SPECIAL SERIES : CAMPUS RACE RELATIONS
Fake hate crimes not new
Colleges experiance recent rash of bogus hate incidents
November 20, 2003 1:06 PM
Leah Miller and Allison Jackson are not the first to have faked a hate crime in order to bring awareness to racism on campus.
SF State and the District Attorney’s office chose not to file any complaints of vandalism, filing a false report and tampering with evidence against the two students, instead letting the housing disciplinary and student judiciary process deal with the situation.
Miller, 18, told campus police that an unknown person slid a note under the door of her Mary Park Hall dorm room with the word “NIGG” written on it.
Jackson, 18, said “Black Bitches” was written on her Village at Centennial Square room door — possibly by her neighbor. After a police investigation, both Miller and Jackson confessed to police that they had written the words themselves.
In recent years, other campuses have experienced hate crime incidents later found to be fake.
In 2002, an Arizona State University student was charged on suspicion of faking anti-Muslim hate crimes because he was upset Muslims were being treated unfairly after the Sept. 11 attacks. He now faces trial for the charge of reporting a false crime and one year in jail if convicted.
In 2001, a gay student at the College of New Jersey confessed to sending death threats to himself and a gay student group. He was suspended from campus during the investigation and charged with a felony on suspicion of filing false police reports and harassment.
In 1998, members of Duke University’s Black Student Alliance claimed they did not do something they later admitted, a symbolic lynching. A black baby doll was found hanging from a tree where they were later supposed to hold a protest about the school’s inability to improve race relations on campus, and they tarred a bench to enhance support for their agenda. The group was ordered to pay clean-up costs.
Miller said she wrote the note herself because nothing was being done about an earlier incident involving one of her friends and a watermelon that was left outside her door with the words “triple-threat” written on the watermelon.
Director of Residential Life DJ Morales said in a previous [X]press article, that the situation was “fraught with misinformation.” The watermelon, which holds a negative connotation in relation to African-Americans, was passed around and left outside various rooms before ending up outside Miller’s friend’s door by mistake.
Hate crimes do occur on campuses including SF State.
The SF State Campus Security report cites 11 hate crimes reported on this campus between 2000 and 2002. Two of the crimes took place in the residence halls.
Sgt. Jennifer Schwartz said the crimes reported were “other hate crimes.”
“They are hate incidents. For example, speech written on a wall in a bathroom not directed at any particular person or an anonymous letter written that contains hate speech,” said Schwartz.
SF State’s Department of Public Safety defines a hate crime: “Any act of intimidation, harassment, physical force directed against any person or family, or their property or advocate, motivated either in whole or in part by hostility to their ethnicity, race, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability or political/religious beliefs with the intention of causing fear or intimidation or to deter the free exercise or enjoyment of any rights or privileges secure by the Constitution, the laws of the United States or the State of California.”
A series of incidents in the spring 2001 involving pro-Israel and pro-Palestine demonstrators prompted SF State to forward police reports to the district attorney for possible filing of formal complaints. The district attorney in that matter chose not to file any complaints because no specific laws were broken.
Although offensive statements were made to Jewish students and an Israeli flag was taken down, the flag was not defaced and the speech did not elicit an immediate reaction, which would make it a crime.
Alleged crimes included vandalism, interference with exercise of constitutional rights, damaging property, and disturbing the peace of the university.
Mark MacNamara from the District Attorney’s office could not comment on Miller and Jackson specific cases but said the reason for not pursuing a false report complaint has to do with the seriousness of the offense reported and the ambiguity of the law being broken.
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