Examples of Hate Crime
Racism in America: Black Racism
According to Merriam-Webster, the word “terrorism” is a systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion. In layman’s terms, terrorism is a deliberate use of violence or force to incite fear and terror to civilians.
Studies found that there are over 100 different definitions of terrorism. The concept behind terrorism is controversial in many ways and often used by politicians and the government to make a point, for campaigns or to delegitimize an opposing party.
Common definitions of terrorism can only denote violent and criminal acts that intend to create terror that are caused by political, religious and social reasons that the main targets of these actions are usually civilians.
Modern definitions differentiate ordinary acts of terrorism as unlawful violence and the other one as war. The latter might be violent in nature, employing similar strategies, but it is to protect non-combatants or civilians whereas the former are done by a select group that advocates extremist beliefs and ideology.
It is disheartening that there are no criminal law definition that are universally agreed and legally binding in the international community. Terrorism has been practiced by many political organizations to promote their ideologies. Practitioners include both left and right wings of governments, religious groups, socialist groups, nationalistic groups, ruling governments and revolutionaries.
Among the most prolific terrorist groups in the United States that spans more than a century of criminal activities would be the Ku Klux Klan or KKK (informally known as the Klan). Believed to be the longest running terrorist group in the U.S., the KKK committed acts of terrorism like:
- midnight parades wearing conical hooded robes
- public demonstrations, rallies, protests and speeches
- rampaging speeches during crowded events
- videos propagated throughout the internet
- posting unwarranted white supremacy beliefs in internet forums
- preaching white supremacy ideologies in church masses
- arson or burning buildings and houses with people inside
- leaflets and fliers distributed around advocating white supremacy sentiments
- posters and print ads with worded terrorist sentiments posted
- hate notes or mass mailing
- supplying firearms to warring countries
- manic shootings
- illegal executions (hanging)
- burning crosses
- public humiliations
- destruction of government property
During the first incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan, they would sweep through the southern states after the Civil War and attack and kill African-Americans on their wake, leaving the dead bodies scattered on the road. KKK members burned houses, intimidated the black people and murder their way to restore white supremacy in the southern states. They openly conduct executions by hanging wearing masks and claiming that they are ghosts of Confederate soldiers to frighten the superstitious African-Americans. They termed the word “negro” as something derogatory.
In the succeeding incarnations of Ku Klux Klan, they launched the “reign of terror”, which opposes Republican leaders and assassinated political leaders that sympathized with the abolition of slavery.
A high concentration of these criminal activities by the Ku Klux Klan happened and is continuously happening in states such as Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.
KKK’s targets have progressed throughout the years. They started with African-Americans and their sympathizers and went on to include the homosexuals, immigrants, Jews, communists, Catholics, and other non-Christian religions.
Their conical hooded robes that KKK members call “regalia”, which was somehow borrowed from the Nazareno priests’ capirotes, became a symbol for terrorism. The capirotes started as a non-terrorizing clothing worn by Nazareno priests in Spain during Holy Week and in the Spanish Inquisition marches before that. Today, these robes became part and parcel with KKK and its identity along with the burning cross.
The “regalia”, which is worn to hide their real identities, had now become synonymous to white supremacy, racial discrimination and terrorism. Ku Klux Klan members, both men and women, would parade during street demonstrations wearing the robes to declare their strength to the spectators.
Klu Klux Klan members are mostly of Protestant Christians. So, it is surprising that one of KKK’s tradition that is considered an act of terrorism is the cross burning or cross lighting. It is a widely practiced KKK tradition, which many Christians considered sacrilegious. KKK members would burn crosses on hillsides or near the homes of people they wish to intimidate. When asked for the reason for it, KKK members explained that they’re lighting the cross as a symbol of their faith, not burning it.
Throughout KKK history, the following is a rundown of their most prominent acts of terrorism.
- 1868 – Ku Klux Klan members from Tennessee were imported to South Carolina to murder eight African-Americans, two of which are state congressmen.
- 1925 – D.C. Stephenson, Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment for the abduction, forced intoxication, and rape of Madge Oberholtzer – his secretary. She killed herself after the incident. Her body was found with numerous bite marks that it was described like she had been “chewed by a cannibal.”
- 1951 – Christmas Eve bombing of the home of Harry and Harriet Moore, activists for the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), in Mims, Florida, causing both their deaths.
- 1958 – Battle of Hayes Pond. Ku Klux Klan members were routed by hundreds of Lumbee Native Americans after they burned crosses at the homes of two Lumbees aligned with white people in North Carolina.
- 1963 – Bombing of the 16th Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. This event killed 4 African-American girls and civil rights workers. Klansmen Robert Chambliss (convicted in 1977), Thomas Blanton (convicted in 2001), Bobby Frank Cherry (convicted 2002) and Herman Cash (died before being convicted) perpetrated it.
- 1964 – Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee, two African-American teenagers, were murdered in Mississippi. KKK and former Mississippi policeman and sheriff’s deputy James Ford Seale was convicted and sentenced to three life sentences in August 2007 when a confession by Klansman Charles Marcus Edwards was used against him.
- 1971 – Ku Klux Klan members bombed 10 school buses in Pontiac, Michigan.
- 1979 – Greensboro Massacre. KKK and American Nazi Party members killed five protesters in Greensboro, North Carolina.
- 1996 – Christian Knights of the KKK members Joshua Grant England and Clayton Edward Spires Jr. drove by and African-American bar in South Carolina and shot at least 10 rounds of ammunition from a SKS assault rifle, injuring three people.
- 1996 – Joshua Grant Kennedy, a KKK member, fired 11 continuous times to a group of African-American teenagers outside a nightclub in South Carolina. Three of the teenagers were wounded. In 1998, Kennedy was sentence to 26 years imprisonment