Wednesday, January 24, 2007

N.C. College Football Players Charged With Hate Crime

Three football players at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina are charged with ethnic intimidation after they allegedly beat three Palestinian students without provocation, while calling them "terrorists" and uttering other racial slurs. The AP reports:

Three football players at Guilford College, a school with a Quaker background, face assault and ethnic intimidation charges after an attack on three Palestinian students, authorities said.

The victims were beaten with fists, feet and brass knuckles early Saturday by attackers who called them "terrorists" and used racial slurs, the News & Record of Greensboro reported Tuesday . . .

"It was the most horrific experience of my life," Awartani told the News & Record. "This was a horrible, unprovoked hate crime."

Awartani said he was found to have a concussion and had trouble walking on his own for several days after the attack.

It is worth noting that North Carolina has a distinct criminal offense for the crime of "ethnic intimidation." I point this out because HB 1459, which has been introduced in the Indiana House by Rep. Porter (D-Indianapolis)this year, does not create a new criminal offense. Rather, it allows a judge to impose a tougher sentence if the offender committed the crime because of bias against the victim's race, national origin, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or sex. In this sense, HB 1459 is a weaker hate crime law than what some other states like North Carolina have enacted. I'm not complaining because I believe HB 1459 is an improvement over the current law, but it's an important distinction lawmakers should keep in mind as they consider its passage.

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