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Prosecuting Hate Crimes

(This article quotes George Zimmerman’s profanity that he stated in his call to police on the evening of February 26, 2012.)

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Benjamin B. Wagner, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California

“Crimes motivated by hatred, whether directed at the victim because of that person’s actual or perceived race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, can have a disproportionate impact on communities and pose unique challenges for investigators and prosecutors. Understanding those challenges is critical to effectively preventing and prosecuting hate crimes.” From: Unique Approaches for a Unique Type of Crime: Prosecuting Hate Crimes, Benjamin B. Wagner, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California

One night in June of this year, I was up late and decided to see if there were any good movies on television.  There weren’t, so I went to On Demand for premium channels and found a movie titled “Blind Faith” on Showtime.   Turns out that there are several movies with that title, but the one I watched stars Charles S. Dutton, Courtney B. Vance, and Lonette McKee.   The plot advertised for the movie does not give it due justice.   Some might mistake the word “faith” for “religion.”  This movie is not about religion.  It’s a film about prejudices – prejudices between Irish and Italians, Blacks and Whites, straights and homosexuals, artists and traditional careers.  And, it all plays out in circumstances BlindFaith-PosterArtsurrounding a death penalty murder trial.

Courtney B. Vance plays the character of an attorney, and the movie begins with him waiting on the verdict in a murder trial, in present day.  He then takes us back to 1957 and forward again.  The message that biased juries convict innocent Black defendants, and acquit guilty White defendants, caught my attention.  The movie ended with people marching while chanting “No justice.  No peace.” I could have sworn that it was released in 2012.  I did not know it was released in 1998.  Here we are in 2013, and the struggles for equality brought out in “Blind Faith” are still with us.

I saw this movie right around the time when jury selection began in the George Zimmerman case.  It was prophetic.   Two days after the verdict, Juror B37 confirmed that the George Zimmerman jury was biased and conniving. Read the rest of this entry

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