Thursday, June 13, 2019

Yes, it was a hate crime

Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, the father of the two murdered women:

We're not giving in; this is our country; we claim it.

The case of the angry white man who in 2015 killed three Muslim college students in Chapel Hill once again turned into a discussion of whether the murders were a "hate crime."

Craig Hicks pleaded guilty Wednesday to shooting three young Muslims in their Chapel Hill home, ending the 2015 case the district attorney called an act of “cold-blooded malice” driven by a gun fanatic’s hatred of his neighbors’ religion.

Hicks will serve a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole for killing his neighbors: Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Abu-Salha, 19.

Family members and lawyers connected to the case said Wednesday’s hearing corrects a 4-year-old narrative that mistakenly cast the murders as a parking dispute rather than a hate crime.

The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC

There are plenty of procedural and legal reasons, as well as possible bias reasons, why authorities don't want to call this or other offenses based in hate by the label "hate crime." The legal categories don't quite fit; Hicks would get the same sentence anyway. But a newly released tape from Deah Barakat's phone in which polite students tried to mollify their angry neighbor just before he shot them more than made the case. Here's how the prosecutor responded:
The "hate crime" label matters because it is society's way of acknowledging that racism, Islamophobia, homophobia and misogyny violate community values -- and no one should forget that. Calling a crime a "hate crime" sets a standard for law enforcement to be conscious that their job is to uphold and enforce inclusive justice for all.

It may seem just words, but naming hate crimes what they are is a significant way we announce that all of us us are in this together.

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