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“Our diversity is what makes us stronger, and we will not relent in promoting and defending DC values”

by Prince Of Petworth June 5, 2017 at 10:00 am 26 Comments


Photo by PoPville flickr user Miki J.

From the Mayor’s Office Saturday:

“Mayor Bowser issued the following statement regarding the nooses found in Washington, DC over the past week:

“We are an inclusive city, and we do not tolerate signs of hate, ignorance, and fear. I have directed the Metropolitan Police Department to investigate these incidents, the Office of Human Rights to activate our hate crimes protocol, and the Office of Religious Affairs to engage faith leaders to be a resource for residents. We also ask the public to call MPD at (202) 727-9099 or text 50411 if you have information about these incidents.

Our diversity is what makes us stronger, and we will not relent in promoting and defending DC values. We do not take these incidents lightly, and we will not accept that signs of hate are signs of our time.”

  • JB

    Sincere question: Given the high incidence of reported hate crimes that are later proved to be fake (i.e. planted by ostensible victims to prove a point, attract attention, etc.), doesn’t it make sense to proceed cautiously here?

    Obviously, if these nooses were placed with malicious intent, then that is cause for concern. Bigotry and racial discrimination are real and pernicious. But it’s important not to amplify a climate of fear around this stuff, particularly if this was done as a stunt by someone misguidedly seeking to “spark a conversation.”

    • saf

      Citations please?

      • GBinCH

        I can think of one or two situations from the past few years, but to say “high incidence” is a bit of a stretch.
        .
        If this turns out to be a fake hate crime, the perpetrator of the hoax will look bad, not Bowser. On the other hand, if her response was tepid, and it wasn’t a hoax, then she looks bad. I can’t see anything obviously negative in her response to this.

        • textdoc

          +1 to GBinCH.

        • eva

          Agreed.

          There may be a hoax now and then, but I do not believe and do not believe others can provide evidence to support the fact that they are more common than actual hate crimes.

          And regardless of who did it, the result is the same right? People feel fear and unease and are reminded of ugly events in the past and present. Leaders need to address these feelings in their communities–regardless.

          • JB

            No, the “result” is not the same. If we respond to fake hate crimes the same way that we respond to real ones, then it incentivizes people to perpetrate further hoaxes in the interest of the “conversation.”

            There is real bigotry in the world. But the cause of truth is harmed by these hoaxes, no matter how well-intentioned the perpetrators may be.

      • stegman
        • HaileUnlikely

          There is a very big difference between saying “the number of reported hate crimes that turn out to be hoaxes is much larger than zero” and “most reported hate crimes are hoaxes.” I don’t think anybody here is trying to argue the position that the number of reported hate crimes that are hoaxes is in fact zero. Yes, a non-zero number of them have been hoaxes. The question here is whether the proportion of reported hate crimes that turn out to be hoaxes is so large that it is reasonable to reflexively assume that a given newly-reported one is likely a hoax. Personally, I don’t believe that to be the case.

          • textdoc

            Amen. For the number of hoaxes to be meaningful, we have to compare it with the overall number of reported hate crimes or hate incidents.

      • Morton

        While I don’t agree with the “high incidence” assertion above (and I’m also not sure I think it’s fair to call these types of crimes “fake”) I do agree that this sort of thing does indeed happen. One that garnered national media attention recently was the case of the Ashburn Colored School in Loudon County being vandalized with tags like swastikas and white power. Turns out that 3 of the 5 who did it were minorities themselves.

        • textdoc

          Regarding reported hate crimes that turned out to be hoaxes… they’re a pretty small percentage of reported hate crimes.
          .
          Slate, in the introduction to its ongoing list of post-election hate crimes, says: “The Southern Poverty Law Center, which has aggregated media reports and gathered submissions from its website, catalogued 1064 such incidents, 13 of which were later debunked as false reports, in the first month after Trump won the presidency. (Twenty-six of those incidents were perpetrated against Trump supporters.)”
          .
          http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/12/hate_in_america_a_list_of_racism_bigotry_and_abuse_since_the_election.html
          .
          Hoaxes and anti-Trump-supporter incidents get a lot of media attention, but they’re still dwarfed by the number of actual hate crimes.

        • textdoc

          This FiveThirtyEight article does a good job of distinguishing between hate _crimes_ per se and hate incidents, and notes the difficulties in collecting/comparing data:
          .
          “The federal government doesn’t track hate crimes systematically (agencies report to the FBI voluntarily), and the Southern Poverty Law Center uses media accounts and people’s self-reports to assess the situation. […]
          .
          “The FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program collects hate crime data from law enforcement agencies. But because the data is submitted voluntarily, it’s unclear how comprehensive the data set is. We don’t have data from Hawaii, for instance. Moreover, the UCR Program collects data on only prosecutable hate crimes, which make up a fraction of hate incidents (which includes non-prosecutable offenses, such as circulation of white nationalist recruitment materials on college campuses).
          .
          “On the other hand, the Southern Poverty Law Center data — which comes from a combination of curated media accounts and self-reported form entries — includes both hate crimes and non-prosecutable hate incidents.”

          https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/higher-rates-of-hate-crimes-are-tied-to-income-inequality/

        • textdoc

          “The legal definition of bias-motivated crimes varies from state to state, with the same acts bringing vastly different punishments depending on where they occur. Five states do not have any anti-hate statutes: Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, Wyoming and Indiana, where a bill failed again this year.
          .
          “A patchwork of state and federal laws, along with underreporting, means it is unclear how often hate crimes occur — a portrait advocates say is needed to help shape public policy and heighten awareness.
          .
          “The F.B.I.’s latest report, released in November, showed a 6.7 percent rise in reported hate crimes in 2015. But the federal tracking system relies on police departments to voluntarily submit such crimes to the F.B.I. And not all opt to report.”
          .
          https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/30/us/hate-crimes-legislation.html

          • JB

            Textdoc, the SPLC is NOT an unbiased source. They have an interest in inflating the number of these incidents (e.g. by counting dubious reports as legitimate hate crimes), because, lo and behold, the more alarmed people are, the more the SPLC’s donations increase! Funny how that works.

          • textdoc

            As the FiveThirtyEight article (which is pretty dispassionate and data-oriented) notes, there are basically only two entities in the U.S. that are collecting reports of hate crimes and/or hate incidents: the FBI and the SPLC.
            .
            So I’m not really sure where else you expect people to look for the data. The “Fake Hate Crimes” website you listed isn’t attempting to aggregate reports of real hate crimes, just fake ones.
            .
            A count/listing of fake hate crimes doesn’t really mean much unless you have a comparable count/listing of real hate crimes to compare it to. There’s a big difference between 13 hoaxes of out, say, 26 reports and 13 hoaxes out of 500 or 1000 reports.

      • JB

        @saf: Here you go: http://fakehatecrimes.org/

        • Colhi

          This is not an unbiased site. The person who runs this site is trying to prove a political point. Take the information with a grain of salt.

          • JB

            Sure, take it with a grain of salt. But virtually all of those incidents are linked to citations in mainstream news sources. So you can’t just dismiss them out of hand. (Nice try though!)

        • west_egg

          “A small percentage of reported hate crimes turn out to be fabrication. Therefore, your argument is invalid.” — JB
          .
          FYI, your question isn’t sounding quite so “sincere” anymore.

    • Euclid

      There have been WAY more instances of this being done with malicious intent than there have been of nooses being left as a hoax.

    • Anon

      I would think that regardless of who is putting these up, the sentiment that it is thoroughly inappropriate and hateful to the community stands, no? If someone put it up to fabricate a hate crime, isn’t that still, in and of itself, a hate crime? I’d probably feel differently if she makes any accusations specifically, but the message is fairly broad.

  • Guillermo Brown

    “I have directed the …Office of Religious Affairs to engage faith leaders to be a resource for residents.” Huh?

    • Blithe

      Why “Huh?” Are you surprised — as I am — that there actually is an Office of Religious Affairs? Are there other resources that you feel should be pro-actively mobilized for citizens needing some type of support?

      • textdoc

        That line didn’t jump out at me the way it evidently jumped out at Guillermo Brown, but once he pointed it out, I guess I did find myself wondering (to paraphrase Tina Turner) what religion had to do with it.
        .
        I guess it’s because hate crimes have historically been perpetrated against places of worship, e.g., synagogues and black churches? And because of the increase in hate crimes/hate incidents directed against people who are (or who are perceived to be) Muslim?

        • Blithe

          I skimmed through that bit when I read the original post — but Guillermo Brown’s post was what caught my attention. My guess is that religious institutions — as part of their communities in ways that, say, the police and mental health agencies might not be, are being encouraged to provide community support in response to hate crimes that might feel more accessible than other types of service providers. Someone experiencing anxiety that they connect with the two recent noose incidents might not have the resources or comfort level — or discomfort level — to reach out beyond their own community, but might find appropriate support from a neighborhood church, mosque, or temple– and from people that are already a familiar part of the community. So my skimming left me with: “Hmmm. Good idea as part of a multi-pronged approach.” And I was, and am still wondering about: “Huh?”

          • textdoc

            Fair enough re. how religious institutions “might feel more accessible than other types of service providers.” Thanks!

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