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Hate Crimes against Native Americans Essay

There have been incidents in the past wherein crime victims are people from different racial ethnicities, gender, and group affiliations. The acts perpetrated against them are sometimes motivated by hate. These acts characterize hate crime, which has been prevalent in the United States for many years. There have been periods in time when hate crimes targeted a specific racial group. Hate crimes are violent acts toward people based on race, religion and sexual orientation, and Native Americans became the usual assault victims mainly due to misconceptions of people about them.

Hate Crime

Hate crime is an old phenomenon that has plagued Americans for many years now. This term and the interest that society has placed on it are recent developments, although the acts associated with hate crimes have a long history. Because of its complexity and the difficulty of including all facets, it would be hard to exhaustively define hate crimes. In addition, people have different concepts of hate crimes. Defining the concept tends to be influenced by one’s social norms, political interests, and cultural differences.

It would not be a surprise that there are even various academic and professional definitions of hate crimes around the world (Hall, 2005, pp. 1-2). In its simplest form, hate crimes are defined as violent acts motivated by hate and target people or organizations based on race or the group affiliation that they belong to (Hall, 2005, p. 2; American Psychological Association, 2009). Hate crimes emphasize the underlying values and character of the offenders, which sets hate crimes apart from other criminal acts.

In addition, the criminal behavior that the offender exhibits is driven by “prejudices from criminal conduct motivated by lust, jealousy, greed, politics, and so forth” (Gerstenfeld & Grant, 2003, p. 304). Race and group affiliation are not the sole reasons which motivate hate crimes. In most cases, hate crime victims are targeted because of color, national origin, gender, ethnicity, disability, and sexual orientation (Gerstenfeld & Grant, 2003, p. 304). According to an FBI hate crime report, race outranked religious and sexual orientation as motivation of hate crimes (Ruckman, 2009).

Some people engage in hate crimes because they are influenced by alcohol and drugs. However, the main reason is still based on personal prejudice which blinds people to the reality of what they are doing. Aside from these, people commit hate crimes because of a number of reasons such as experiences with members of minority groups, economic conditions, and racial stereotypes. Whatever the reason may be, one hate crime incident can result to domino effect. This is because a hate crime is not just addressed to a single person, but to the group that the victim represents.

Thus, acts of hate crimes can cause fear in the entire community (Gerstenfeld & Grant, 2003, p. 304). Victims and Statistics Hate crimes can be categorized depending on the basis for the motive. The basis can be gathered from race, religion, and sexual preference. In more ways, hate crimes serve as hate messages directed to the targets. Hate crime informs the victims that they are not welcome to the community or neighborhood (American Psychological Association, 2009). Racial bias remains the main determinant of hate crimes, which affects African Ameiricans, Native Americans, Caucasians, and Asian/Pacific Islanders.

This category of bias refers to the negative opinion towards groups of persons such as blacks, Asians, or whites. This bias is also based on physical characteristics. Religious bias, on the other hand, refers to the negative opinion or attitude directed towards a group of persons who have the same religious beliefs. Lastly, sexual preference bias refers to the negative opinion about a group of persons based on sexual preference (Office of the Attorney General, 2009). 1990-1995 For many years, reports were collected with regards to the prevalence of hate crimes in the United States.

Since 1990, The Hate Crime Statistics Act (HCSA) was enacted to gather data on hate crimes from law enforcement agencies from all over the United States. The following year, in 1991, 4,558 cases of hate crimes were gathered from police departments in 32 states. The next year, the data recorded 7,442 incidents. In 1993, there were 7,587 hate crimes, as reported by 6,865 agencies. By 1994, the number dropped to 5,932. The number increased to 7,947 in 1995 (Anti-Defamation League, 2009). Out of this total, 41 incidents targeted Native Americans or Alaskan Natives (CivilRights, n. d. ).

A number of assaults which occurred between these periods were recorded. One such case, which occurred in August 1991, was said to be a dramatic incident of anti-Semitic hate crime. The incident occurred in Brooklyn in a motorcade for Grand Rabbi Menachem Scheerson. During the parade, a Hasidic Jew driving a car accidentally killed a black youth. This event precipitated four days of rioting full of vandalism, assault, and harassments, especially against Jews. During the riot, a 29-year-old rabbinical student was killed by a group of 15 African Americans.

This incident was “one of blind, baseless bigotry and putrid violent hate” (Gerstenfeld & Grant, 2003, p. 305). There were other incidents of hate crime from 1990 t0 1995. In California alone, there were 44 documented cases wherein persons were attacked due to their sexual orientation. The most interesting finding about the cases is that most of the perpetrators were either underage or in their early 20s (Human Rights Campaign, n. d. , p. 2). 1996 In 1996, the number of hate crime incidents increased. The criminal incidents, motivated by bias, reached to 8,759.

Around 60% or exactly 5,396 of these incidents were motivated by race (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1996). One percent of the incidents were against Native Americans (Central Michigan University, 2006). Incidents based on religious bias accounted for 1,401 of the total number of incidents. Incidents accounted under sexual-orientation bias were 1,016 in total. Other biases based on ethnicity account for the 946 incidents. The most common form of hate crime was intimidation, which accounted for 39% of the total incidents. Destruction or vandalism came as second while assault was third.

During this year, there were 12 recorder individual murders motivated by hate, of which eight were based on racial bias. Furthermore, the detailed information gathered revealed that the state of California has the most number of hate crime incidents, accounting for 2,723 incidents out of the total number of incidents. Intimidation was also the common form of hate crime (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1996). 1997-1999 The number of hate crime incidents decreased in 1997. From 8,759 incidents in 1996, the number decreased to 8,049 in 1997.

The number of incidents further decreased a year later, which accounted for 7,755. The breakdown of the cases according to bias is the following: 4,321 cases were motivated by racial bias, of which 36 were against Native Americans; 1,390 cases by religious bias; and 1,260 cases by sexual orientation. By the year 1999, the number of incidents increased to 7,876. More than 50% of the cases were motivated by racial bias, of which 47 incidents were against Native Americans; 18% motivated by religious bias; and 17% motivated by sexual orientation.

Intimidation is still the number one form of hate crime (Uniform Crime Reports, “Hate Crime Statistics,” n. d. ). One of the brutal cases of hate crime within these periods occurred in 1998, when a disabled man from Texas was murdered. James Byrd, Jr. , a black man, was on his way home from a party when three men offered him a ride to which he agreed. Byrd was taken outside the town and was chained by his ankles to the back of the car. The men then drove the car, thus dragging Byrd along a logging road. Byrd died after having his arm and head ripped apart from his body.

This was a traumatizing experience for the black community (Gerstenfeld & Grant, 2003, pp. 304-305). Another hate crime motivated by sexual orientation bias was committed against a gay college student, Matthew Shepard. Two men robbed and beat him with a pistol, after which they tied him to a fence in a near-freezing temperatures. He died from damages to his brain stem. Another incident took place in Alabama in 1999. Billy Jack Gaither was abducted by two men who got angry by an alleged sexual advance of Gaither.

They beat him with an ax handle and set him on fire atop burning tires (Human Rights Campaign, n. d. ). 2000 By 2000, there was again an increase in the number of hate crime incidents as recorded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The number was 8,063, wherein 53. 8% accounted for racial bias, 18. 3% motivated by religious bias, and 16. 1% motivated by sexual-orientation bias. The main form of hate crime, like from the past years, is intimidation. By this year, the number of offenses against Native American increased from 47 in 1999 to 57 in 2000 (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2001).

Murder cases directly connected to hate crime decreased to 16, from a previous 28 in 1999. Chicago, Columbus, and Colorado have increasing murder trends while New York City, Michigan, San Francisco and Houston have decreasing trends. However, murder is just the tip of the iceberg. Out of all the hate crimes documented for the year 2000, hate crimes occurred in different forms in higher number than the murder cases. Verbal harassment has the highest number of hate crime incidents, accounting for 1,337 cases.

Intimidation is also at the top of the list with 951 cases. Assault/attempted murder comes next with 786 cases. Vandalism accounts for 120 cases while robbery and sexual assaults account for 95 and 80 cases, respectively (Moore, 2001, pp. 12-13). 2001-2004 The incidence of hate crimes increased significantly during 2001. The number of incidences was 9,730, registering a 20. 7% increase. Racial bias was the leading motivation, accounting for 44. 9% (Anti-Defamation League, 2005). One percent of these incidents victimized Native Americans.

This implies that one in ten hate crimes is targeted against the natives. This was said to be an interesting finding because Native Americans, along with Alaskan natives, comprise less than 1% of the U. S. population (Broyles, 2009, p. 30). Also, religious bias accounted for 18. 8% while sexual orientation bias was 14. 3%. The majority of the religious bias incidents were anti-Semitic crimes (Anti-Defamation League, 2005). The following year, FBI reported that the number of hate crime incidents decreased by almost 25%. Incidents were 7,462, as reported by FBI.

As expected, racial bias was seen as the primary motivation, which accounted to almost half of all the incidents during this year (Associated Press, 2003). In addition, there was an increase in the number of incidents against Native Americans. This year, the incidents reached 62 (Federal Bureau of Investigation, n. d. ). Also, more than 19% accounted for religious bias and 16. 7% on sexual-orientation bias (Uniform Crime Reports, “Hate Crime Statistics, 2002,” n. d. ). From 2003 to 2004, the number of hate crime incidents rose by 0. 9%, from 7,489 incidents in 2003 (Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Division, 2005) to 7,649 in 2004 (Federal Bureau of Investigation, n. d. ).

Out of the number of incidents in 2003, racial bias was again the main motivation for the crimes, religious bias followed, and then sexual orientation bias (Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Division, 2005). Again, there was an increase in the number of incidents against Native Americans, the total reaching 76 (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2004). In 2004, more than 50% accounted for incidents motivated by racial bias.

Religious bias accounted for 18% of the incidents while 15. 7% accounted for sexual-orientation bias (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2005, p. 5). It would be interesting to know that crimes motivated by biases in race, religion and sexual orientation comprised a very small percentage of the total number of crimes in 2004. Crimes motivated by bias were only 0. 05% (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, 2005, p. 12). In addition, the number of incidents against Native Americans increased to 83 (federal Bureau of Investigation, n. d. ). 2005 until the present

From 2005 to 2006, there was a 7. 8% increase in the number of hate crime incidents while there was a downward trend from 2006 to 2007. The data from FBI showed that racial bias was the persistent motivation for all crimes, followed by religious bias and sexual orientation bias. In addition, intimidation was the main form of hate crime, except in 2007 where the main form is destruction/damage/vandalism (Federal Bureau of Investigation, n. d. ). Native Americans as Victims Native Americans, also called American Indians, populated North America even before Europeans arrived.

In fact, they have been living in the land for many years (NativeAmericans, 2007). The arrival of Europeans in America was the onset of the hate crimes that targeted Native Americans (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1997). Europeans were materialistic and culturally arrogant that they wanted to lay claim on the land that Native Americans resided on (NativeAmericans, 2007). American Indians found the attitude of Europeans repulsive (NativeAmericans, 2007). Thus, the natives resisted the invaders. In turn, the Europeans considered the Indians as barbaric.

Although most of the natives remained passive, they did not experience so much hate crime as to the near genocide of the Yuki and Cheyenne Indians. By 1848, Indians were already the subject of violence through kidnapping, sexual assault, starvation, depletion of food supplies, fraud, theft, murder, and other atrocities. It was found out that Europeans wanted to exterminate the natives to give way to White settlements. In addition, the state itself sponsored kill parties to achieve this goal (Gerstenfeld & Grant, 2003, p. 6).

In lieu with the genocide, Broyles argued that not all of the deaths were done intentionally (2009, p. 29). The diseases that Europeans brought with them killed many Indians. Aside from the genocide, there were also conflicts which led to events victimizing the natives. Some of these events were the Indian Wars and the establishment of the Indian Removal Act signed by then President Andrew Jackson. The Native Americans were defenseless because they were outnumbered. Aside from this, they lacked advanced weapons and were not willing to cooperate (NativeAmericans, 2007).


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