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Understanding Hate Crimes Part II

Understanding Hate Crimes Part II

Previously, we discussed the definition of hate crimes and statics regarding the prevalence of hate crimes in the United States. We also discussed the importance of reporting actual crimes and the harm caused by false accusations.

For the remainder of this series, we will review the history of hate crimes in America and the criminal penalties for those convicted. Keep reading to learn more.


Hate crimes have been prevalent in human society for millennia, but their impact on American society is extensive. Throughout the history of the United States, human rights issues have been at the center of progress from the beginning.

Settlers destroyed Native American tribes, the government sent Japanese immigrants to internment camps while attempting to end the holocaust in Europe, and black and African American people have been subjugated under literal slavery or poverty.

These historical periods were impactful to national history but hate crimes on a granular scale were not public information outside of the communities in which they occurred until print and visual media became nationalized.

Civil Rights Movement

One of the most horrific hate crimes prior to the Civil Rights Movement was the murder of 14 year old Emmett Till. Till was accused of flirting with a local white woman named Carolyn Bryant. Bryant’s husband and half-brother tracked till down to his uncle’s house where he was staying at the time. The two men dragged him from his bed and proceeded to bludgeon the boy until he was nearly unrecognizable. After dragging his body, they threw his body into the Tallahatchie River with a weight around his neck.

Till’s mother refused to hold a closed casket funeral and allowed journalists to photograph her son at the funeral. His body was on the cover of Jet magazine within the week causing outrage and igniting a social movement.

The assassination of pastor and activist Martin Luther King, Jr. and political activist Malcom X pushed the movement into overdrive and drove the country to establishing the Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, sex, and national origin. This among other grassroots efforts also helped to establish a framework for prosecuting hate crimes in the United States.

The 90s

The 1990s were a particularly incendiary period in American history. The catalyst was the police beating of a man named Rodney King. The violence committed against him started the L.A. Riots also known as the Rodney King Riots in 1991. The riots raged on for months and led to the burning of businesses and the revelation that the L.A. police department had committed similar hate crimes since its establishment.

Black Lives Matter

In 2020, the murder of George Floyd in police custody ignited a nationwide protest against police brutality, hate crimes, and racial prejudice. George Floyd was one of many casualties between 2020 and 2022. Breonna Taylor, Latoya Denise James, Ahmaud Arbrey, and countless others were brutally killed either by police or others. Stanford University Library has an exhaustive list of all the casualties of hate crimes in the last three years.

Asian Hate

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes began perpetuating hateful speech against Asian Americans and blamed them publicly for the mass death and high hospitalization rate. Asian-run businesses, and individuals become targets of vandalism, arson, and violence.

Criminal Penalties in Nevada

In Nevada, hate crimes are charged as sentencing enhancements if other crimes are involved. In other words, if the crime is murder, a hate crime can enhance the sentence resulting in a harsher penalty. Hate crimes independent of other criminal acts are gross misdemeanors punishable by up to 364 days in jail and fines of up to $2,000.

Legal Representation You Can Count On

As mentioned in the first part of this blog, wrongful accusations are harmful to the accused and actual victims. Scarce resources available for criminal investigations could be diverted away from real cases. If you believe you may have been wrongfully accused, you may have a legal case.

Contact The Draskovich Law Group for more information.


Contact The Draskovich Law Group

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