II. Violence Based on Racism and Xenophobia
Monitors in the United States generally categorize incidents of racist and xenophobic violence by victim’s race, ethnicity, or national origin, although there is often considerable overlap of these categories. Attacks motivated by racism and xenophobia are also often fueled by religious antipathy, gender bias, or other forms of prejudice. The highest levels of violent hate crime continue to be directed toward members of the African-American community and others of African origin. In the latest report, covering 2006, the FBI found that over a third of the total victims of hate crime violence were targeted because of antiblack bias. A high incidence of racist attacks on black Americans is also reported by municipal and county hate crimes monitors. In other racist and xenophobic attacks, hate crimes targeting people of Hispanic or Latino origin rose nationwide by one third since 2003. Racist violence also targeted people of Asian origin. These included attacks on persons of South Asian origin, who were sometimes targeted in the belief they were Muslims and from the Middle East.
- In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in August 2007, three men were charged with a hate crime and attempted murder for shouting racial epithets and allegedly firing a shotgun at two black Department of Public Works employees.
- On June 11, 2008, in Marshfield, Massachusetts, an estimated dozen assailants shouted racial epithets at an African-American man, chased him, and then “kicked, stabbed and hit until he was nearly unconscious,” according to police. Four suspects were detained and faced hate crime and attempted murder charges.
- On January 20, 2008, in Omaha, Nebraska, Brittany Williams, a 21-year-old African American college student, was shot to death at a local drive-in. Prosecutors noted that the murderer’s “own words—and the circumstances of the shooting—point to the [murder] as being race-based.”
- In June 2008, in Eugene, Oregon, three young white men attacked a 59-year-old African-American man, beating him with a baseball bat. According to police reports, the victim suffered “facial, jaw and skull injuries” requiring extensive surgeries. The incident was investigated as a hate crime.
- In Seattle, Washington, in March 2008, two white men yelling racial slurs attacked a 24-year-old black man at a bus stop. Police announced two arrests on charges of second-degree assault, first-degree robbery, and malicious harassment (the latter is based on Washington’s hate crime law).
- In Brentwood, California, in August 2007, attackers spray-painted and set alight the home of a black family. A vehicle stolen from the family at the same time was found partially “stripped and burned.”
- In Aurora, Colorado, in December 2007, police charged a 51-year-old man with harassment of another person because “of that person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry or national origin.” The man was allegedly responsible for hanging nooses and inserting razor blades in a black employee’s work belt at Arapahoe County Weatherization Department.
- On July 19, 2008, a cross was set up and burned in the yard of an interracial couple with four children in Dudley, North Carolina. Police subsequently arrested a neighbor of the victimized family, Dixon Steward, who was charged with ethnic intimidation and a misdemeanor.
- In Nashville, Tennessee, in January 2008, an unknown person set fire to a pile of newspapers on a man’s doorstep and placed a noose and cross atop the blaze.
- In Arlington, Texas on December 19, 2007, a woman attacked a black neighbor, Silk Littlejohn, striking her on the head with a piece of wood while hurling racial epithets. Racist graffiti—expressing dissatisfaction with Littlejohn’s presence in the neighborhood—was sprayed on the victim’s house after the incident. Police charged the 66-year-old woman with a hate crime assault.
- In Virginia Beach, in August 2007, vandals painted racist epithets on a car that was then set on fire at the home of “a white woman who has biracial children.”
- On October 7, 2007, in Las Vegas, Nevada, a man reportedly ran over with a car and killed Mexican national Manuel Ramírez Rodríguez. Police detained the suspect on charges of murder and said the killing was a hate crime, motivated by the victim’s nationality.
- On July 12, 2008, in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, Mexican immigrant Luis Ramírez was brutally murdered by a group of teenagers, who approached Ramírez and his American girlfriend in a park. The youths attacked Ramírez with punches and kicks, knocking him to the ground and continuing to kick him after he went into convulsions. Two high school students were charged with homicide and ethnic intimidation and a third was charged with aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation, and other crimes. Charges were pending against a fourth, a juvenile, as of the end of July. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) requested the launching of a civil rights investigation by the Department of Justice and for federal monitors to be dispatched to the area, after local authorities expressed doubts that the incident involved racism.
- In July 2007 David Ritcheson committed suicide. The Mexican-American teenager was the victim of a brutal racially motivated attack in a town outside of Houston, Texas, in April 2006. The attackers broke his jaw, burned him with cigarettes, attempted to carve a swastika in his chest, and poured bleach on him. The most severe injuries were caused when they violently sodomized Ritcheson with a patio umbrella pole. Ritcheson was hospitalized and required thirty surgeries for his injuries, but never fully recovered from the physical and psychological trauma of the attack. He subsequently collaborated with the Anti-Defamation League in creating an antihate program at his high school, and one year after the attack testified before the U.S. House of Representative’s Judiciary Committee in hearings concerning the strengthening of federal hate crime laws. Three months later Ritcheson committed suicide. The accused were sentenced to life imprisonment and ninety years, respectively, for aggravated sexual assault; an appeal by one of the defendants was dismissed in March 2008.
- On August 10, 2007, in Seaside, California, a man posing as an employer, picked up Artemio Santiago García, an immigrant from Oaxaca, Mexico, and drove him to an abandoned building. According to prosecutors, Blevins clubbed Santiago over the head with a flashlight and punched and kicked him repeatedly. Santiago was knocked unconscious and suffered severe injuries.
- On September 30, 2007, in Avon Park, Florida, attackers set fire to the home of a citizen of Hispanic origin and painted an obscene anti-Puerto Rican epithet on the wall of the garage.
- On May 4, 2007, in Gaithersburg, Maryland, attackers set fire to CASA de Maryland, center for immigrant assistance. The center had previously received repeated threats.
- On October 8, 2007, in Omaha, Nebraska, unknown attackers damaged the property of a Hispanic family, painting “white power” and a swastika on two vehicles and setting them on fire.
- On August 16, 2008, in Staten Island, New York, a man vandalized and damaged several shops and restaurants catering to a Mexican clientele, smashing into the windows with a vehicle. Community leaders expressed concern that “the rampage was motivated by ethnic hatred,” while there were no reported arrests.
- In San Dimas, California, in April, 2008, two men attacked and stabbed 22-year-old Yoo Sun in the back and the face, requiring an airlift for emergency medical treatment. A police spokesman said the attackers were shouting white power slogans. A 27-year-old and a 15-year old had been charged with attempted murder which was being investigated as a hate crime.
- In July, 2008, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, attackers vandalized the automobile of a Sikh family with obscenities. The family also reported prior incidents of harassment.
- In January 2008 in Queens, New York, an attacker shouting xenophobic epithets assaulted a worshipper at a Sikh temple. David Wood, 36, was subsequently charged with “second-degree assault as a hate crime, second- and third-degree assault and second-degree aggravated harassment.”
Executive Summary | Violent Hate Crimes on the Rise | Violence Based on Racism and Xenophobia | Violence Based on Religious Bias | Violence Based on Sexual Orientation Bias | Violence Based on Disability Bias | The Framework of Law | Monitoring Violent Hate Crimes | Recommendations | Section Endnotes |