A prejudice is a personal bias against an individual. While everybody has a freedom of expression, when a prejudice leads to a criminal activity, it becomes a legally defined as a hate crime. It is of significance to differentiate a hate crime from other criminal activities due to the fact a hate crime has a life of its own as it intends to create fear among those facing prejudice.
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Hate crime is a criminal activity, with a prejudice motivation. Prejudice exists between race, class, disability and sex orientation among other forms. Hate crime operates along these conflict lines. Hate crimes are criminal offence inspired by existing (In the Shadows of The War on Terror: Persistent Police Brutality And Abuse Of People of Colour In The United States 2007).
Police brutality in the USA is historical from brutality against Native Americans slaves, black racism and recently, Muslim profiling. The racial profiling and abuse at the police force has been at the heart of killings of minorities in America. With the police force behind its officers in face of police brutality, police involved in hate crime cases face reduced sentences and mostly get their jobs back after cases brought against them (Community Relations Service U.S. Department of Justice 1999).
Hate crimes must meet some prerequisites in order to be classified as such. The first prerequisite is that the hate crime is a criminal activity, which has a legal recognition as a criminal activity. Secondly, it should have a prejudice motivation. The murder of Jonny Gammage, a Black-American, at the hands of police did satisfy these prerequisites (Levinand and McDevit 2008).
Jonny Gammage, on October 12, 1995, was driving irresponsibly leading to police pulling him over. What had been a normal arrest for driving haphazardly took a turn for the worse when he died for resisting arrest. The events on that given day, took place as follows. After Jonny came to a halt, the arresting police gave an instruction to alight the car he was driving, a Jaguar Sedan. Although resisting, he did as asked and alighted with a phone in hand.
The police had a mistaken assumption that the phone was a gun and with aggression, they pounced on him. It is at this moment that he turned violent; therefore, to arrest him, police retaliated with excessive force among them, John Voltas who was the first to hit him. After they were unable to restrain him on the pavement, Voltas along with fellow police officers continued attacking him.
This was the view of the police of the occurrence of events on the fateful day, but it is far from the truth. Jonny drove a Jaguar Sedan, by any means a reasonably expensive car. What was unexpected, was a driver of such a car slowing as they approached a police car on standby at the roadside and accelerating thereafter.
It was suspicious, which prompted the police officer to follow the car. Lieutenant Milton Mullholland requested back up of John Voltas. Jonny was instructed to exit the car, which he did and the items he was holding fell after being hit by a torchlight. Jonny hit the torchlight, which Voltas responded by with help of Mullholland to wrestle him to the ground. He was sat on as he was being hit by torchlight after 7 minutes he was dead (CNN 1996).
The four arresting police were all white. The court jury that participated in the acquitting charges of manslaughter by Voltas and his team was all white. Voltas eventually got back from his suspension to go back to his job. The violence meted against Jonny Gammage when it went to court in 1996, the Brentwood police force was fully behind their fellow police officers.
The police force was at trial and the evaluation of facts impartially was out of question. It was, after all, outstanding police officers who just had a slight blot in their career; which they would learn from (John Volta’s words). The African American Coalition of Justice was at hand with fellow African Americans in protesting the verdict during the trial but to no avail.
Levinand, J., & Mcdevitt, J. (2008). Hate crime. Waltham, Massachusetts: Academic Press.
CNN. (1996). White Officer Acquitted in Death of Black Motorist. Web.
Community Relations Service U.S. Department of Justice. (1999). Police Use of Excessive force. Web.