Tuesday, August 30, 2005

"It wasn't a hate crime . . ."

That's what they usually say. The Columbia Missourian tells the story:

The police report states that Haitham Alramahi, 22, was walking home about 2 a.m. when he was struck by a car at Sixth and Cherry streets. He was in the crosswalk, but the car did not stop at the stop sign. He said four or five men got out of the car.

“I thought they were going to help me,” said Alramahi in an interview. Instead, they shouted racial epithets at him, telling him to go back to Iraq, he said.

When Alramahi, born in Jordan to a Palestinian father and a Greek mother, protested, the assailants began to punch and kick him. “It came from everywhere,” Alramahi said. “I didn’t even have time to get away.”

“It does not fit the statute,” [Investigative Division Commander of the Columbia PD] Martin said. He added simply using racist language during an assault does not automatically mean the crime was originally perpetrated because of race.

If this sort of thing is not a hate crime, I certainly don't know what is, assuming Alramahi is telling the truth. Perhaps the guys in the car did not originally hit him because he was perceived as a Middle Eastern foreigner. But once they got out and started beating him while calling him names, they were announcing a hate motivation while committing assault. What more does it take to make a "hate crime?"

If the authorities do not condemn racial, religious and gender hate acts, they condone them; apparently that is what is going on in Columbia.

In the spirit of another hate victim who asked "can't we all get along," Alramahi seems to just want to make peace: “I can’t judge all of Columbia because of this one incident,” he said. “People are nice here, very nice.”

See also my account of David Neiwert's valuable Death on the Fourth of July and follow these eruptions of bigotry at his blog.

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