Hate Crimes: False Accusations against a Race

I recently came across an article from a Cleveland, Ohio news station that reported on how a former Navy SEAL lied about being shot during an altercation with three black men, which never happened. This got me to thinking about a number of things. First, in a time when racial tensions are already high because of the number of police-involved murders across the country of unarmed black men, it is tragic that someone white would rely on stereotypes of criminality to falsely accuse black men of an attack against him. And that got me to thinking – why wouldn’t that be considered a “hate crime”?

According to Wikipedia:

In both crime and law, hate crime (also known as bias-motivated crime) is a usually violent, prejudice motivated crime that occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group… Incidents may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, or offensive graffiti or letters (hate mail).

Wikipedia also notes that “Anti-black bias is the most frequently reported hate crime motivation in the United States. Of the 8,208 hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2010, 48% were race related – with 70% of those having an anti-black bias.”

This, secondly made me think to a number of other incidents when a white “victim” falsely accused African-Americans or minorities of criminal acts against them:

  1. In 1989, Charles Stuart of Boston claimed that a black gunman carjacked and robbed him and his pregnant wife, shooting both, but killing his wife.
  2. In 1994, Susan Smith of Michigan claimed that a black man stole her car and kidnapped her children, drowning them in a lake.
  3. In 2003, Katelyn Faber falsely accused Kobe Bryant of raping her in a Colorado hotel.
  4. In 2005, Jennifer Wilbanks claimed that a Hispanic man kidnapped and sexually assaulted her, months before her wedding.
  5. In 2007, Amanda Knox falsely accused a black (well, Congolese-born) man of murdering her roommate in Italy.
  6. In 2008, Ashley Todd falsely claimed that she was robbed and physically assaulted by a black male supporter of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.
  7. In 2010, Bethany Storro falsely claimed that a black woman threw acid in her face.
  8. In 2013, Ashley Depew falsely claimed that three young black men punched her as part of the “knockout game.”

While, in his incident, the Navy SEAL was the “victim” of violence, if he falsely accused black men of attacking him when that did not happen, his lies further inflict injury upon a race of people. The lies further perpetuate the fears and stereotypes about black people and criminality, stereotypes that led to the shooting of Michael Brown, of John Crawford, of Trayvon Martin. These stereotypes are the basis of a bias-motivated crime (a lie/false statement to police) that would be readily believed by the public and law enforcement, just as the above mentioned incidents did. As such, his crime, even if a misdemeanor, should be punished as a hate crime to deter him and others from falsely accusing an already highly scrutinized race of people of criminal acts.