CSI Panel Discusses Policy Dealing With Hate Crimes
By: Haziq Naeem
Hate crimes in certain American cities have spiked twenty percent last year. With most of that rise attributed to the divisive and inflammatory rhetoric used in the recent election cycle, hate crimes across college campuses have also increased.
The definition of a hate crime is one that target someone’s identity.
In New York, an individual’s identity falls under protected classes for purposes of the law, and according to Section 485.05 of New York State Penal Law the protected classes are “race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation.”
On October 17, an event designed to raise awareness about what constitutes a hate crime and why they occur was held from 2:30pm to 4:00pm in the Williamson Theater.
The panelists were Professor Jay Arena, Professor Mayra Humphreys, a representative from the NYPD hate crimes unit and Mark Palladino from Richmond County District Attorney’s Office.
According to the captain from the NYPD hate crimes unit, in order for someone to be prosecuted for a hate crime, there are three important components that they look for: intent, imminence and plausibility.
If someone is yelling hateful slurs or targeting an aspect of your identity, it is not considered a hate crime. It must be a threat, and in order to be considered a threat it must contain all three previously listed components.
Essentially, if hate speech is followed by a plausible, imminent and true threat, it is a criminal offense.
Mark Palladino, Chief Prosecutor of hate crimes on Staten Island, explained his policy dealing with hate crime offenses.
His policy states that the status of hate crimes will always be elevated. For example, an assault is considered a misdemeanor, however, if that same assault is motivated due to the victim’s identity, hence constituting a hate crime, then that misdemeanor is upgraded to a felony.
Mr. Palladino does not subject hate crimes to plea bargains.
Plea bargains are an agreement between the defendant and prosecutor where the defendant is given the opportunity to confess and in return is offered a lessened sentence or another concession.
Meaning, the accused must either confess and face the full penalty or face prosecution.
An important distinction between a hate crime and one that is not considered as such is that the crime must be initiated due to the victim’s identity. If the crime was initiated due to some other reason, but slurs targeting another’s identity were used during the act of the crime, it is not considered a hate crime.
Professor Mayra Humphreys and Jay Arena talked about the socioeconomic reasons for why hate crimes occur.
“Implicit biases are stereotypical thoughts and feelings, these are involuntary and we consciously reject them when we notice them in punctuated ways,” Professor Mayra Humphreys said.
Millions of people hold implicit biases about people different than themselves, and these are harder to root out since they do not reside in the conscious parts of our mind.
An example of implicit bias is getting uneasy or nervous when seeing a Muslim at an airport or African American on the street.
To challenge these biases created by our mind, three methods were suggested.
The first was that we question the stereotypes that arise and replace them instead with a positive view of the group.
The second is to practice perspective by taking and learning from what other people tell you about themselves rather than continuing to believe the pre-conceived stereotypical notions you have.
Lastly, increasing opportunity for contact with individuals from different groups challenges the brains assumptions of those groups.
“To understand hate crimes on campus we must look at broader society,” Professor Jay Arena said.
According to FBI statistics, over half of hate crimes committed are racially motivated.
Racism depends on a structure to survive, and according to Professor Jay Arena, “we still have deep institutionalized racism in our society.”
The panel raised the notion that in order to reduce the number of hate crimes committed, we must tackle the institutional problems that give rise to hate.