In a rare move, a state filed hate crime charges, in a case involving two White thugs who assaulted a Black victim. Although bias crimes are on the rise, proving that an assault was racially motivated is often a challenge for prosecutors.
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills announced Tuesday that her office filed a hate crime complaint against two men who allegedly assaulted a 34-year-old African-American man in April outside a convenience store, the Bangor Daily News reported.
“All Mainers should be shocked by this brutal race-based assault,” Mills stated. “No person should be afraid to walk to a store for fear of being attacked due to the color of his or her skin. We filed this action to protect not simply this victim but any person of color who might be targeted by these defendants,” Mills stated.
Hate crimes in major cities skyrocketed by nearly 20 percent in 2017, according to police data compiled by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino. In fact, the number of hate crimes have climbed steadily over the past few years. Yet, few of those cases come before a jury.
Federal prosecutors brought just 13 percent of hate crimes to trial between 2010 and 2015, according to Mother Jones. At the state level, approximately 4 percent of alleged hate crimes in 2013 ended in an arrest. A major obstacle is proving that race was the motive for attacks.
Mills doesn’t have that problem. The two men, Dusty Leo, 27, and Maurice Diggins, 34, repeatedly used a racial slur toward the victim as he walked to a 7-Eleven store near his home, in what the prosecutor allege was a random assault. Leo punched the victim in the face, breaking his jaw, and Diggins hit him in the back of his head. The two White men chased the victim with their truck when he ran away.
The prosecutor filed a civil action under the Maine Civil Rights Act, which prohibits the use of violence or the threat of violence based on a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation or country of origin. Leo and Diggins also face criminal aggravated assault charges.