tom , “The Persistance of Inequality,” The New York Times Book Review, March 8, 1992, p. 1. Reviews the book Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal by Andrew Hacker.

Hate crime laws

Biskupic, Joan , “Justices to Review Hate Crimes Case,” The Washington Post, Dec. 15, 1992, p. A4. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Wisconsin vs. Mitchell, which will allow the court to clarify the status of hate crime laws. In this case, the defendant, Todd Mitchell, was convicted of aggravated battery and given a four-year sentence rather than the normal two-year sentence because the assault was said to be racially motivated. Under the Wisconsin law, which was recently struck down by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, stiffer penalties can be given if the victim is believed to be selected based on race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry.

Jill Gottesman , “Anti-Semitic Harassment Alleged in Suit,” Los Angeles Times, Sept. 24, 1992. A Jewish police detective in Huntington Park, Calif., filed a federal lawsuit against the city for repeated anti-Semitic harassment while on the job. Detective Alan Tavelman, who has been a member of the police force for nine years, says that he has been discriminated against and harassed because of his religious faith and that he has exhausted all internal methods of handling the conflict.

“Crime and Punishment,” The New Republic, Oct. 12, 1992, p. 7. At a conference of the Anti-Defamation League in Washington, D.C., this fall, presidential candidate Bill Clinton endorsed a hate crimes bill that was pending before Congress. The bill, introduced by Rep. Charles E. Schumer, D.-N.Y., would have required stiffer penalties for crimes motivated by hatred, bias or prejudice of another individual or group of individuals based on their race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. The bill was challenged as unconstitutional by groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union.

Hetta, Katia , “Enforcers of Hate-Crime Laws Wary After High Court Ruling,” The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 13, 1992, p. B1. After the Supreme Court ruled that a St. Paul, Minn., law banning the display of hate symbols was unconstitutional, some law enforcement officials are reluctant to enforce hate crime laws, even if the laws only allow stiffer punishment. In an effort to clear up some of the confusion, the House recently held a special hearing on penalty-enhancement legislation, and the FBI sent a letter to law enforcement agencies stating that the ruling had no bearing on the collection of hate crime data as required by the Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990.

Hook, Janet , “Hate-Crime Law Struck Down as Court Nears Term's End,” Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, June 27, 1992, pp. 1882-1884. On June 22, 1992, the Supreme Court struck down a St. Paul, Minn., hate crime law, ruling that it violated free speech rights by singling out certain kinds of offensive expressions for punishment. The St. Paul ordinance prohibited the use of any symbols that were likely to create anger or resentment by offending a person's race, creed, religion or gender. The court's ruling may not only undercut laws that ban specific hate crimes but may also impact hate crime laws that allow for penalty enhancement for hate crimes.

Schmidt, Peter , “Speech Codes Tread Line Between Protection, First Amendment,” Education Week, Dec. 2, 1992, p. 1. In a debate on how to protect students from abusive speech in the schools, members of the Fairfax County, Va., school board found themselves in the middle of a battle between conservative parents and the gay-rights group Queer Nation. The board was considering updating its verbal-harassment policy by adding sexual preference to the list of unacceptable areas of harassment. By including this area, conservative parents said the board was condoning homosexuality while other critics said the board was infringing on the First Amendment right to free speech. Some districts in the nation have already developed speech codes, including Howard County, Md., St. Paul, Minn., and Monroe County, Ind., while California recently passed a law that protects students from being punished for any speech in school that is protected by the First Amendment outside of school.

Racial tension and education

“Better Than a Speech Code,” The Washington Post, Sept. 18, 1992. The University of Wisconsin, which was one of the first universities to adopt a speech code to counteract hate speech on campus, has decided to repeal the code because it might violate students' constitutional rights. Administrators at the university have decided they should handle the offensive speech through education, counseling and enforcing criminal laws when unlawful conduct accompanies the offensive speech.

DePalma, Anthony , “Massachusetts Campus Is Torn by Racial Strife,” The New York Times, Oct. 18, 1992, p. 20. The University of Massachusetts in Amherst has become a hotbed of racial tension in the last year. Events came to a head when a black resident assistant in one of the college dormitories was assaulted and found his room covered with racially derogatory grafitti. In response to the incident and the perceived lack of response from the administration, students marched in protest, blocked campus roads and stormed the dormitory. University officials are now working with the U.S. Justice Department to effectively deal with the incidents. Researchers at the National Institute Against Prejudice and Violence say that racial incidents on college campuses around the nation are increasing as the colleges and universities feel the stress of economic recession.

Harney, James , “Michigan College Probes Racial Brawl,” USA Today, April 15, 1992. A racial brawl involving approximately 60 students caused all but 4 of the 55 black students to leave Olivet College in Michigan. Administrators at the school say racial tensions have been rare on the campus, but rumors about the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups being nearby have caused students to be fearful. Inset: Racial tensions at Southern Methodist University Law School are rising after a memo was circulated stating that blacks lower the standards at the university. College officials have not identified the source of the memo.

Laurie Goodstein , “Linked by Satellite, Campuses Tackle Issue of Rising Racial Tensions,” The Washington Post, Nov. 19, 1992, p. A20. On Nov. 18, over 20,000 college students from 215 different campuses across the country were linked via satellite for a forum on decreasing racial tensions on college campuses. Sponsored by the publishers of Black Issues in Higher Education, the forum featured a talk show format and hosted a panel of leading educators. Officials at the National Institute Against Prejudice and Violence estimate that 1 in 4 minority students experiences physical or psychological harassment on college campuses.

Masters, Brooke A. , “Campaign for Tolerance,” The Washington Post Education Review, April 5, 1992, pp. 11-13. Students and administrators at colleges and universities across the country are exploring many different techniques to promote racial understanding. Two years ago, Students United to Promote Racial Awareness (SUPRA) was formed at the University of Virginia Law School, and the organization has become a national model. Administrators at 12 Washington, D.C.-area colleges have been meeting monthly since November 1991 to find common solutions to racial tensions.

Masters, Brooke A. , “GWU Seeks Unity in Wake of Racist Remark,” The Washington Post, Nov. 3, 1992, p. B1. College administrators and civil rights groups are worried about race relations on college campuses because the number of racially motivated incidents there is on the rise. Inset: Figures from the American Council on Education reveal that master's and doctoral degrees awarded to black students are decreasing.

Stanley, Alessandra , “City College Professor Assailed for Remarks on Jews,” The New York Times, Aug. 7, 1991, p. B1. In a lecture addressing the need for more emphasis on Afro-American cultural education, City College Professor Leonard Jeffries claimed that Jews in the Hollywood movie industry have conspired against black people. The lecture, which was presented at the Empire State Black Arts and Cultural Festival in Albany, drew much public controversy because the festival was co-sponsored by Gov. Mario Cuomo's advisory committee on black affairs and because Dr. Jeffries is a consultant to the state Department of Education.

Stone, Andrea , “Steps for Change Outlined,” USA Today, Nov. 9, 1992, p. 6A. Officials at the University of Massachusetts teamed with mediators from the U.S. Justice Department to deal with the racial tensions on their campus. Some of the goals outlined include increasing minority enrollment to 20 percent, creating 40 new minority scholarships for students in 1993, holding diversity training for school security personnel and recruiting more minority faculty. The Justice Department targeted the University of Massachusetts and other schools such as Smith College in Northhampton, Mass., because of recent racial incidents.

John Larrabee , “Racism Taints Universities' Hallowed Halls,” USA Today, Nov. 9, 1992, p. 6A. As racial tension and violence in America increase, appeals to intolerance in the political arena also seem to be on the rise. But some leading companies and organizations are investing time and money into healing racial divisions. Philip Morris Co., the Ford Foundation and the Lilly Endowment have invested over $9 million to promote racial tolerance on college campuses. The Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., is publishing a new magazine called “Teaching Tolerance,” and the Anti-Defamation League is sponsoring a tolerance campaign called “A World of Difference,” designed to link schools, the media and businesses together to promote racial harmony.

“The New Politics of Race,” Newsweek, May 6, 1991, pp. 22-26. With the civil rights bill being debated in Congress and people of all races vying for the same jobs in tightening economic times, the issue of race is once again a heated topic. As elections approach, politicians on all sides often use race to divide rather than unite the nation. Some say these tactics are beginning to turn voters off and that voters will begin to look for candidates who speak of what they need like jobs instead of racial tension. Inset: “'Going for the Gut': How Ads Play on Race.”

Around the Nation

“A Crisis of Shattered Dreams,” Newsweek, May 6, 1991, pp. 28-31. After decades of progress in the realm of race relations, blacks and whites continue to harbor resentment toward each other. The article asserts that many whites feel quotas are unfair because they take job opportunities away from them. Blacks, on the other hand, are frustrated because so many of them still cannot make ends meet. The economic recession seems to be making these resentments stronger, but both groups see education as the solution to their problems.

Hughes, Robert , “The Fraying of America,” Time, Feb. 3, 1992, pp. 44- 49. Hughes asserts that America is divided by racial tensions because the country does not recognize that the similarities between the different races are as profound and as important as the differences. He points out that America has always been multicultural and says Americans need to move away from heroizing the victim and take responsibility for the problems. The future of the country, he says, depends upon cultivating the ability to “think and act with informed grace across ethnic, cultural and linguistic lines.”

Hirsch, James S. , “Columbia, Md., at 25, Sees Integration Goal Sliding From Its Grasp,” The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 27, 1992, p. A1. When Columbia, Md., was founded 25 years ago, the goal was to create a color-blind community where racial harmony would be the norm not the exception. Today Columbia residents are concerned because while the racial balance has been maintained in the community, the intermingling between different races is decreasing.

Schmidt, Peter , “New Survey Discerns Deep Divisions Among U.S. Youths on Race Relations,” Education Week, March 25, 1992, p. 5. People for the American Way, a liberal lobbying group, released survey results that reveal a divided nation. Using telephone interviews of youths between the ages of 15 and 24, as well as interviews and studies of youth focus groups, the organization found that youths do cultivate friendships and share values between races, but they remain wary of other races and often feel that their own race is the brunt of discrimination. Fifty-six percent of white youths surveyed and four out of 10 black youths said they would not feel safe in each other's neighborhoods.

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[1] Expanded versions of the presentations were later published in a law review. See Charles R. Lawrence III, “If He Hollers Let Him Go: Regulating Racist Speech on Campus,” Duke Law Journal, June 1990, pp. 431-483; and Nadine Strossen, “Regulating Racist Speech on Campus: A Modest Proposal?” Duke Law Journal, June 1990, pp. 484-573.

[2] Quoted in The Washington Post, June 23, 1992, p. A6.

[3] Anti-Defamation League, Frontline, September 1992, p. 2.

[4] Susan Gellman, “Sticks and Stones Can Put You in Jail, but Can Words Increase Your Sentence? Constitutional and Policy Dilemmas of Ethnic Intimidation Laws,” UCLA Law Review, December 1991, p. 360.

[5] Ibid., pp. 355-362.

[6] Ibid., pp. 381-396.

[7] The New Republic, Oct. 12, 1992, p. 7.

[8] Unless otherwise noted, information for this section came from Rhoda Lois Blumberg, Civil Rights: The 1960s Freedom Struggle (1991 edition).

[9] Testimony of G. Norman Christensen, U.S. Senate, Committee on the Judiciary, Hate Crime Statistics, Aug. 5, 1992 (not yet printed).

[10] U.S. Senate, Committee on the Judiciary, Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1988, June 21, 1988, pp. 67-71.

[11] See United States Commission on Civil Rights, Civil Rights Issues Facing Asian Americans in the 1990s, 1992, pp. 5-6, 22-45; and “Asian Americans,” The CQ Researcher, Dec. 13, 1992, pp. 945-968.

[12] See Nathan C. Belth, A Promise to Keep: A Narrative of the American Encounter With Anti-Semitism (1979), pp. 61-68.

[13] Ibid., pp. 42-43.

[14] Gary D. Comstock, Violence Against Lesbians and Gay Men (1991), pp. 18-19. Also see U.S. House of Representatives, Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Anti-Gay Violence, Oct. 9, 1986.

[15] National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Anti-Gay Violence: Causes, Consequences, Responses (1986), pp. 3-4.

[16] National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, Anti- Gay/Lesbian Violence: Victimization and Defamation in 1991, February 1992, pp. 1, 15-16.

[17] Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, Hate Crimes Statutes: A 1991 Status Report, 1991, pp. 2-5.

[18] See “The Growing Danger of Hate Groups,” Editorial Research Reports, May 12, 1989, pp. 261-276; and Anti-Defamation League, The Hate Movement Today: A Chronicle of Violence and Disarray, 1987.

[19] Hate Crimes Statutes: A 1991 Status Report, op. cit., p. 8.

[20] See The New York Times, Nov. 30, 1990, p. A18; and Gellman, op. cit., pp. 345-350.

[21] Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1988, op. cit., p. 114.

[22] Quoted in The New York Times, April 24, 1990, p. B6. See also 1990 Congressional Quarterly Almanac, pp. 506-507.

[23] The New York Times, Dec. 1, 1991, p. A32.

[24] Ibid.

[25] See “Across the U.S., Immigrants Find the Land of Resentment,” The New York Times, Dec. 11, 1992, p. A1, and “Illegal Immigration,” The CQ Researcher, April 24, 1992, pp. 361-384.

[26] Los Angeles Times, June 23, 1992, p. A18.

[27] The New York Times, Dec. 10, 1992, p. A24.

[28] The New York Times, Nov. 16, 1992, p. A13.

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Document APA Citation
Jost, K. (1993, January 8). Hate crimes. CQ Researcher, 3, 1-24. Retrieved from http://library.cqpress.com/
Document ID: cqresrre1993010800
Document URL: http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre1993010800
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Racism and Hate
May 12, 2017  Anti-Semitism
Mar. 17, 2017  ‘Alt-Right’ Movement
Jan. 08, 2016  Racial Conflict
Sep. 18, 2015  Far-Right Extremism
Nov. 22, 2013  Racial Profiling
May 08, 2009  Hate Groups
Jun. 01, 2007  Shock Jocks Updated
Jan. 07, 1994  Racial Tensions in Schools
Jan. 08, 1993  Hate Crimes
May 12, 1989  The Growing Danger of Hate Groups
Nov. 05, 1969  American History: Reappraisal and Revision
Mar. 31, 1965  Extremist Movements in Race and Politics
May 13, 1964  Racism in America
Dec. 03, 1958  Spread of Terrorism and Hatemongering
Jul. 10, 1946  Ku Klux Klan
Jan. 09, 1945  Race Equality
Dec. 19, 1933  Lynching and Kidnapping
Domestic Issues
Freedom of Speech and Press
Hate Groups
Race and Hate Crimes

"Anyone who says hate crimes don't exist is an idiot. Open your eyes. Hate is everywhere."
Jet, HCC

"I think spraying Nazi swaistka on schools or churches is hate crime like NAZIS used to do during world war2."

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