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  • Is this a hate "incident"?

    'Hate incident' in city

    By Bonnie Washuk , Staff Writer
    Thursday, April 19, 2007
    LEWISTON - One student has been suspended and more disciplinary action could follow a possible hate crime at Lewiston Middle School, Superintendent Leon Levesque said Wednesday.

    On April 11, a white student placed a ham steak in a bag on a lunch table where Somali students were eating. Muslims consider pork unclean and offensive.

    The act reminded students of a man who threw a pig's head into a Lewiston mosque last summer.

    The school incident is being treated seriously as "a hate incident," Levesque said. Lewiston police are investigating, and the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence is working with the school to create a response plan.

    "We've got some work to do to turn this around and bring the school community back together again," Levesque said.

    Placing ham where Muslim students were eating was "an awful thing," said Stephen Wessler, executive director of the Center for Prevention of Hate Violence. "It's extraordinarily hurtful and degrading" to Muslims, whose religion prohibits them from being around ham. It's important to respond swiftly, Wessler said.

    "Incidents like this that involve degrading language or conduct are often said by the perpetrator as a joke. I know that conduct is never static," he said. "It's part of a process of escalation."

    If people think insulting Muslims with ham is OK, "More degrading acts will follow, until at some point we'll end up having violence," Wessler said.

    The incident does not reflect the moral values of the school staff and students, Levesque said. "We need to take a look at this and review how a careless act is degrading and causes hurt to other people. All our students should feel welcome and safe in our schools."

    He said a letter would be sent home to parents explaining what happened and outlining the school's response. Wessler will meet with students to address the school's climate, and staff will talk about how to respond to and prevent future hate incidents

    'I didn't feel safe'

    A 14-year-old Somali boy, whose mother asked that his name not be published, said he was eating lunch with four other Somali students on April 11. He noticed many others in the cafeteria "standing up, looking at us."

    One boy came near, began laughing and threw a bag on the table while other students laughed and said, 'Good job.'"

    "We didn't know what was in this bag," the boy said. "One of my friends reached inside it. It was a big ham steak. There were five of us at the table, all Somali. It was intended for us."

    The boy said he looked up at students he thought were his friends. "I felt angered, offended."

    He suddenly felt like he was alone. "At the school the next day, I didn't feel safe. I felt like everybody was against me. Before I felt like I fit in, and everything was normal."

    He began to think white students didn't like him, and the act was their way of letting him know.

    On Thursday, several students came up to him and said, "Those guys who did it were jerks. I apologize for them, and I hope you feel better."

    The boy said they did make him feel better. "But for the rest of my life when I remember middle school, this will pop up right away."

    He spoke out because he wants the community to know what happened, "that there is something like this going on in our schools."

    Wessler and Levesque said the act happened the day before April vacation began, which prevented educators from gathering information.

    "This is not done," Wessler said.

  • #2
    While I agree what that kid did was stupid, the article called it a hate crime. What exactly was the crime. As far as I could tell, he didn't hit him with the ham, only put it on the table next to him.

    Comment


    • #3
      Yes! It can be considered a hate crime.

      Just as painting swastikas on the garages or buildings of Jewish people; burning crosses in the yards of African-Americans; painting graffiti in another gang's neighborhood; burning churches, etc. They are all listed as hate crimes and are investigated as such!

      hate crime
      In law, a crime directed at a person or persons on the basis of characteristics such as race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. The concept emerged in the U.S. in the late 1970s, and since then laws have been passed in many U.S. states mandating additional penalties for violent crimes motivated by bias or bigotry against particular groups. Several other Western countries, including Australia, Britain, and Canada, have adopted laws designed to curb violent crime against racial and religious minorities. For example, German law forbids public incitement and instigation of racial hatred, including the distribution of Nazi propaganda.

      http://www.answers.com/topic/hate-crime
      Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence!

      [George Washington (1732 - 1799)]

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by lunchbox
        While I agree what that kid did was stupid, the article called it a hate crime. What exactly was the crime. As far as I could tell, he didn't hit him with the ham, only put it on the table next to him.
        ???? It could fall under so many offense headings...assault, harassment, threats/intimidation, and DisCon. It (the offense) could run the gamut and of course it varies from state to state. A hate crime?? Oh yes, certainly it was an act predicated upon someone by intentionaly and knowingly directing something toward them because of religion, race and so many other categories. Not to trivialize the issue, but as cops how easy is it to apply the "disorderly conduct" label to an act and make it stick. I would argue that although more serious, labeling something a hate crime is just as easy.
        You cant arrest me...I know my Commandments!!

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm still confused here. We do know that the boy's actions were definately out of taste, but what 'crime' was committed?
          "Our citizenship in the United States is our national character...Our great title is AMERICANS." - Thomas Paine

          "The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone." - Harriet Beecher Stowe

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          • #6
            Insensitive? Yes. Stupid? Yes. A hate crime? Gimme a break!
            First I have trouble with the concept of "hate crime." You don't rob, beat, rape or kill another person because you have a warm loving relationship. All crime is hate in one way or another.
            Second, when we devalue terms like this they cease to have any meaning. Some quarters have screamed "racist" so many times and so often that it ceases to have meaning. So now when actual racists do appear (as they do occasionally) what can you call them? The term has been devalued to meaninglessness.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by The Rabbi
              Insensitive? Yes. Stupid? Yes. A hate crime? Gimme a break!
              First I have trouble with the concept of "hate crime." You don't rob, beat, rape or kill another person because you have a warm loving relationship. All crime is hate in one way or another.
              Second, when we devalue terms like this they cease to have any meaning. Some quarters have screamed "racist" so many times and so often that it ceases to have meaning. So now when actual racists do appear (as they do occasionally) what can you call them? The term has been devalued to meaninglessness.
              I am no legal scholar in Ohio but I did a quick read of the Statute and it appears to be an enhanced add on, to other predicate offenses. Yes, the term has been over used but in your words you dont rob, beat, rape or kill from a loving relationship. We also know that most crimes are crimes of opportunity. To deliberately target someone because of their race, or religion, or even sexual orientation takes it above the level of a "regular" crime. Other offenses such as gang crimes, stalking type offenses, and even offenses against the police have add-on enhancements because of the nature of the crime and the victim targeted....how is this different???

              ORC 2927.12

              2927.12 Ethnic intimidation.
              (A) No person shall violate section 2903.21, 2903.22, 2909.06, or 2909.07, or division (A)(3), (4), or (5) of section 2917.21 of the Revised Code by reason of the race, color, religion, or national origin of another person or group of persons.

              (B) Whoever violates this section is guilty of ethnic intimidation. Ethnic intimidation is an offense of the next higher degree than the offense the commission of which is a necessary element of ethnic intimidation.
              You cant arrest me...I know my Commandments!!

              Comment


              • #8
                It probably isn't, except in degree.
                Which brings up the whole idea of "add-ons" or enhancements. It sends the message that someone's life is more valuable than someone else's, someone's property is more valuable than someone else's. I have big issues with that line of thinking.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by LCPLPunk
                  I'm still confused here. We do know that the boy's actions were definately out of taste, but what 'crime' was committed?
                  To target someone based on race, creed or color, and single them out for harassment is a hate crime.
                  Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.

                  sigpic

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by The Rabbi
                    It probably isn't, except in degree.
                    Which brings up the whole idea of "add-ons" or enhancements. It sends the message that someone's life is more valuable than someone else's, someone's property is more valuable than someone else's. I have big issues with that line of thinking.
                    We have a system of law borne of a government that decreed "all men are created equal" the language itself never made it to the Constitution. Over the years the language in our Constitution had to be amended and enhanced to legitimately include all men, and eventually all women. Maybe if we got it right the first time we wouldnt have to keep adding.
                    You cant arrest me...I know my Commandments!!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I am leaving my opinions to myself on this. I just found it an interesting situation. And a quick correction, this didn't happen in Ohio it happened in Maine. The city I work for has the 2nd highest amount of Somalian immigrants in the nation. The first is Minneapolis.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I don't really consider this an "opinion" issue.

                        Do the actions rise to meet the criteria established by the state's laws?

                        If your job is to enforce the law, then you enforce all the laws. Your opinion of the victim, or the suspect should not come into play. They should both be entitled to equal consideration.
                        Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.

                        sigpic

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                        • #13
                          Oh, for cryin' out loud! He didn't break any laws. How is it a crime to set a sandwich on the table in a cafeteria? It was just a harmless junior high prank.
                          Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

                          I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ateamer
                            Oh, for cryin' out loud! He didn't break any laws. How is it a crime to set a sandwich on the table in a cafeteria? It was just a harmless junior high prank.

                            I'm gonna go on a limb here, but how many suspects in all of the high school shootings were the victims of "harmless jr hi pranks" that caused somebody to hold a grudge, harbor deepseated resentment and take it out on the wrong (innocents) persons. I would argue too many to want to casually dismiss.
                            You cant arrest me...I know my Commandments!!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I think the ability to distinguish between a high school shooting and a ham sandwich is critical.

                              Comment

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