Hate crimes

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 10, 2005

While it may not qualify as a hate crime in the estimation of federal bureaucrats, the weekend savage mob beating of man in Suffolk is certainly a crime of hate, and ignorance.

Marvin Jackson, 18, of Newsoms was visiting family in the 1200 block of East Washington Street Saturday when he was severely beaten. The victim told police he had been assaulted by five males who were guests at a party at the house. As he was repeatedly struck, kicked and hit with a chair, Jackson said the suspects yelled homosexual slurs.

Four young men were arrested over the weekend in connection with the beating and a fifth was arrested Monday night.

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Suffolk police acted appropriately in turning the case over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for investigation of a possible hate crime. Regardless of your opinion of the merits of hate crime legislation, local authorities were correct in exploring ever angle to make sure the perpetrators were subjected to the harshest possible punishment.

It was found that Jackson’s beating did not qualify as a hate crime since state code defines hate crimes as only those that address race, religion and gender.

But according to FBI statistics, hate crimes based on sexual orientation followed only those based on race and religion in 2003.

Fortunately this time, Jackson’s wounds were not serious, requiring only stitches, but it could have been much worse. What’s more, as gays and lesbians are publicly vilified more and more and as state and national leaders seek to instill fear in the populace by portraying them as somehow unworthy of rights guaranteed to other citizens, it should come as no surprise that the more ignorant, intolerant and brutal elements in society will become increasingly likely to act on their vile impulses.

It is those who attacked Marvin Jackson who are the ones unworthy of society’s protections and it is hoped the commonwealth’s attorney’s office will pursue this case aggressively to show that such animal behavior will not be tolerated in Suffolk..