I’m sure Carol Ann and Laura Stutte can relate: A gay couple in Clayton, North Carolina, are holed up a nearby motel after their home was set ablaze in an arson attack, which followed multiple instances of anti-gay torment over the past year. The male couple, who don’t want to be identified, were thankfully out of town when the fire was set in the early morning on Friday. They’ve already dealt with a harassing letter left in their mailbox, a slur scribbled on their house with a marker, and slashes car tires. Police don’t have any suspects as yet, but they are searching for a vehicle in connection with the crime. In North Carolina, hate crime statutes do not include sexual orientation — N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-401.14, which covers damaging another person’s property, covers only “race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin” — so unless the feds are involved this is “just arson.”
Since sexual orientation is covered by the Federal hate-crime law, couldn’t the perpetrator be charged by the Feds even though state law doesn’t consider it a hate crime?
That’s what i’m thinking; i think Queerty just wanted a headline.
Items only escalate to a Federal crime when it falls under the Federal government’s jurisdiction. The easy way to do that is for the crime to have some sort of interstate connection.
Destroying someone’s property (by whatever means) isn’t in itself a Federal crime, whether it was motivated by hate or not.
“Since sexual orientation is covered by the Federal hate-crime law, couldn’t the perpetrator be charged by the Feds even though state law doesn’t consider it a hate crime?”
Yeah, if you report it to the FBI liaison in Charlotte. Would you like the number so that you can personally contact them if your house is burned down because you are Gay? That will be you only recourse … seeing as North Carolina won’t consider it a hate crime.
And property damage is not a federal crime unless it is done on federal property.
@Debbie: “And property damage is not a federal crime unless it is done on federal property.”
That’s not entirely true.
Federal criminal jurisdiction would be invoked if the perpetrator resided outside North Carolina, or if there was incitement or a conspiracy that involved parties who resided outside North Carolina, or if any perpetrator or conspirator was a federal officer or foreign national. There are probably other ways, but they also aren’t necessarily applicable.
Send this letter asking for investigations:
Atty General Eric Holder
NC SBI / Atty General Roy Cooper
NC Gov Bev Perdue
Hate Crime Laws must be proven to have substance.
Please step in and investigate the House Fire at 18 Newcastle Ct. in Clayton, NC. It is questionable that Sheriff Steve Bizzell did too quickly make the determination, before completing the investigation, that this was Not a Hate Crime.
With a suspect vehicle still at large, with the investigation uncompleted and less than two days later, with neighbors saying this is a hate-related crime, and with having had multiple incidents clearly motivated by Hate, two reported to Police, telling the residents to “leave”, leading up to Crimes such as what is being investigated as Intended Arson,…
Then there must be a more carefully considered and Thoroughly Investigated process engaged before hastily dismissing the potential for Hate Crime Determinations, especially in small towns in the South involving Gay Victims by a Sheriff who is the son of a Pentecostal-Holiness preacher, and procedures should, moreover, be Applied Equally among All US Citizens in all cases.
It does not appear that this has transpired affirmatively in this case.
Well … I feel safe in assuming that the people who committed this particular crime will not reside outside of North Carolina. Highly doubt that they are federal officers/foreign nationals as well. I’m guessing that they are some inbred hillbillies with 2-4 good teeth. Images from the movie Deliverance keep coming to mind …
Did Police actually FILE Reports when the couple contacted them? Are there Reports on file, or did the Police just dismiss the calls?
If, as Sheriff Bizzell says, the previous incidents are “not Related” to the fire, then there should be no reason that those Reports, IF they were indeed filed by Police, should not be available to the general public by means of the Freedom of Information Act.
If no reports were filed, when (gay) residents reported these clearly threatening incidents, then this might indicate the attitude of the Local Atuhorities may be, either intentionally or unintentionally, neglegent, probably due to bias.
This, in combination with the fact that the local Clayton News-Star has yet to even report that the fire “Occurred” leads me to believe that there is a “let’s just pretend that neither Gays nor Hate exists in Clayton” and “We don’t have to treat this with credibility, nor do we have to follow Federal Hate Laws”
What follow up did Police do, if any?
Did they investigate (effectively) the tire slashing? Did they photograph the marker message written on the house wall? Did they collect the note left in the USPS mailbox? (Isn’t this a Federal crime?)
If the calls to the Police WERE filed, then why in the world aren’t these considered as potentially related, and not just dismissed (withing 2 days) as “Not related” by Sheriff Bizzell?
Hypothetical: If a woman repeatedly reported to the Police that she was being stalked, and then she turned up murdered, Wouldn’t the Plolice be looking at the preveiously reported events? I think so! And I also think that the Sheriff has been much too quick to dismiss a potential relationship.
Bottom Line Question:
How were the previous reports to the Police treated at the time of the calls?? _________________________
Also ironic is that Clayton has received a national award as ““All Stars” for the 2010 National Night Out, the annual event that promotes awareness of neighborhood crime prevention”
What entity awarded THIS? They might wish to be informed of recent happenings in Clayton. It doesn’t seem that anyone was “watching”, including the Police, who had indeed been informed.
The Award was issued to the town of Clayton by the NATW, the National Association of Town Watch, which incidentally, is sponsored by Target, no less.
I’ll be the first to admit I could be wrong about this, but I think the Feds can step in if a Federal law has been broken whether or not the crime is interstate. For example, the sale and consumption of “medical marijuana” was legalized in California but that didn’t stop the Feds from interfering because it was still illegal under federal law. (The DOJ has stepped back but that’s a political decision, not a legal one. It’s likely that if the next Prez is a Republican that Federal interference in the trade will resume.)
The Federal Government Can Indeed step in and ensure that Rederal Laws are adhered to, When Local and/or State Authorities are not upholding Federal Laws.
THIS is precisely why everyone should be contacting the SBI and the FBI.
I will fathom a guess that the Previous Reports to Police were either:
a.) Not actually Written and Filed by the Police, or
b.) Neglected by the Police in the sense that no evidence was collected, or any actions taken to genuinely solve the offenses.
Had Police actually pursued the Previous Incidents effectively, then the Arson may have not happened, or it may be more readily solved now. Whether the Fire can ever be proven to have been a Hate crime, the possiblility that Police did not pursue the Previous Acts of Factual Hate would be a Failure on the part of Law Enforcement to enforce Federal Hate Crime laws.
We shall see where this goes. Keep the pressure on!
Now being investigated as an inside job (insurance fraud). Could go either way. Guess we have to wait and see.
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