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March 4

On this date in 2004 the U.S. Justice Department announced a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that reversed a lower court’s minimal sentencing of Robert May who was found guilty of burning a cross on the lawn of a biracial couple in Gastonia, North Carolina in 1999, with the intention of having the couple move from the neighborhood. In United States v. May, the Court of Appeals unanimously reversed the sentencing of May by the lower court which did not follow sentencing guidelines; the guidelines called for a sentence between 18 and 24 months in prison, but the lower court gave May time served. In its rationale for the paltry sentence, the lower court said May had been provoked into the cross burning and that May had accepted responsibility for his actions despite May’s denial of the facts underlying his guilty plea at his sentencing (he also lied about his ongoing drug use); the Court of Appeals disagreed.

In Hamburg Township, Michigan, on this date in 2007, a Puerto Rican woman and her 12-year-old son came home to find their house had been severely vandalized and money stolen. Racist graffiti which read "Go Nigger" was spray-painted inside their Livingston County home, mattresses were ripped with knives, and curtains, clothing, and other items were spray-painted. The woman, who asked reporters not to use her name for safety reasons, said that the March 4, 2007, incident, was the third time she has been the target of a crime in this community which is over 97% white.

At the Janesville Parker High School in Janesville, Wisconsin, on this date in 2010, a white student, David G. Warn III, 17, of Janesville, allegedly repeatedly used a racial slur directed at a black student, allegedly had another student print a copy of a noose to show the victim, and later that day allegedly asked the black student, "Have you picked the tree yet?" David Warn was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct as a hate crime, and he faced up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000, had he been convicted as charged. It is not uncommon for residents of nearly all-white towns to be charged with hate crimes (regardless of the bias motivation for the hate crime); and, at the time of Warn's arrest, Janesville was a town made up of 95.27% white people and only 1.26% blacks. In late January 2011, the charge was dismissed but it was read into the court record.

In the afternoon hours in Elk Grove (Sacramento County), California on this date in 2011, two elderly Sikh men, Surinder Singh, 67, a truck driver who had only lived in the United States for five years and his friend Gurmej Atwal, 78, a retired civil servant, a married father of four and a grandfather of ten from Punjab, India, were shot by someone in a tan or beige Ford F150 pickup truck made between 1999 and 2003 in what police believe was likely a hate crime. Police believe the men could have been mistaken as being Muslim or Arab because of the visible turbans they wore (Sikhs often are mistaken for Muslims by the uninformed). The shooting is being investigated with the help of the FBI as a possible hate crime. Surinder Singh died at the scene as a result of the unprovoked attack, and Mr. Atwal was in critical condition following the shooting that took place as the men were walking on East Stockton Boulevard near Geneva Pointe Drive in their neighborhood. Mr. Atwal, who had been on a ventilator and unable to talk for most of the time he had been in the hospital, died in the afternoon on April 15, 2011. Gurmej Atwal's funeral service took place on April 23, 2011. If you have any information about this crime, please call Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357 or the Elk Grove Police Department at (916) 714-5115. A reward is being offered.

In Denver, Colorado on this date in 2013, a white man, Franklin Glenn Sain, 42 (Date of Birth: October 27, 1970), of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was arraigned on charges of attempting to influence a public servant and harassment-ethnic intimidation (a hate crime) for allegedly sending threatening emails, letters and a voicemail message directed at a black Democratic state representative, Rhonda Fields, of Aurora, Colorado. In the arrest warrant for Franklin Sain, police allege he called his victim a "fucking cunt," a "whore" and referred to her and President Obama by repeatedly using a racist slur (the N-word), because of Ms. Fields' support of stricter gun control laws in Colorado. Sain—who at the time of his arrest was the chief operating officer for SofTec Solutions Inc., based in Englewood, Colorado—also allegedly sent Ms. Fields—whose son was shot and killed in 2005 before he was able to testify against a gang member—a letter stating "There will be blood" and expressing his wish that someone would "Gifords" her, a misspelled reference to the near-fatal gunshot-wounding of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Police also said Sain admitted to sending Ms. Fields six e-mails filled with profanity and sexual and racial slus and left similar voicemail messages to her between February 13 and February 15, 2013. Following his February 22, 2013 arrest, SofTec Solutions Inc. suspended Franklin G. Sain, pending a company investigation. On March 8, 2013, Sain was fired from his job. He has a preliminary hearing scheduled for March 27, 2013.

On this date in 2013 in Oberlin, Ohio, classes were cancelled for the day at Oberlin College following a rash of anti-black, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT incidents on the campus. Swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti were discovered on the campus at the beginning and end of February 2013. Racist and homophobic graffiti also was discovered in early February. Then on March 1, 2013, someone was seen wearing a Ku Klux Klan costume on campus near the Afrikan Heritage House residence hall. Following that incident, FBI’s Cleveland office opened an investigation into possible civil rights violations at Oberlin College.


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