The Council on American-Islamic Relations is upset hate crime charges were not brought against a student following a mid-December scuffle at an Allegheny County, Pennsylvania high school.
The fight at Chartiers Valley High School did lead to charges of aggravated assault, harassment, and disorderly conduct after video appears to show the student punching a Muslim peer; however, CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper says this is insufficient.
“We wonder why this woman singled out this other woman to attack,” Hooper told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. We so many times in the past have seen the headscarf as a reason for an attack.” Local police say there’s no evidence to support additional charges of ethnic intimidation.
Hooper added that “it’s rare that assailants will explicitly tell victims that they’re under attack for their perceived faith or ethnicity. It’s the context that matters.”
He called on state and federal officials to investigate the matter further.
Collier police Chief Craig Campbell said in a statement that “the school resource officer met several times with the victim, her family, a representative of [CAIR] and their attorney to ensure that the victim’s needs were being met and that the investigation was thorough and transparent.”
Chief Campbell said investigators consulted with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office and determined the evidence would not support a charge of ethnic intimidation, meaning the assault was not religiously or racially motivated. The school resource officer filed charges Friday of aggravated assault, harassment, disorderly conduct and a state wiretap violation.
Mr. Hooper said it’s not unusual that local police will discount a bias incident.
“They’re looking for a black-and-white incident, something concrete, and otherwise they say there is no evidence of a hate crime,” he said. “We go beyond that and see the underlying motivations.”
It’s worrisome enough when organizations like CAIR’s peer group the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee want the utterance of racial or ethnic slurs during the escalation of an otherwise non-racial fight (one which did not begin with a clear motivation of bias) to be classified as hate crimes. It’s worse when groups want hate crimes charges brought based on someone’s (like Hooper’s) perception … not to mention unrelated, albeit similar, occurrences which took place elsewhere in the country.
The logical endgame of such a standard is that hate crime charges should be brought for any fracas involving individuals of different races or ethnicities.
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