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Embracing inclusion

Embracing inclusion

Embracing inclusion
August 29
15:26 2019

Jesus Sanchez Melean

 

Ryan Austin Lee, a 43-year old American was sentenced to 5 years in prison. The sentence represents one third of the total time his accuser Beth McCann, a Denver prosecutor, requested for Lee. However, the sentence has great significance. McCann explains that the evidence allowed the jury to find Lee guilty of hate crimes. This is the first sentence issued for a hate crime in Denver in the past decade.

According to the law, verbally expressing prejudice, issuing threats, and physical assault are all components of a hate crime. Victims of those conducts must be a part of a minority community. These communities might be classified by race, ethnicity, religion and sexual preference. Prosecuting these crimes is a tool to help bring peace and harmony in society in general. “Hate crimes are criminal expressions of intolerance that terrify an entire community,” explained McCann.

The stories exposed at the trial indicate that Lee’s actions had all the ingredients of a hate crime. According to the prosecution, Lee launched against a vehicle to hit one of its occupants. The other occupant of the vehicle was able to leave the vehicle but was then attacked by Lee. Authorities said Lee grabbed the second man by his neck, threw him on the ground and kicked him while yelling racist slurs. The victims were Hispanic, and the insults were targeted against Hispanics.

Lee committed this crime at the end of 2018. However, Lee was already facing charges for a similar crime he had committed in 2017. In that year, Lee yelled racial slurs against a mixed-race family, Lee chased the parents and the two children with a hammer in his hand. The four members of this family had to run in panic around Garfield Park until they found shelter. There were a lot of witnesses to this incident.

Lee’s behavior is not isolated. According to a Bias Hate Crimes report issued by the Denver Police Department (DPD), 14 per vent of hate crimes in the city, in 2019, have taken place against Hispanics. The percentage of hate crimes against Hispanics has remained above 14 per cent since 2015. In 2018, Hispanics were the target of 15.32 per cent of the total of hate crimes that took place in Denver. In another three months we will know if hate crimes against Hispanics this year will be higher than the 2018 numbers.

The trend of growth for hate crimes against Hispanics in Denver is a reality. But this is not an isolated phenomenon. A report by The Mountain States Against Hate Coalition indicates that hate crimes are prevalent in other cities in the metropolitan area, and around the whole state. This organization also indicated there has been an increase in crimes against Hispanics throughout the U.S. It could also be said this type of crime is on the rise worldwide.

Jason Marsden, Executive Director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, praised the initiative of the DPD to strictly log data on these crimes. For Marsden it is also valuable that DPD made the decision to publish this report. Divulging this information helps educate current and potential victims of these crimes. Numbers reveal that a bigger number of hate crimes is being reported, but it is not clear to what extent all hate incidents are being reported.

Education is key to fight this type of crime. The public must know how to read the signs and go to the authorities if they believe they have been targeted. Victims can also reach out to the Consulate of Mexico in Denver, as well as other Consulates, The Mountain States Against Hate Coalition and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for support on how to denounce a crime. But the community in general must try to heal the illness of racism, hate and intolerance.

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