Several states have hate crimes laws, but specific statutes are not always used in race-related cases in many places. Ethnic intimidation — the legal term used to describe menacing or harassment acts based on a person’s race, religion or national origin — is generally hard to prove. Why?
Authorities have to show a person’s intents or motives were malicious in nature, The Morning Call, a Pennsylvania news outlet, reported. In other words, a judge or jury has to be convinced that there was some form or pattern of “hate” that motivated an action or crime.
Several of these intimidation cases also involve African-Americans being targeted, with incidents being examined by a criminal justice system that has historically been biased against people of color. Questions about privilege have been linked to cases where white defendants have subjected Blacks to some form of violence because of race.
In those rare instances when an ethnic intimidation charge gets prosecuted, there is still a burden of proof. A Ohio woman was facing the charge after having allegedly spray-painted the words, “Hail Trump” and the N-word on a home, the Toledo Blade reported Monday.
Community members, who have since covered up the hateful grattifi, discovered it on Saturday. Patricia Edelen, 47, was arraigned in Toledo Municipal Court on misdemeanor charges of ethnic intimidation, criminal mischief, criminal damaging and obstructing official business. The ethnic intimidation charge “increased the severity” of the other misdemeanor offenses, as intimidation is viewed as a more serious crime, the Blade reported. Edelen is slated to have a hearing at a later date and remains held in jail.
Authorities will have to prove that Edelen committed the criminal mischief, damages and obstruction to intimidate a person or people based on their race.
Edelen could still face a few years in jail as other defendants have in some other ethnic intimidation cases in recent years. A judge sentenced Robert T. Kujawa, a 45-year-old white man, to two to four years in state prison for the charge in May after he viciously harassed and stalked a Black family for years in Pennsylvania.