up in flames

North Carolina Arson: Not A Hate Crime?

The unidentified gay couple in Clayton, North Carolina, whose home was set ablaze early Friday while they out of town may not be victims of a hate crime, claims Johnston County’s Steve Bizzell. Um, but what about those three instances of harassment over the past year, including an anti-gay letter left in their mailbox and a slur scrawled on their home? Well unless there’s direct evidence those incidents are tied to this one, it’s not going to fall under a hate crime classification. “As the investigation moves forward, if we see any indication that the hate crime status applies, we will consider it,” says Bizzell. For now, then, the fire — which was started from inside the home — is just your run of the mill neighborhood arson. Though the FBI and ATF, both federal agencies, have been called in to assist in the investigation, which is good — because in North Carolina, no state law would classify a sexuality-based arson as a hate crime. Meanwhile, the couple is still evading any press attention.