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An Uncommon (I Think) Reason to Commit Crimes at a Church:

From Newsday:

At first glance, the break-in at the Iglesia Evangelica Refugio de Salvacion looked like another sign of anti-immigrant sentiment on Long Island. [The article later notes some incidents, including an alleged murder and robbery. -EV]

The trespasser left behind three angry notes Wednesday on the altar of the Latino church, including one that said, "Hispanics don't rule, whites do."

But ... Saturday ... a Hispanic man with ties to the congregation was charged in the incident.

Suffolk County police said Christhian Munguia Garcia, 25, turned up at the church late Friday and tossed a log and a bottle at people leaving the building.

Parishioners gave chase, grabbed Garcia and held him until police arrived.

Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri Jr. told Newsday the altercation appeared to be the result of a dispute between Garcia and the church pastor. The pastor, the Rev. Roberto Sanchez, told the newspaper Garcia had previously been kicked out of a service because of bad behavior....

Police spokesman Tim Motz said authorities still considered the incident at the church a bias crime because it was directed at religious practice....

An attorney for Garcia ... said his anger at the church concerned "economic practices," not religion....

UPDATE: Title changed from "... to vandalize a church" to "... to commit crimes at a church."

Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):
Wait a minute.

Bias crime?
9.10.2009 1:44pm
RowerinVa (mail):
It's not so uncommon. I haven't been able to find any statistics that indicate the precise extent of the problem but church burnings, including those where racist or anti-denomination materials are found, are quite frequently found to be inside jobs meant to get the insurance money and upgrade the church, and to get some news coverage and sympathy donations in the process. Some insurers have dropped churches as a group for this reason. Also, a large number of high-publicity race incidents involving anonymous graffiti on college campuses in the 1990s turned out to be staged by one of the purportedly outraged activists.

This is not a comment on any specific tendency on the behalf of minority groups or religious groups. Rather, it is a simply fact of opportunity and incentives. When society creates an opportunity, some theives will take advantage of it; when that opporunity is disproportionately (as racial outrage is) available to a particular group, members of that group will disproportionately figure amongst the thieves. I'm fairly certain that if we guaranteed front-page news stories for people who report epithets against future dead white males, false reporting by future dead white males would skyrocket.

This story is useful, though, as a reminder that one should not take claims of victimhood at face value. Sometimes, "victims" lie or the victimhood is not what is claimed, just as sometimes every other category of people lies or presents a story that is not as claimed. One would think that the Duke rape case proved this once and for all but the debate over the Professor Gates incident proved it did not.
9.10.2009 1:50pm
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):
Why don't we just skip ahead and start charging people with thoughtcrime?
9.10.2009 1:51pm
Just a thought:
Just another example why people should be cautious about jumping to the conclusion that on-the-surface racist acts were actually done by a true racist.
9.10.2009 1:51pm
mf24 (mail):

Just another example why people should be cautious about jumping to the conclusion that on-the-surface racist acts were actually done by a true racist.
Oh, they're almost always done by true racists. Not necessarily white racists ...
9.10.2009 2:11pm
Milhouse (www):
Churches and other houses of worship are often a target of opportunity for random vandals and arsonists. If the place happens to be associated with some "suspect class" it will be portrayed as a "hate crime"; if it isn't, then the crime won't be reported at all, leaving some naive people with the impression that only "suspect class" houses of worship are targeted, or that they're targeted more often than other ones.

We saw this round about 1995 or 96, when for several weeks the usual suspects (SPLC, NYT, etc.) managed to convince people that there was some hate group going round burning black churches.
9.10.2009 2:23pm
wfjag:

Oh, they're almost always done by true racists. Not necessarily white racists ...

Non-whites can be racists? That's not a Politically Corrupt idea.
9.10.2009 2:27pm
Matt_T:
Hate crime hoaxes are hardly uncommon.
9.10.2009 2:43pm
Loren:
When a swastika was spray-painted on the office sign of Rep. David Scott last month, it was quickly deemed to be a racially-motivated hate crime. Which is quite possible, given the proximity of a former white supremacist organization.

However, it occurred to me that a very different motive could have been behind it. Given all the Obama=Hitler language and imagery, what if the vandal was calling Rep. Scott a Nazi, on the grounds that he's a Democrat? That would mean it wasn't a racially-motivated threat at all, and that it wasn't a federal hate crime.

So even though a sign was vandalized with a swastika, whether that act of vandalism is a federal crime or not could hinge on the political motivation of the vandal.
9.10.2009 2:54pm
Philistine (mail):

So even though a sign was vandalized with a swastika, whether that act of vandalism is a federal crime or not could hinge on the political motivation of the vandal.



Isn't vandalizing federal property still a federal crime?

Now, the motive might increase the degree of the crime, but that's hardly limited to racial or political motivations. My favorite example: In Pennsylvania, for example, punch your next-door-neighbor, the teacher, in the nose because he cuts his grass too early on a Saturday morning--simple assault. Punch him in the nose because he gave your child a D--aggravated assault.
9.10.2009 3:14pm
Philistine (mail):
Also on the article--it seems that the "bias crime" they're talking about is throwing the log and bottle and not the breaking and entering to leave notes (which doesn't really seem to be vandalism).
9.10.2009 3:21pm
Mark N. (www):
If angry at being thrown out of church, a better response might be to compose a song
9.10.2009 3:46pm
hattio1:
Huh,
It's not clear from reading either the post or the story that's being linked to. But it seems that Garcia (the man who was arrested) was arrested after throwing a log and a bottle. This occurred on Friday. Then they decided to charge him for the prior break-in. But, there's no evidence (again, limited to the article) that he did the earlier break-in. It seems to me the police want to close two cases for the price of one.
9.10.2009 3:55pm
DennisN (mail):
Going back to the thread title, I'm not at all sure it's an uncommon reason. Being inchoately aggrieved seems to be the motivation for the simple vandal. There is a lot of plain ol' nastiness around without playing dime-store psychologist.
9.10.2009 4:10pm
Loren:
Isn't vandalizing federal property still a federal crime?

Now, the motive might increase the degree of the crime, but that's hardly limited to racial or political motivations.


Oh, by all means the vandalism would still be a crime. It'd just be one handled in the state court of your county, maybe even a magistrate court, rather than in the federal system.

I also hadn't ever thought of the rented local offices of a Representative as being deemed 'federal property' (my old Rep had a local office in a mall), but I freely admit I could be wrong about that.
9.10.2009 5:00pm
richard1 (mail):
We saw this round about 1995 or 96, when for several weeks the usual suspects (SPLC, NYT, etc.) managed to convince people that there was some hate group going round burning black churches.

And the fact that there's always burning of churches going on, and not a hate epidemic, was exposed by a lengthy article in the New Yorker
9.10.2009 5:31pm
neurodoc:
What act(s) of vandalism? The article says there was a break-in and notes were left on the altar, but I don't see any mention of damage to or destruction of property, which is what vandalism entails, doesn't it? (For a remarkable church vandalism story there is the one allegedly perpetrated by William Buckley as a teenager in his CT town, that is according to Gore Vidal after those two mixed up back at the '68 Democratic convention. Sorry, no link to provide to a most memorable hit piece, at which Gore was a master.)
9.10.2009 6:10pm
Sarcastro (www):
More proof there are no more white racists!

You know what this means: Clever Orwell references for everyone, regardless of color!
9.10.2009 6:20pm
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):

Clever Orwell references for everyone, regardless of color!


Is that aimed at me?

I wasn't trying to be clever.

The term "hate crime" irritates me, because if an act is illegal, it's illegal. But I've seen it explained, that for instance, burning a cross on someone's lawn actually goes beyond trespass and whatever property damage occurred; it's meant to sow fear in the black community, so it's kind of like terrorism. And that means that if a minority fakes a hate crime it's still a hate crime, because the effect on the target is the same.

But if you call that crime a bias crime, and say that it's only a bias crime in this case (when a white person wasn't the perp) because a religion was targeted, whereas if a white person had done it then it would be a bias crime against Hispanics; then you have removed the effect on the community and the ONLY crime to be considered is the state of mind of the person performing the act.

I know that motive sometimes enters into criminal trials, but that goes more toward making the state's case that the accused is guilty of whatever the actual crime is, or the defense's case that he isn't. In this case the motive IS the crime. Not the physical act, not the desired effect on others, but simply what was going through the perp's mind while he did whatever it was. This seems downright unAmerican to me.

Am I splitting hairs too much here? IANAL.
9.10.2009 7:29pm
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):
Also, Sarcastro, to invoke the dreaded FALSE DICHOTOMY here:

Between the extremes of hateful white folks terrorizing minorities to keep them in their place; and all white people being perfectly behaved and all hate crimes being hoaxes; there is actually the middle ground of reserving judgment until the actual perpetrator of a particular crime is identified. I don't see anybody here but you suggesting that there are no more white racists. Is it that painful for you to admit that once in a while a minority might actually be guilty of something?
9.10.2009 7:32pm
Houston Lawyer:
We need a term for crimes committed because the perpetrator was mentally impaired. As in, "We thought it was a hate crime, but it turned out to be a _______ crime." I don't immediately have a suggestion for the term, but I think it is clear that one is needed.
9.11.2009 9:25am
Prof. S. (mail):
Laura(southernxyl) - While I generally have a similar disliking for "hate" or "bias" crimes, your argument doesn't quite hold up. We define all sorts of crimes by the underlying motivation. The differences between degrees of murder, and even murder and manslaugher by reference to the motivation.

So, saying "I want to kill this SOB becuase I'm in a bad mood," and "I want to kill this SOB because I just walked in on him sleeping with my wife" gets two different outcomes. Killing in the heat of passion is less morally culpable, so it's manslaughter.

The better argument is that bias crimes treat the different members of the race differently based upon presumptions of their intent. So, if a known white racist targets his crimes, it is presumed that this was a bias crime. If a minority were to do the same thing (and even with the same motivation) - say a Hispanic targeting African Americans or vice versa - I suspect it would be treated differently.

Then again, if this guy is being charged with a "bias" crime, then maybe that presumption is changing.
9.11.2009 10:10am

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