Panel Discusses Hate Crimes, Solutions

By Amdt, Randy | Nation's Cities Weekly, March 15, 1999 | Go to article overview

Panel Discusses Hate Crimes, Solutions


Amdt, Randy, Nation's Cities Weekly


NLC leaders were, quite literally, the "Talk of the Nation" last week during a live one-hour interview about dealing with hate crimes, aired from the National Public Radio (NPR) studios in Washington.

Two NLC officers, Mayor Clarence Anthony and Mayor Dennis Archer were joined by Councilmember Tina Podlodowski of Seattle, a mohair of the International Network of Lesbian and Gay Officials for the discussion with Ray Suarez, host of "Talk of the Nation," NPR's daily program focusing on current national issues.

With the trial for a brutal racial murder in Texas just concluding and news of another brutal murder of a gay man in Alabama making headlines, Suarez and his guests talked about factors that make such crimes so different and reprehensible.

"Hate crimes attack the vitality of the entire community," said Mayor Anthony. "They are not just acts against an individual, but against the community as a whole."

Mayor Archer brought the dimension of purpose into the discussion. "The crime is intended to send a message," he said. "It is premeditated as opposed to an act of passion."

It is because of the threatening intent of hate crimes that laws must be written to identify them, Podlodowski noted. "If you don't count it as a hate crime, it disappears," she said.

Podlodowski, who chairs Seattle's Committee on Public Safety, Health and Technology, added that public agencies also need to be able recognize signs of hate-based behavior.

She said her city invests in public safety training to be able to recognize patterns of hate crime, and they invest in community services and organizations to promote prevention programs.

A teacher calling from the Kansas City area introduced one of the recurring issues of debate surrounding hate crimes, namely, that people may believe the actions of the victim are a factor.

"This is an old excuse of making it a problem of the victim," Archer replied. …

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