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police department were familiar with communities and areas vulnerable to backlash violence, conscious of the history of backlash violence and aware of the possibility that it might occur in the future. Police departments in other parts of the United States did not have this level of previous engagement with backlash issues before September 11. Their policing, therefore primarily consisted of responding to backlash crimes after they occurred.

ties... If there is anything government can do to prepare, that will be a big step.” Among the measures the center has discussed for possible incorporation into any rapid response plan are: 1) issuance of immediate public statements from government officials condemning discrimination immediately after an event that may trigger a backlash; 2) development of public service announcements urging tolerance before any backlash, which may be broadcast immediately in case of an emergency; 3) gathering intelligence on areas of the city especially vulnerable to backlash violence and creating a plan to rapidly deploy law enforcement officers in those areas in case of an emergency: nd 4) creating a "buddy program" which would gather volunteers from non-Muslim communities to travel with Muslims, especially women who wear the hijab, who are afraid to travel alone during a backlash period.

The measures discussed below detail some of the strategies police used to contain and investigate September 11-related backlash violence.

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Backlash Planning

Given the relative predictability and severity of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim backlash violence prior to September 11, activists and experts called for law enforcement agencies to create and coordinate “emergency plans” to mitigate any possible future backlash. Nevertheless, none of the law enforcement or officials in the major cities Human Rights Watch visited during the course of research Seattle, Phoenix, Chicago, New York or Los Angeles—had devised any written emergency plans to prepare for future backlash violence.

Police Deployment

Among the most helpful measures in preventing anti-Arab and anti-Muslim attacks after September 11 was the immediate deployment of police officers in areas with high concentrations of the vulnerable communities. Cities differed, however, in how quickly police were deployed to patrol vulnerable communities. These differences usually reflected the amount of interaction a police department had with the vulnerable communities prior to September 11.

In Portland, Maine, by contrast, the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence is working with city officials to create a “Rapid Response Plan" to mitigate backlash discrimination in case of any future terrorist act blamed on Arabs or Muslims. Stephen Wessler, executive director of the center and author of a report on September ll-related backlash violence against Muslims in Maine stated his fear that "if there is another terrorist attack, we will see a more intensified reaction towards the affected communi

The Dearborn Police Department was exemplary in its immediate deployment of police ofticers in sensitive areas of Dearborn immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks. According to community leaders, police were patrolling Arab neighborhoods and mosques by early afternoon on September 11, Police on foot stood in areas that could have been attacked and police cars patrolled Arab neighborhoods on September 11 and in the days afterwards. The presence of a specially appointed "Arab com

Human Rights Watch telephone interview with William Haddad, President, Arab Imerican Bar Association. June 17. 2002. Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Stephen Wessler, executive direcwr, Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence, August 27, 2002.

The pursuit for the creation of a "Rapid Response Plan"

Portland Maine comes from a recommendation contanned in a report published by the Center entitled, "After September 11: Under standing the impact on Muslim Cumaulius in Mane." retrieved on September 24. 2002, fron bup :www.cphy.usm.mainc.edu/ruport.doc.


Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Stephen Wessler, executive director, (enter for the Prevention of Hate Violence, August 7, 2002,

Human Rights Watch interview with Imad Hainad. Midwest

regional director American Lrab-IntiDiscrimination Committee. June 5, 2002.



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munity police officer” before September 11 also allowed police to gain important intelligence on areas in Dearborn vulnerable to attack. Arab community leaders stated that during the weeks after September 11 most members of the Arab community “felt safer in Dearborn” than outside it because of the increased and visible police presence in their communities. 182

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Initial Classification of Crimes

In some instances after September 11, the decisions of police officers not to classify crimes as possible hate crimes meant that no further investigation of possible bias motive was conducted. For example, Kripa Ubadhyay, program coordinator for the Anti-Discrimination and Hate Crimes Program of the South Asian Network (SAN), cited the case of two Bangladeshi Muslims who were held up at gun point while numerous ethnic epithets were yelled at them. For onths, there was no investigation of possible bias motivation for the crime because the responding officers chose to classify the matter as a robbery. Only after SAN directly appealed to the Los Angeles County's bias crime investiLator was the matter recorded and investigated as a possible hate crime.!Police departments in different cities had differing standards on the discretion available to responding police officers to classify a matter as a possible hate crime.


Although police departments in New York, Phoenix, and Los Angeles did not have strong pre-existing relationships with the Arab and Muslim community, after the September 11 attacks, these departments nonetheless dispatched police officers to protect primarily Muslim or Sikh places of worship and areas with high Arab, Muslim, Sikh, or South Asian concentrations. In Phoenix, the day after September 11, after consulting with concerned members of the Arab and Muslim communities. the police department established twenty-four hour patrols at area mosques.

The Phoenix Police Department's bias crime unit credited the department's Muslim community liaison for providing the department with information on the Muslim and Arab community in Phoenix gained through prior interaction with those communities before September 1 11. In Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations on September 11 notified the police department of vulnerable "hotspots,”, such as mosques and Arab-owned convenience stores. As a result, police were dispatched to protect some of these vulnerable areas. In New York City, Sikh community leaders reported that after a gurdwara was vandalized on September 11, police officers patrolled the area around the gurdwara by foot during the next week. New York City police also provided protective escorts for busloads of Sikhs traveling from Queens to Manhattan for a Sikh community vigil on September 15, 2001, in

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i New York, if a responding police officer believed that a hate crime might have occurred, he or she was to report this to the duty captain in the police precinct. If the duty captain also believed the crime to be bias-motivated, the matter was referred to the police department's Hate Crimes Task Force for investigation as a possible hate crime. Linda Wancel, head of the Civil Rights Bureau within the Brooklyn district attorney's office, stated that whether a matter was investigated by police as a possible hate crime was “contingent on the duty captain calling it a hate crime... We disagree sometimes with the duty captain not classifying cases as a possible a hate crime.





Human Rights Watch interview with Imad Hamad, Midwest regional director, Imerican Arab- AntiDiscrimination Committee. June 5, 2002, Hunan Rights Watch interview with Hassan aber, executive director, ACCESS. lune 4. 2002; Human Rights Watch interview with Daniel Saab. Dearbom community police officer, June 1, 2002. IR?

Ibid L83

Human Rights Watch interview with Sergeant Jerry Hi!l. Phoenix Police Department. August 8. 2002.


Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Prabhjot Singh, director, Sikh Coalition. August 16, 2002.

Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Knipa Ubadhay. Anu-Discrimination and Hate Crimes I'rogram Coordinator. South Asian Network, Tugust 21, 2002. 18:

Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Adil Almontaser, American Muslim Law Enforcement Officers Association, August 27, 2002. 1&Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Linda Wincel, Civil Rights Bureau, Brooklyn distrki allomey's Ollicc, August 26. 2002.



In Seattle, staff at the Office of Civil Rights expressed frustration that complaints they received about bias-motivated criminal acts did not appear in monthly hate crime reports produced by the police department. According to staff, the discretion responding police officers to not classity a crime as a possible hate crime, created the possibility that they would investigate many crimes as possible hate crimes despite evidence that they may have been so motivated.'

Many local police departments, however, did not have the resources or a sufficient biascrime caseload to justify training all officers on how to investigate bias crimes or to appoint a specialized bias crime investigator. In Maine, the attorney general's office attempted to address this problem by asking each law enforcement agency in Maine to appoint a "civil rights officer" to review all crime reports for bias motivation indicia. Any report that contains indications of bias is forwarded to the attorney general's office for further review and guidance. Thomas Harnett, a prosecutor in the attorney general's office, stated that this system allows the office to assist local law enforcement agencies with bias crime investigations and also provides a layer of review for their work. In the aftermath of September 11, this system was used to refer September 11-related bias incidents to the Maine attorney general's office for review and consultation on further action.


The Phoenix Police Department, on the other hand, required responding officers to indicate on a police report whether either the victim or the responding officer believed bias motivated the crime. Where any such belief that a bias crime may have occurred existed, no matter how seemingly inconsequential to the responding officer, the responding officer police report was forwarded to the Phoenix Bias Crime Detail, where officers specially trained to investigate hate crimes determined whether there was any bias motivation for the crime.


After September 11, 2001, prosecutors across the country acted conscientiously to use their authority to bring hate crime perpetrators to justice. Numerous state attorneys general and county prosecutors issued statements condemning anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate crimes, visited affected communities, encouraged them to report hate crimes to authorities and vowed to prosecute them vigorously. During our research, Human Rights Watch found that prosecutors were proceeding actively on serious hate crimes that had occurred in their jurisdiction.

Hate Crime Units and Institutional
Support for Hate Crimes Training

Police departments in all of the cities Human Rights Watch researched stated that they trained their officers on the basic elements of a hate crime. With the exception of Dearborn, Michigan, they also all have at least one officer who investigates bias crimes exclusively. In the Seattle, Phoenix, Chicago and New York police departments, a bias crime unit officer is responsible for investigating any incident where evidence exists that a bias motive was present. The utility of this protocol for investigating bias crimes, according to Sergeant Jerry Hill. of the Phoenix Police Department's Bias Crime Detail, is that it "ensures someone with expertise on hate crimes is investigating the matter. It takes pressure off the responding officer to make the call on whether this was a hate crime." **


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Human Rights Watch interview with Julie Pate, Seattle Office of Civil Rights. July 31, 2002.

Human Rights Watch interview with Sergeant Jerry Hil Phocaux Police Department, August 8, 2002.


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than the number of September 11-related hate crimes reported. But the proportion of September 11-related crimes that have been the subject of indictment and trial does not appear to vary significantly from the usual rates of indictment and trial for other types of crime. Many variables influence prosecution rates—including the ability of the police to identify a suspect, the quality of the evidence developed against him or her, the seriousness of the crime, and available prosecutorial resources. While our research did not uncover any instances of prosecutorial reluctance to take hate crimes seriously, some community activists expressed concern to us that prosecutors were placing insufficient priority on hate crime prosecutions.

Publicizing Prosecutions

September 11-related hate crime prosecutions did not only secure justice for particular victims. They also communicated society's repudiation of the crimes. Prosecution of September 11-related crimes conveyed the message that violent bigotry against Arabs and Muslims was not condoned and that law enforcement took seriously their obligation to protect all members of society and to bring those who committed crimes to justice.

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According to Thomas Harnett, a prosecutor in the Maine attorney general's office, hate crime perpetrators "believe that their actions have community support." Publicizing prosecutions communicates the error of this belief to potential hate crime perpetrators as well as to the community at large. Indeed, according to Harnett, “one of the reasons we publicized (September 11-related) cases and successful enforcement actions was to instill in the community the belief that these incidents should be reported and when they are reported, victims are safer not more at risk Deepa Iyer of the South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow concurred that publicizing prosecutions lets affected community members know that the government is committed to protecting them and encourages victims to report hate crimes against them,



Not all post-September 11 bias crimes were prosecuted as hate crimes under state or federal hate crimes legislation. For example, of the twelve September 11-related crimes prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department, only half were charged under the federal hate crimes statute. Prosecuting a crime as a hate crime places an additional evidentiary burden on the prosecutor to prove in court not only the regular elements of the crime, but the existence of bias motivation as well. Proof of such bias was difficult to demonstrate unless the defendant confessed his mo



In Los Angeles and Phoenix, the district attomeys held press conferences and issued press releases announcing prominent September 11related prosecutions.

In Seattle, the Kings County prosecutor's office issued press releases on September 1l-related prominent prosecu

Human Right Watch interview with Neera Wadsh, prosautor. Cook County prosecutor's oflice Bias Crime Unit. June 18. 2002.

Human Rights Watch interview with Bill Fitzgerald, public relations officer. Mancopa County district attomey ottice. August 3. 2002. 1** Human Rights Watch interview with Genna Gent and Daniel Levy: prosecutors, Michigan Allomey General's Hate Cruc, Prosecution Team, June 3, 2002.



Human Rights Watch e-mail correspondence with Thomas Harnett, Iugust 26, 2002 1* Human Rights Watch lelephone interview with Deepa lyer. February 26, 2002.


Ai the federal level, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice is. sued press releases on mo: of its twelve September 11-related prosecutions. The Civil Rights Division, however, did not hold any press conferences to publicize its prosecutions, even though some community groups thought press conferences would secure greater coverage. The Civil Rights Division nevertheless spread notice of its prosecutions by directly informing Arab. Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian community leaders and by sending the news to community e-mail lists. Although these cominunications did not reach the broader American public, they at least informed the affected communities that the federal government was working to punish bias crime perpetrators. The Civil Rights Division also publicized most of the prosecutions on its website, although the website was not always up to date.


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