It seems like this would be a pretty clear-cut example of what most people would call a “hate crime.”
You’ve got a woman Tamara Crowchief who happens to be of an indigenous group of people in Canada – a Native American – hitting a white woman Lydia White and yelling, “I hate white people!” It would obviously be ruled a hate crime and prosecuted as such, right?
Not so fast. Apparently, just because a Native American clocked a white person in the face while simultaneously exclaiming hatred of white people doesn’t mean it’s a hate crime. The Calgary Herald reported:
Provincial court Judge Harry Van Harten, in a written decision, said Tamara Crowchief’s motivation for striking Lydia White was not related to racial bias.
Crown prosecutor Karuna Ramakrishnan, who had sought a sentence of 12 to 15 months, argued Crowchief’s unprovoked attack last Nov. 1, amounted to a hate crime.
But Van Harten agreed with defense counsel Adriano Iovinelli that there was insufficient evidence to establish Crowchief attacked White because of the colour of her skin.
Van Harten said unlike offenders in several cases cited by Ramakrishnan, there was no suggestion Crowchief was associated with any group that promoted hatred toward a specific race.
“The offender said, ‘I hate white people’ and threw a punch,” Van Harten said in his ruling.
“There is no evidence either way about what the offender meant or whether . . . she holds or promotes an ideology which would explain why this assault was aimed at this victim,” he said.
“I am not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that this offence was, even in part, motivated by racial bias.”
What in the world had to have happened in order for this situation to have been ruled a hate crime?
Here’s actually what happened. The victim Lydia White – a white woman – was standing outside a bar with a friend. A friend of the suspect Tamara Crowchief approached White and her friend and asked for a cigarette. She was given a cigarette.
White and her friend started chatting with Crowchief’s friend when – in a baffling fit of rage – Crowchief yelled, “I hate white people!” and struck White in the face, knocking one of her teeth out.
White and her friend followed the two women and called the police, who arrived shortly thereafter to arrest Crowchief.
This is why I don’t like the concept of “hate crime.” I honestly don’t think there should be harsher consequences just because a person committed a crime based on racial bias. A crime is a crime.
And we all know what would have happened if the situation were reversed. What if Lydia White had hit Tamara Crowchief in the face and yelled, “I hate indigenous people!” Judge Van Harten would have declared that an obvious hate crime and made sure White suffered to the fullest extent of the law.
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