You may remember the 2006 convictions of Pete Billiot and Dwayne Adam Racine for the attack of a black offshore worker, but it’s likely you don’t. The story received some national media coverage, but as is the case with most hate crimes, it wasn’t enough. We can all grimace when someone murders another person regardless of the motivation, but when the motivation is bias or prejudice because of the persons race, creed, color, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, it’s particularly painful, particularly to members of that “suspect class.” Lots of thoughts race through the minds of those that could have been attacked and/or murder because of the same violent biases.
There have been many cases wherein those that commit such crimes get nothing more than a slap on the wrist. In fact, a recent case of murder resulted in a full acquittal of the charge against the admitted murderer simply because he was motivated to kill a queer man after the man “hit on him.”
In the present case of Billiot and Racine; however, there may be some form of justice yet – albeit not for the proper crime. It was reported yesterday that Billiot and Racine, who received very little jail time for their crime which outraged civil rights leaders, were arrested again. This time for possession of marijuana with intention of distribution.
The two men were passengers in a car being driven by 17-year old, Samantha Scott. Officers stopped the vehicle due to an expired inspection sticker, and upon obtaining consent, searched the vehicle and found a “crack pipe” and 52 grams of marijuana. Samantha then reported to the officers that they were going to try to sell the drugs. This is where “insert thud noise” would ordinarily be appropriate; however, no one ever said those that keep company with racists, or racists themselves were very “smart.”
Civil rights leaders in Louisiana had been planning a protest against the lenient sentencing of Racine and Billiot for today.
In another breaking case, a suburban New York teenager with a tendency to wear clothing marked with symbols such as swastikas and Ku Klux Klan logos, recently attacked another non-white. His last attack was in April; however, in the more recent attack, apparently motivated by bias/prejudice, a Hispanic man was shot with a BB gun and suffered minor injuries. The teen was out on bail awaiting trial for the precious hate crime charge.
Race was the motivating factor in over half (51%) of all hate crimes committed in 2007, followed by religion (18%), then sexual orientation/gender identity (17%). Yet, we are still waiting for Obama to sign Federal Hate Crimes Legislation… when will we learn?