Society Must Combat Vicious Hate Crimes

Every day, someone, somewhere, is targeted because of a difference of skin color, race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin or ethnicity.

This hostility or violence directed against minorities is termed under our law as a hate crime, for these crimes are committed with the weapon of hate.

Hate fuels the cruel words, smashing fists, battering head bashes, savage kicks and exploding bullets. Hate hurts, maims and kills.

This rapidly spreading epidemic of hate crimes is continuing unchecked.

Half a dozen hate crimes are reported every day in California, according to the Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes. The Commission believes the number would be far higher if every incident were reported.

That makes at least 42 hate crimes a week, at least 180 hate crimes every month and at least 2,160 hate crimes every year that occur in California.

These crimes of hate can take the form of vandalism, arson, assault and even murder.

Look around — read the newspaper. I guarantee you will find that a hate crime has occurred in your neighborhood, for no one is exempt from attack.

And hate crimes can occur anywhere, as I discovered Friday night when I witnessed a brutal, racially provoked hate crime at the mall in my hometown of Concord, Calif.

At about 8 p.m., my grandmother, two younger sisters and I were trying to get out of the Sears parking lot when our car became boxed in by a tow truck, giving us front-row seats to the savage beating of an African American tow truck driver.

Two white Nazi-looking thugs stopped the tow truck driver as he was walking over to move his truck so they could pass. The two thugs said, “”You’re not moving fast enough, N-word,”” as they started pummeling his body with their fists.

The tow truck driver tried fighting back at first, but he was no match for those fine-tuned killing machines, who then threw him to the ground and took turns slamming his head on the cement street and kicking him in the stomach and groin.

Horrified, I could only think about getting out there to stop the beating.

In a panicked frenzy I tried repeatedly to open the passenger door, not realizing until after quite a few unsuccessful attempts that the child safety locks would not let me out.

I shouted for my sister, who was driving, to unlock the doors. But still I couldn’t open the door, and I realized too late that I was sitting on the side with a crushed door — I couldn’t get out.

Completely helpless to stop the attack on the tow truck driver, I watched horrified as the two white thugs continued to batter away at the curled-up tow truck driver, their intense and deliberate movements transfixing me. So much hate. So much pain for the poor man.

We did not have a phone to call the police. We sat there in the car watching the life being beaten out of this completely innocent man. Frustration mounted. We had to do something.

So we honked the horn continuously as we moved the car forward, for we were going to force those two thugs to stop even if we had to run them over.

It worked. With very deliberate motions, the two thugs got off the tow truck driver and moved with precise steps to their two-door, green Ford truck.

I do not know how the tow truck driver is now, but even after being so severely beaten he could barely walk, he still managed to get out his tools and attempt to help the lady with the car trouble.

I will never forget that tow truck man’s courage and strength for not allowing those thugs to make him their victim. He fought back the only way he could, and that was to fight the pain. He would not allow his attackers to claim his dignity.

The question that plagued me after witnessing this horrific attack was: How was it possible to hate so much that it could drive someone to beat a complete stranger to within an inch of his life?

And the only answer that I came up with, is that I don’t have the answer.

Witnessing that brutal beating was a harsh wake-up call, making me realize what a real and dangerous threat hate is to us all.

Hate does not bring our community together; instead, it destroys us, one bond of trust at a time.

According to the 1997 statistics provided by the FBI, 8,049 hate crimes were reported by various police agencies across the country.

Even without taking into account the substantial number of hate crimes that are never reported, the sheer strength of the reported statistics alone is evidence enough that hate continues to thrive and poison our society.

Yet pure numbers cannot tell the story of the terror of being made a victim of a hate crime. The actual terror and pain caused by the beatings, vandalism, stalking, murders and racial slurs are things that cannot accurately be measured.

Hate crimes are not confined neatly to urban cities or neighborhoods; the FBI has identified schools and college campuses as the third most common place for hate crimes to occur.

According to the Student Office for Human Relations, a hate/bias prevention and education program at UCSD, there were seven hate incidents reported for the year of 2000.

The SOHR reported that less than a year ago on Oct. 12, 2000, graffiti was written on the men’s bathroom, which read, “”Fuck all gooks. Asians get off our white campus.””

According to the SOHR, five hate incidents occurred on our campus in 1999. The SOHR reports in 1999 that on Feb.8, feces was smeared on the door of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Association.

So it is clear that even our campus is not immune from the insidious disease of hate that is rampantly spreading throughout our society.

But how do we as a society combat hate?

I offer this solution: We as a society must declare a war on hate. We must be diligent to speak up and speak out when witnessing a hate crime or when we hear racial epithets.

We can no longer remain silent, for silence is what hate feeds upon.

If we don’t make the offenders fear any repercussions for their actions, hate will continue to spread and lead to further hate crimes.

And remember, if hate can hurt, maim and kill, so too does our silent lack of action.

Thus if hate is the weapon of choice for racists, so then our weapon of choice in the war against hate must be the spoken word.

Thus I am sending out a call to my fellow students: We need solidarity in order to break down the walls of hate that divide and hurt one another.

United we will triumph over hate, divided we will fail.

So who will speak up against hate? Any volunteers?

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