bookmark_borderHate crime charges for painting over Black Lives Matter mural

A California couple have been charged with a hate crime after painting over a Black Lives Matter mural that had been painted on the street. Nicole Anderson and David Nelson could face up to a year in jail.

The police department in Martinez, CA, said in a statement: “The community spent a considerable amount of time putting the mural together only to have it painted over in a hateful and senseless manner.”

When one considers the brutal series of assaults against statues that have taken place over the past weeks and months, which have largely gone unpunished, it is ridiculous that Anderson and Nelson are being punished this severely.

First of all, the motivation for painting over the mural does not rise to the level of a hate crime. In a video of the incident, Nelson allegedly said, “There is no racism. It’s a leftist lie… We’re sick of this narrative, that’s what’s wrong. The narrative of police brutality, the narrative of oppression, the narrative of racism. It’s a lie.” Neither he nor Anderson ever voiced any racist sentiments. Neither of them made any negative generalizations about anyone based on their race. They simply think that racism does not exist to the extent that the Black Lives Matter movement claims it does, which is a very reasonable opinion that I happen to agree with. Disagreeing with the message of the Black Lives Matter movement should not be considered a hate crime.

Additionally, I would not describe painting over the mural as either hateful or senseless, as the police department does. Disagreeing with a message is not hateful; it is simply disagreement. Nor was painting over the mural senseless; Nelson clearly explains the reasoning behind this action in the video.

You know what is both hateful and senseless? The wave of violence against statues that has swept over the country. It was hateful and senseless when someone beheaded the beautiful statue of Christopher Columbus in Boston. It was hateful and senseless when someone tore down the statue of St. Junipero Serra in San Francisco, California, set it on fire, and struck it with a sledgehammer. It was hateful and senseless when someone tore down and hanged a statue of a Confederate soldier in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was hateful and senseless when a mob tore down, urinated on, and sprayed graffiti on a statue of Confederate General Williams Carter Wickham in Richmond, Virginia. It is hateful and senseless that the magnificent Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond continues to be graffiti’d with Black Lives Matter slogans every day. I could go on and on; the list of statues that have recently been dismembered, set on fire, destroyed, and/or defaced is nearly endless.

Think of the immense amounts of time, effort, dedication, and talent that sculptors put into these statues. Yet none of the people responsible for any of these acts of vandalism have been arrested, charged, fined, or punished in any way. These barbarians all need to be held accountable for their disgraceful actions before anyone even thinks about punishing someone for painting over a Black Lives Matter mural on the street.

bookmark_borderMayor freaks out about “nooses,” finds out they were actually swings

In Oakland, CA police found five ropes hanging from trees in a city park. Mayor Libby Schaaf denounced this as an act of racism and announced that a hate crimes investigation was underway.

The only problem: the ropes were not nooses at all. They were swings that a local man set up to use for fun and exercise. Victor Sengbe, who happens to be black, explained: “Out of the dozen and hundreds and thousands of people that walked by, no one has thought that it looked anywhere close to a noose. Folks have used it for exercise. It was really a fun addition to the park that we tried to create. It’s unfortunate that a genuine gesture of just wanting to have a good time got misinterpreted into something so heinous.”

That’s for sure.

But bizarrely, city officials don’t seem to care. Schaaf said that people must “start with the assumption that these are hate crimes.” She continued: “Intentions don’t matter when it comes to terrorizing the public. It is incumbent on all of us to know the actual history of racial violence, of terrorism, that a noose represents and that we as a city must remove these terrorizing symbols from the public view.”

Director of parks and recreation Nicholas Williams added, “The symbolism of the rope hanging in the tree is malicious regardless of intent. It’s evil, and it symbolizes hatred.”

These are some of the dumbest sentiments I have ever heard.

First of all, to say that something is “malicious regardless of intent” is an oxymoron. The definition of “malicious” is “full of, characterized by, or showing malice; intentionally harmful; spiteful” or “vicious, wanton, or mischievous in motivation or purpose.” In other words, it is the intention that determines whether or not an action is malicious.

Additionally, to start with the assumption that the ropes are hate crimes is just wrong. A central tenet of the American legal system is that people are presumed innocent unless proven guilty. And logically, if something could have either an evil or an innocuous explanation, one should assume the innocuous explanation. Why automatically assume the worst of your fellow human beings?

To describe rope swings as “terrorizing symbols” and to claim that they “terrorize the public” is preposterous. How could someone be terrorized by some ropes hanging from trees? Contrary to the claims of Schaaf and Williams, intentions do matter. The ropes were not nooses. They were swings. Swings are not evil. Swings do not symbolize hatred.

If you are terrorized by swings, that is your problem. Removing the swings, as the city did, is unfair to Sengbe and all the other Oakland residents who enjoyed them. The mayor and city government owe their citizens an apology for their ridiculous overreaction.

bookmark_borderMississippi church burned down in horrendous hate crime

In a despicable act, someone burned down the First Pentecostal Church in Holly Springs, Mississippi.

The church had sued the city government over its stay-at-home order which banned in-person services, and pastor Jerry Waldrop reportedly clashed with city officials at a demonstration at a local Walmart. The city had shut down a Bible study group at the church and cited Waldrop for holding an Easter mass.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, the words “Bet you stay home now you hypokrits” were spray-painted on the ground at the scene of the fire, along with an A inside an atomic symbol, a logo for atheism.

To his credit, the President of American Atheists, Nick Fish, called the arson a “heinous act of destruction.”

Clearly, the motivation of the arsonist was to target the church for standing up to the government’s COVID-19 restrictions. In other words, the arsonist committed his/her crime out of support for these authoritarian policies and out of a desire to punish those who fight back against them. This places this act of arson in the very worst category of crimes: members of the majority aggressing against an unpopular minority. This should be treated as a hate crime, and the perpetrator should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.