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Understanding Hate Crime

Understanding Hate/Bias Crime & Incidents



Definitions

What is a hate crime? The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police adopted this definition:

A crime motivated by hate, not vulnerability, where the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor.

 

Alternatively, The Canadian Center of Justice Statistics has proposed that the national definition for Canada be:

Hate crime is a criminal violation motivated by hate, based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor (Canadian Center of Justice Statistics).

 

However, police services are not bound to use these definitions and many have adopted other definitions that better reflect their understanding of the issue or local realities. Examples include the following:

 

    A criminal offence committed against a person or property that is based solely upon the victim’s race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability (Metropolitan Toronto Police Service)

    A criminal offence committed against a person or property, the motive for which is based in whole or in part upon the victim’s race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, disability or sexual orientation (Halifax Police Service).

    An offence committed against a person or property which is motivated in whole or in part by the suspects’ hate, prejudice or bias against an identifiable group based on real or perceived race, national or ethnic origin, language, color, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor. (Edmonton Police Service).

    A criminal offence committed against a person or property which is motivated by the suspect/offender’s hate/bias against a racial, religious, ethnic, sexual orientation or disability group (Ottawa-Carlton Regional Police Service)

    Hate crime is "a criminal offence motivated by hate, prejudice or bias based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor. Hate activity is "an act or attempted act where the offender’s bias or prejudice against any identifiable group of people is a factor in determining who is victimized. The actions may be directed at people, property or public order. The actions do not meet the necessary elements required to prove a crime.” (Calgary Police Service)

In Canada, a major contributing factor to the lack of quantifiable nation-wide statistics on the prevalence of hate crime has been the absence of a uniform definition. The United States has had a formal working definition that guides its Hate Crime Statistics Act since 1990.

 

The Alberta Hate Crime Committee advocates for the adoption of a uniform definition for the province of Alberta that incorporates two key concepts not in the national definition. These are the concepts of “in whole or in part” to address crimes which are not solely hate crimes, but in which hate motivation plays a role. It also adopts the language ‘based on real or perceived membership in a group as a number of hate crimes are perpetrated against people presumed to be a member of the target group, e.g., a straight male who is the victim of gay-bashing. The resulting definition is the one currently in use by the Edmonton Police Service: 

An offence committed against a person or property which is motivated in whole or in part by the suspects’ hate, prejudice or bias against an identifiable group based on real, or perceived race, national or ethnic origin, language, color, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor.

While no national definition is available, Canada does have an effective body of hate crime legislation.

The Canadian anti-hate laws in the Criminal Code are the result of years of debate concerning the balance between individual and group rights. By and large, in Canada, those criminal offenses which concern hate propaganda are well drafted and catch the most serious types of hate propaganda, while giving deference to freedom of expression. The premise underlying Canada's anti-hate laws is that in a democratic society, identifiable groups must be protected against racism, including its verbal manifestations, in order not to limit their basic freedoms and thereby their full participation in Canadian society. This notion is not only consistent with Canada's international obligations, but is based on a vision of society which is also at the basis of the concept of multiculturalism, is entrenched in the Canadian Bill of Rights (1960), and is articulated clearly in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982).


What is the difference between hate crime, racism and discrimination?

 

Racism- is the system of beliefs or ideology that assumes there is a link between inherited physical traits and social or psychological (including personality and intellectual) traits. In common usage, racism is used synonymously with discrimination or prejudice, but a more specific definition notes the importance of power in racism. It is discrimination backed by institutional power.

 

Discrimination - is the conscious or unconscious act of treating a person or group on the basis of prejudiced attitudes and beliefs rather than on the basis of individual merit. This is not an attitude but an act of behaviour which may take the form of verbal abuse, graffiti, jokes, slurs and physical assault.

 

Systemic Discrimination-Social and organizational structures, including policy and practices, which intentionally or unintentionally exclude, limit and/or discriminate against individuals not part of the traditional dominant group. Often used synonymously with racism.

 

All hate crimes are acts of discrimination, but not all acts of discrimination are considered criminal acts, e.g., racial slurs, jokes, etc. Racism can underlie a hate crime, but hate crimes can be enacted by those who discriminate beyond race and include other vulnerable target groups as noted above.


Resources for Understanding Hate Crime

 

History and Government Policy

For more information on the history of hate crime legislation in Canada, see the Nizkor Project at http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/people/m/mock-karen/countering-hate.html.

For a brief history of hate groups in Canada, See http://www.crr.ca/divers-files/en/pub/faSh/ePubFaSh FacHate Can.pdf

 

Legislation – Criminal Code Provisions

Media Watch summary- http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/ resources/legislation/canadianlaw/federal/criminal_code/criminal_code_hate.cfm

Hate Crime Legislation in Canada video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2iDojfrGNE

 

Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

An overview of 7 caseshttp://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/10/12/f-free-speech-hate-crimes.html

 

MP900400175[1].JPGCase Examples

Some notable Canadian hate crime cases are available at http://criminologyandjustice.uoit.ca/hatecrime/cases.html.

A hate crime caught on video in Courtney, B.C. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qYEFDjHOgk

In 2011, February of this year in Nova Scotia, two young brothers (Justin Rehberg and Nathan Rehberg) were the first convicted in Canadian history for burning a cross on the yard of a bi-racial, black family.http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/ 2011 /01/11/ns-justin-rehberg-sentencing.html.

See http://keepcourtenaysafe.blogspot.com/for documentary

Examples of hate incidents: 

 

  • Bullying motivated by hate, bias or prejudice
  • Saying racial or homophobic slurs or name-calling
  • Distribution of prejudicial material promoting hate such as hate flyers
  • Racist or offensive emails, jokes or other prejudicial actions
  •  

    Signs and Symbols of Hate

    http://www.adl.org/hate_symbols/default.asp.

    ·      Some Canadian hate groups and symbols can be found at http://www.stopracism.ca/content/3-warning-signs-racist-symbols-and-dates-0.

    ·      Hatred in the Hallways: Identifying Hate Symbols in Alberta Schools http://www.albertahatecrimes.ca/09/images/file/Documents/ Resources/Hatred%20in%20the%20Hallways%20-%20Identifying %20Hate%20Symbols%20in%20Alberta%20Schools.pdf

     

     

     

    MP900422604[1].JPG

    Statistics & fact Sheets

    ·         Every two years, Statistics Canada releases a report on police-reported hate crime in Canada. The most recent was released in 2011 and can be viewed at http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2011001/article/11469-eng.pdf.

    ·         The Alberta Hate Crime Committee released two reports on hate crime and activity in Alberta. These can be viewed on the AHCC website at http://www.albertahatecrimes.ca/

    ·         Many groups and police services have produced brochures or fact sheets on hate crimes. For an example, see http://www.hamiltonpolice.on.ca/NR/rdonlyres/14B7509A-DFC3-460B-943C-5470884A0521/0/hatecrimes.pdf

     

    Successful Prosecution:

     

    The Western Canada For Us (WCFU) hate groupstarted inEdmonton in 2003 led by Glenn Bahr. A website was developed and 101 members signed up. His headquarters was in the south side of Edmonton. After concluding that he was propagating hate and breaching section 319 (2) Wilful Promotion of Hatred, the EPS Hate Crimes Unit executed a search warrant at his residence and seized the computer. The day after, the website went down and Glenn Bahr fled to B.C. After an investigation the Attorney General endorsed the charges of Wilful Promotion of Hatred and the EPS Hate Crimes Unit arrested Bahr in B.C. After a nine day preliminary inquiry he was committed to stand trial. Prior to the criminal trial the EPS hate crimes investigator testified at the CHRC tribunal which found him guilty under Section 13 of the CHRA and levied a fine of $10.000.00. Due to the fine, the Alberta Justice Department did not pursue the criminal trial and stayed the charge of 319 (2) CCC. The WCFU has not been back.

    See also: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/sentenced+years+probation+part+racially+motivated+incident/5762851/story.html