ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive January 2011

Headlines 28 January, 2011

TWO CHARGED WITH GAY HATE CRIME (uk)

28/1/2011-Two men are due to appear in court charged with stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation in the first prosecution of its kind. Razwan Javed, 30, and Kabir Ahmed, 27, are accused of handing out a leaflet called The Death Penalty? outside a mosque in Derby, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said. The leaflet is understood to have called for homosexuals to be executed. The pair will appear at Derby Magistrates' Court today charged with stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation. CPS lawyer Sue Hemming said: "The charges relate to the distribution of a leaflet, The Death Penalty?, outside the Jamia Mosque in Derby in July 2010 and through letterboxes during the same month. "This is the first ever prosecution for this offence and it is the result of close working between the Crown Prosecution Service and Derbyshire Police."
© The Press Association

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27/1/2011- Zagreb County Court has reached the country’s first ever verdict in a case of a hate crime against homosexuals. Though the State Attorney’s Office had asked for unconditional imprisonment, the court sentenced the two defendants to 60 days of community service and six months of conditional imprisonment respectively for attacking two men in front of the popular Zagreb nightclub Sirup on November 1, 2010. The lawyer of the victims Ana Bandalo will seek compensation for damages. Marko Jurcic from the Centre for LGBT Equality (Centar za LGBT ravnopravnost) said that he hopes prosecutors will appeal the verdict in pursuit of a harsher punishment. "Although we regret that the defendants have not been given unconditional prison sentences, we hope that the verdict is a clear enough message to public and other homophobes and chauvinists that discrimination, hate crime and violent behaviour against LGBT persons is absolutely impermissible." The organization called on the country’s LGBT community to come forth with their experiences as the centre offers free legal representation and the law guarantees the protection of person's identity.
© The Croatian Times

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Headlines 21 January, 2011

DOWNTOWN BOMB LINKED TO HATE CRIMES (usa)

Police chief praises sergeants for keeping marchers from harm

20/1/2011- The hunt for the person who left the bomb targeting marchers in Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. parade will focus on two aspects: forensics and the region’s violent history with white supremacists. Frank Harrill, the special agent in charge of the Spokane office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, confirmed late Wednesday that two recent protests by white supremacists in Coeur d’Alene will be part of the effort to identify those responsible for leaving the bomb on the northeast corner of Washington Street and Main Avenue. “We will examine every avenue,” Harrill said. “We are reaching far and wide in terms of what we are looking at. That certainly will be one of them.”

Tony Stewart, a member of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, said neo-Nazis used signs on Friday to protest two Mexican restaurants and then about 15 neo-Nazis protested a human rights event on Monday. “Then we hear about the bomb in Spokane,” Stewart said. “There would be no question that since it was planted directly on the path of the Martin Luther King Jr. march, that it has to be connected to hate crimes. It was an attempt to injure and kill people because they were out there promoting the equality of human rights. The evidence is just too overwhelming.”

Harrill said the bomb discovered Monday in a Swiss Army brand backpack was sent Wednesday to the FBI lab in Quantico, Va. Investigators have not yet arrested anyone in connection with the bomb, which officials characterize as a thwarted attempt at domestic terrorism that could have caused multiple casualties. Sources who received security briefings on Tuesday described a sophisticated bomb that could have been detonated remotely. Harrill said he could not discuss whether investigators believe the person who left the backpack remained in the area. Investigators continue to seek anyone who took photographs or video in the area between 8 and 11 a.m. on Monday, he added.

While Harrill said he hopes to make a quick arrest, he added: “A lot of this is going to turn, in part, on results of the lab analysis. Even though we will get an expedited handling of the evidence, it sometimes takes days to complete,” he said. Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said her department’s Central Intelligence Unit has reported an increase in hate literature and other white supremacist activity over the past two years, “but nothing in the two weeks as a precursor to this event.” Stewart, too, said his organization has tracked a number of troubling events, even though the efforts don’t seem to be well funded and don’t have a central meeting point, such as the now-defunct Aryan Nations compound north of Hayden Lake.

In 2009, someone spread hate literature throughout North Idaho and Spokane Valley, Stewart said. There was a lull in activity, until the events last week, he said. “Now we have this re-emergence. Here we are facing something that is not to be taken lightly,” Stewart said. Stewart and others started their efforts to combat hate in 1981 after Richard Butler founded the Aryan Nations compound in 1973. Stewart said his organization tracked more than 100 felonies committed by hate groups in the area in the 1980s and ’90s, including eight murders, several bank robberies and other crimes intended to intimidate residents.

The crimes attributed to people linked to the Aryan Nations included several bombings in the mid-1980s, including those at the home of a Catholic priest, the federal courthouse in Coeur d’Alene and other locations, Stewart said. Then in 1996, three bombings linked to racists caused severe damage to a Planned Parenthood building, Spokane City Hall and the Spokane Valley office of The Spokesman-Review. Butler began holding annual marches in downtown Coeur d’Alene in the 1990s before Morris Dees, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, bankrupted Butler in a civil trial in 2000. Butler died in 2004 and much of the crime spree ended with him, Stewart said.

“I know a lot of people were hoping that we were past our most serious period,” Stewart said. “But it’s not over. It’s time for people to be very vigilant again.” Kirkpatrick also keyed on that word, vigilant, as she praised her employees who quickly identified the potential threat from the bomb. Although they were first identified as city employees, three workers from the Spokane Public Facilities District were credited with finding the backpack and alerting Spokane police. Their boss, Kevin Twohig, would not identify them. “I’m very proud of what they did and they will be appropriately acknowledged by the district,” Twohig said. Likewise, Kirkpatrick praised Sgts. Jason Hartman and Eric Olsen for their decisions to inform command staff and reroute the march. “We are trying to have a national conversation to learn to say, ‘See something, say something,’ ” she said. “I’d like to get all of our residents to put that phrase into their thinking. We don’t want to be a city paralyzed by fear, but we must be a community that is mindful.”

Olsen, who was managing the traffic around the MLK march, said Hartman called him at 9:37 a.m. Monday and told him about the backpack. Without enough time to determine what was inside, the sergeants decided to change the route of the march. “We always assume the worst,” Olsen said on Wednesday. “But when I found out it was a viable device, I was both scared and relieved. I was scared that someone would do that but relieved that it was resolved. I felt very fortunate … just from the chaos and devastation it would have caused.”

Spokane County Commissioner Al French commented on the near miss for the Spokane community. “It is appalling to think that a celebration to commemorate the life and work of Dr. King could have ended so tragically,” French said Wednesday in a news release. “We cannot allow such acts to go unanswered or unpunished.”  Commissioner Mark Richard spoke at the King event and only learned later of the potential threat to the hundreds of people – including children – in the parade. “If nothing else, this kind of violence shows us that we must continue Dr. King’s work for justice and peace,” he said.
© The Spokesman - Review

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ATTACKS ON MONTREAL JEWISH AREAS; SYNAGOGUES DAMAGED (Canada)

17/1/2011- Anti-Semitic vandals in Quebec went on a rampage Sunday and targeted four synagogues and a school, causing thousands of dollars in damage. The assault on Jewish properties “was not an isolated affair,” according to Rabbi Reuven Poupko, chairman of the local Jewish Community Security Coordinating Committee. The crimes were “an organized and systematic attack on Jewish institutional life,” he told the Montreal Gazette. “These are not just crimes against buildings. They’re crimes against a community.” Rabbi Poupko said that the Jewish community would not be intimidated and that Jewish life in the city will continue on a regular basis. Vandals threw rocks and broke windows at the synagogues and the Yavne Academy. Montreal police are investigating the rampage, which was carried out despite surveillance cameras that have been installed at several Jewish buildings. Windows have been smashed in the recent past, and a swastika was smeared on a synagogue last year. Quebec has a long history of anti-Semitism. Montreal is overwhelming French-speaking, and the Anglo population has been dwindling over the past three decades, especially since the “separatist” movement grew more than 30 years ago. South of the Canadian border, vandals spray painted a large swastika on a Connecticut synagogue last week, in what police said was a hate crime. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal visited the synagogue and said, “An act of hatred like this one is not a prank. [It is] a criminal action.”
© Arutz Sheva

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Headlines 14 January, 2011

EXTREME-RIGHT TEENS HELD FOR LATVIA JEWISH CEMETERY ATTACK

A skinhead group which may have planned additional racial crimes

13/1/2011- Latvian police said Thursday they had detained three extreme-right teenagers suspected of involvement in the vandalism of a Jewish cemetery in the Baltic state's capital Riga a month ago. "Together, they formed a skinhead group which may have planned additional racial crimes," Ints Kuzis, the head of the Riga regional state police department, told reporters. The trio, whose names were not released, are aged 19, 16 and 15. Only the 15-year-old is suspected of carrying out the December 8 attack in which 89 tombstones were desecrated with white-painted swastikas. The swastika, the symbol of Nazi-era Germany, is a favoured motif for today's far right. The other two suspects are believed to have been aware of the crime, police said. Kuzis said the trio spoke Russian among themselves, but did not elaborate. Around 40 percent of Latvia's 2.2 million people claim Russian as their native language. “Judging from the information we've obtained, their plans were huge," police spokeswoman Sigita Pildava told AFP after the press conference, but again declined to give details. Police said the trio had come to their attention last summer not only due to their racism, but also because of an overall hatred of religion. Investigators said they do not suspect them of involvement in an incident five days after the cemetery attack in which a monument to a Latvian labourer who saved dozens of Jews during World War II was also splattered with white paint. Latvian President Valdis Zatlers and other top-ranking officials condemned both attacks. The Jewish cemetery was also vandalized in September 2003, and five teenage perpetrators were sentenced to between six months and three years in prison. Around 85,000 Jews lived in Latvia before World War II, but 70,000 were murdered in the country by Nazi Germany and local collaborators or perished after being deported to camps elsewhere in Nazi-occupied Europe. Between 200 and 450 Jews survived the war in Latvia itself. Today, Latvia's Jewish community numbers fewer than 10,000.
© EJP News

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POWER OUTAGE AT CZECH COURT HALTS TRIAL OF ATTACK ON HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST BY NEO-NAZIS (Czech Rep.)

13/1/2011- Today a court in Most had to suspend its hearing into an attack on Czech human rights activist Ondøej Cakl by several neo-Nazis. The attack was committed on 17 November 2008 during an attempted pogrom against Roma residents of the Janov housing estate in the town of Litvínov. František Brávek, a 27-year-old neo-Nazi, has been charged as one of the attackers who brutally beat Cakl and destroyed his video camera. A verdict was not handed down today due to a power failure at the courthouse. On 5 January, the court acquitted another suspected assailant, Martin Loskot, of related charges. Several minutes after the trial commenced, the lights went out in the courtroom; after 10 minutes of interruption, the power could not be restored. "We had to halt the trial for technical reasons. The lights in the courtroom were gradually turning off and then there was no power at all," Judge Benno Eichler said. The trial has been postponed until May.

The judge only managed to hear testimony from Ondøej Cakl today. "While I was filming the crowd of 800, someone suddenly grabbed me from behind and slid down with me so that I flew sideways, and then all I could see were parts of the arms and legs that were striking me. I covered my head and did my best to get away. Luckily I succeeded," Cakl told the court. "Based on my memory of the scene of the crime, I am not able to identify the defendant as one of the attackers, but I am able to identify him on the basis of the photographs and video recordings made by the journalists who were present." "When I discovered that those who perpetrated the attack on Natálka had been captured on film standing next to the defendant during the march on Janov, I became concerned that they might commit a Molotov cocktail attack on our office or on my apartment . I concluded police would not be able to protect me, so I left the country," Cakl told the court.

Brávek, who is charged with rioting and could face a two-year sentence, refused to testify, referring the court to the statements he made in the preliminary hearing. After the trial was postponed, he told journalists he had not attacked Cakl, although he did admit to participating in the neo-Nazi march. "I participated in the march, but I was in the crowd. I did not see the incident described here until footage of it was released on the internet," Brávek said in response to journalists' questions. "The court should concern itself with more serious matters. That camera may have cost CZK 30 000 at the time, but today it probably only costs CZK 5 000," he added, trivializing the entire case.

Another defendant, Martin Loskot, was acquitted of all charges in the case by the court on 5 January. Loskot refused to testify in Brávek's case. Klára Kalibová, Cakl's attorney, has commissioned experts in biomechanics and biometrics to produce a professional evaluation of the evidence for the next phase of the trial. "This is a technical tool that facilitates the identification of those who perpetrate crimes," Kalibová told Czech Television. Petr Pánek of the state prosecutor's office in Most has confirmed that such evidence has not yet been considered. "However, it may be considered on appeal," he said.

Jiøí Straus, an expert witness in the field of biomechanics, says an attack of this sort cannot be ruled on without an expert evaluation. Experts are able to use visual images of an incident to precisely identify assailants. "A person's movements are relative and can be analyzed in very brief intervals to determine who was kicking and with what intensity," Straus told Czech Television.
© Romea

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POSSIBLE RISE IN ANTI-HISPANIC HATE CRIMES A CONCERN (usa)

11/1/2011- The president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition sounded the alarm about the social consequences of attempts to deny U.S. citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants. “The words of our elected representatives are often charged with hate and feelings of xenophobia, especially against Hispanics, which is putting this area of public opinion completely out of touch with reality,” Alex Nogales told Efe. “They blame us for things like unemployment, lack of security and economic problems,” the NHMC president said in an interview. “A lot of very serious studies exist that recount the valuable contributions that immigrants make to the economy, figures that clearly show the benefits of Hispanic labor, Latino businessmen and immigrants who join the army – they give so much to this country – but that information is hidden, ignored or distorted, and recently we have been demonized,” he said.

For Nogales, this particular moment is especially worrying because actions are being orchestrated on different fronts to marginalize the undocumented. He cited the push to modify the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, and the upcoming enactment in six states of anti-immigrant measures inspired by Arizona’s SB1070, which seeks to criminalize undocumented immigrants. “The latest study of hate crimes shows they increased by 40-percent between 2003 and 2007,” Nogales said. “These figures are now even higher, and if we don’t ease off on these anti-immigrant diatribes, the number of hate crimes will continue to rise.” During his 10 years as leader of the NHMC, the organization has presented more than 50 pleas asking the Federal Communications Commission to revoke the broadcasting licenses of radio and television outlets seen as engaging in hate speech.

Arguing in favor of greater diversity in the news, the NHMC is currently working with A.C. Nielsen Research Company to tackle the inadequate programming devoted to Latino subjects, while continuing to fight for greater diversity at ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC. The NHMC has also engaged the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center to carry out four projects related to hate crimes, two of which have already been completed. “The first determines the language that is used in hate speech, how to describe it, how to define this language, what words are used. The second study establishes the relationship between news anchors and reporters on different radio stations and TV channels, and the guests they have on their programs,” Nogales said. “In the course of the research, it became evident that some friends of these news anchors are members of racist organizations that present themselves as an organization out to protect the rule-of-law image of the United States, but their real motivation is basically xenophobic. It’s a group led by John Tanton and his American anti-immigrant movement,” he said.

Tanton, a Michigan opthalmologist, founded the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, a source frequently cited by anti-immigration firebrands such as former CNN host Lou Dobbs. “Our fear is that all these restrictive laws against Latino immigrants are adding fuel to the fire of hate speech, which can only lead to more hate crimes,” Nogales told Efe. “How can it be that so many Latinos are dying as a consequence of the attacks and violence against them. For us, all American society contributes to this because no action is being taken to stop such activities,” he said.
© The Latin American Herald Tribune

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MOSQUE IS TARGET OF MINDLESS VANDALISM (uk)

12/1/2011- A mosque was left with around a dozen windows damaged after it was targeted in a racially-motivated attack. Bennetts Ends Mosque at St Albans Hill, Hemel Hempstead, had windows smashed as a yob hit the outside of the building with a shovel on December 27.  Police were called to the incident at around 12.03am, after the vandal had entered the grounds of the mosque through a metal gate. After attacking the mosque, the man ran from the scene. Dacorum borough councillor Suqlain Mahmood said: “I think it was an act of vandalism which was an isolated incident. We have never had something like this before.” He suggested that the offender could have been drunk and disorderly. He added: “Obviously we are addressing the issue and security has been put up and CCTV.” A spokesman from the mosque’s committee said it is not yet known what the cost of the damage will be. He said: “We have been here 20-odd years and never had a problem. It is nothing to be going crazy about.”
© The Hemel Today

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VICTIMS OF HATE CRIME STILL SUFFER IN SILENCE (uk)

10/1/2011- Hate crime in Wales could be under-reported by up to 90%, experts warned today as the first all-Wales hate crime survey was launched. Association of Chief Police Officers figures show almost 2,000 hate incidents were recorded in Wales last year. But Race Equality First’s Mair Rigby said this was probably the tip of an iceberg and more needs to be known about when, where and how often offences are committed in order to tackle the problem. “I am of the opinion that hate crime is significantly underreported in Wales,” she said. “As we don’t know the actual amount of hate crime, it’s difficult to give a degree or percentage, but most surveys that we do have show that across strands between 50% to 90% of victims state not reporting hate crime to the police. “The police estimate that about 90% of homophobic hate crime goes unreported, for example. “We really need more research to give us a better idea of the true levels of under-reporting, which is why we’re undertaking this survey.”

The survey, launched by the Cardiff and the Vale Equality and Human Rights Network, will log racial and religiously- motivated crimes as well as those motivated by hostility against disability, gender and sexual orientation. The survey is part of the three-year Big Lottery funded All Wales Hate Crime Research Project, led by Cardiff- based Race Equality First in partnership with Cardiff University. Dr Matthew Williams, of the centre for crime, law and justice at Cardiff University, said: “Currently, data pertaining to hate crime in Wales is limited in its capacity to identify the extent of the problem. “This project broadens the focus beyond the equality categories recognised by the Home Office to provide a more comprehensive picture of hate crime in Wales and the impact it has upon all victims.” The research project prioritises gathering information on hate crimes and incidents, which includes criminal acts and low level persistent incidents such as harassment, name-calling, ridicule, being ignored and being treated with impatience, intolerance or frustration because of identity.

The findings from the survey will be used to improve support for victims and help national and local agencies to develop evidence-based policy and practice to combat hate crime in Wales. Jenny-Anne Bishop, 64, a transgender woman from Rhyl, who was born Paul, said she has endured years of abuse, from name-calling to criminal damage. “I had ‘trannies live here’ written on the side of my house. I regularly had my car vandalised and smashed until in the end I didn’t bother cleaning it up because they would just do it again,” she said. “It can get quite nasty. I was abused quite badly by a young man at a railway station who took offence at my just being me.” Through the Unique Transgender Network, Ms Bishop works with North Wales Police to increase awareness of transgender issues among officers. She said victims who have reported crimes have found the police to be helpful and supportive. But many are still too afraid to come forward. “We know if hate crime goes unreported it can quickly escalate from name calling to property damage and physical assault. “People have lit matches and put them through people’s letter boxes to try to set the house on fire. “If you do that [report incidents] the police can build up a picture and identify hotspots, so they can patrol the area more regularly.”

People can register their interest in participating in the survey by going to the website: www.wales hatecrimeresearch.com
© Wales Online

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Headlines 7 January, 2011

COPTIC CHURCHES IN EUROPE REPORT ATTACK THREATS

3/1/2011- Coptic Church leaders across Europe have revealed they have been the target of threats in the wake of the New Year's Day bomb attack in Egypt. A priest in Paris has made a complaint to police which has led to an inquiry by the anti-terror squad, reports say. A senior official in the UK says threats have been "outlined" against two churches, and a bishop in Germany has called for government protection. The Alexandria bombing killed 21 people as worshippers left midnight mass. The security concerns in Europe come days before Coptic communities celebrate Christmas on 7 January.

'Online threats'
Girguis Lucas, a priest at the Coptic Church of St Mary and St Mark in Paris, told AFP news agency that a member of his congregation had spoken of internet threats "from Islamic mujahideen who announced more attacks in Europe and especially in France and mentioned our church". The General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Britain, Bishop Angaelos, said that he had discussed the threats with fellow bishops across Europe and that precautions taken after earlier attacks had been heightened. "We take any threat as being viable," he told the BBC News website. "There are a couple of churches [in the UK] that have been outlined." Bishop Angaelos - who describes the Egyptian bombing as "unprecedented" - says a general funeral service is being planned in churches across Europe in memory of the victims in Alexandria. The German interior ministry says members of the Coptic church expressed their concerns even before the New Year's Day suicide attack. Bishop Anba Damian told German radio that his community had been warned by police about online threats by Islamists.

'Barbaric'
Coptic communities in Germany, France and Britain as well as Egypt were cited by Islamist websites two weeks ago, apparently accusing Egyptian Christians of mistreating female converts to Islam. A spokesman told German media the ministry was in security talks with the Church. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has written to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak expressing her condolences for "this barbaric act of terror". But Stefan Mueller, parliamentary leader of the junior coalition party, Christian Social Union, called on Mrs Merkel to go further, by linking development aid to the treatment of Christians in relevant countries.

GENEVA POLICE TO PROTECT SWISS COPTS
Coptic Christians in Switzerland say they are fearful of being victims of an attack following a recent bombing against their community in Egypt. “Our church, like 70 other Coptic churches around the world, features on a list of a radical Islamic site,” said Mikhail Megally, head of the Coptic community in French-speaking Switzerland. Two of the church’s prominent members, a theologian and a lawyer, are mentioned by name on the site. Copts celebrate Christmas on January 7. This year Geneva police plan to provide security for the ceremony at a Coptic Christian church in Meyrin, canton Geneva. “Just as in Egypt, we here in Switzerland now feel directly threatened,” said Atef Michael, a Meyrin-based Copt. “It’s a new feeling and scary.” Megally added that the feeling of insecurity among Copts has worsened since al Qaida in Iraq killed 58 members in Bagdad in October. The New Year’s Day attack at a Coptic church in Alexandria left 21 people dead. The Inter-Knowing Foundation, a Geneva-based group that works to improve ties between Muslims and the rest of the world, has strongly condemned the New Years attack, saying that “nothing justifies this crime against innocent people and Islam will be the first to condemn [these fanatical and barbarian criminals] in the strongest”.
swissinfo.ch

DUTCH COPTIC CHURCHES THREATENED BY AL-QAEDA 
Three Coptic Orthodox churches in the Netherlands feature on an al-Qaeda list of possible bombing targets, say church spokespeople. The churches in Eindhoven, Utrecht and Amsterdam are named on the website Shumukh al-Islam, along with dozens of other Coptic churches in Egypt and across Europe. The website has called for bomb attacks on the churches during the Coptic Christmas on 7 January. The al-Qiddisin Church in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, where at least 21 people were killed in a bomb attack on Saturday, also featured on the list. Jozef Rizkalla, the priest of the Coptic Church in Eindhoven, said “There’s nothing we can do, we can only pray and refer the matter to the police. We will go on with our celebrations."
Radio Netherlands Worldwide
© BBC News

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N.Y. SYNAGOGUE GETS BOMB THREAT; HATE CRIMES AGAINST JEWS RISE (usa)

2/1/2011- A letter threatening to blow up a New York City synagogue was discovered the same day as the release of a state report showing that hate crimes against Jews had risen significantly. A letter discovered on the evening of Dec. 30 at the Congregation Ohab Zedek on the upper West Side of Manhattan threatened to blow up the synagogue on New Year's Eve, the New York Post reported. The newspaper quoted synagogue rabbi Allen Schwartz as saying that up to a dozen other synagogues received similar letters. The report on hate crimes in New York State for 2009 was also released late last week by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. According to the report, 37 percent of hate crimes for 2009 were against Jews and Jewish institutions, a 15 percent rise over the previous year, according to reports. There were 251 hate crimes against Jews and Jewish property in 2009, up from 219 the previous year. The total number of hate crimes in New York State rose by 14 percent, from 599 to 683. Anti-black hate crimes accounted for 21 percent of the total, anti-male homosexual hate crimes for 12 percent, and anti-Hispanic hate crimes for 6 percent.
© JTA News

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PROSTITUTES REMAIN AT RISK FROM A MUDDLE OVER THE SEX TRADE (uk)

Confusion about the law and a lack of consensus on reform means violence against sex workers will continue

2/1/2011- When the Association of Chief Police Officers' lead officer on prostitution called for a debate on Britain's "frankly complicated" sex trade laws, he reignited a simmering dispute on how to deal with the world's oldest profession. Responding in part to the gruesome headlines after "crossbow killer" Stephen Griffiths was jailed for life last month for murdering three women prostitutes in Bradford, deputy chief constable Simon Byrne sensibly told the BBC there should be an "ugly mugs" register – a national database of people with a track record of violence against sex workers.

But a documentary on the issue exposed a postcode lottery of justice faced by the 80,000 prostitutes in Britain. In Liverpool since 2007, attacks against sex workers have been prioritised as hate crimes with astonishing results. Last year there were 10 convictions brought by Merseyside police for raping prostitutes compared to only one in the five years before 2007. Up the road in Blackpool, the council was shutting down brothels – because the law allows for only one person to sell sex in a property. Paradoxically, selling sex in Britain is not illegal, but brothels are outlawed. The result is women left to fend for themselves on the streets. To experts this seems absurd. "The most enlightened sex laws are in New Zealand, where it is legal for up to four prostitutes to work together. You can work safely with friends from a home without visits from cops and keep the profits," said Laura Agustín, an anthropologist who studies the sex trade.

Britain's muddle over prostitution has evolved over the last two decades. Vice squads have been disappearing and the number of people found guilty of loitering for prostitution, or soliciting, has dropped from 5,223 in 1998 to only a tenth of that level a decade later. The effect has been a patchy de facto decriminalisation of prostitution. At the same time, there has also been a movement towards criminalising those who buy sex. These two trends culminated in New Labour's last crime act, which came into force early last year. It made it easier to prosecute men who buy sex from trafficked foreign women and also asked magistrates not to fine prostitutes who repeatedly appear before them for soliciting sex. Instead, women could be "helped and hassled" by counsellors out of their sex work, a shift in legal perception which now sees people who sell their bodies as victims of drug dependence or extreme poverty.

This represents a new balance in the desire to control the crime associated with the sex trade while acknowledging the limits on the role of the state. But for many the act did not go far enough. In Scotland, politicians want to emulate Sweden where, a decade ago, the law was changed so that people who patronise prostitutes face jail terms of up to six months. For some this would cut off the supply of punters and force prostitutes out of a job. "We need to get women out of a sex trade where violence is a daily part of their life," said Roger Matthews, a criminologist at South Bank University, London. "Many Labour politicians understood this and we would've seen Swedish law coming to Britain in two years had they won the election."

The coalition, says Matthews, is different. For libertarians the buying and selling of sex is viewed as a freely undertaken transaction in which the state's role is as a light-touch regulator, enforcing standards and collecting taxes. At the other end are the abolitionists who view the issue as moral, requiring a ban on the sex trade to halt women being exploited for men's gratification. Those who work with prostitutes say both extremes are wrong. Shelly Stoops, from Liverpool's Armistead Street project that runs centres for sex workers, says she "takes the view that if a woman has the right to say no, then she has the right to say yes. You cannot stop prostitution, it will only go somewhere else".
© The Observer

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WHITE SUPREMACIST WANTED IN B.C. TAUNTS POLICE FROM U.S.

7/1/2011- A well-known white supremacist who's facing a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest has taken to taunting police in this country as they seek to bring him to justice for alleged hate crimes. Craig Cobb, 59, was arrested June 17 in Vancouver on suspicion of promoting hatred of blacks, Jews, gays and lesbians through a website — www.podblanc.com — that it's alleged he operated from Vancouver over a 10-month period. But because federal hate-crime law requires the provincial attorney general's approval for a charge, Cobb was released after his arrest and quickly fled south across the U.S. border, said Det. Terry Wilson of the B.C. Hate Crimes Team. Crown counsel in B.C. finally laid a charge of promoting hatred on Dec. 30, and police issued an arrest warrant for Cobb, who is a dual Canadian/U.S. citizen, the following day.

Wilson emailed Cobb a notice of the warrant, who then posted the message on his Facebook site — adding a bit of commentary. "Get An Extradition Order, Chump Terry Wilson," Cobb wrote, by way of introducing the warrant notice. Cobb further addressed Wilson on his blog, saying "You can find me in the orange easy chair near the elevator" at the library in Kalispell, Montana. Police believe Cobb is in the northwest U.S., but while the fugitive has posted information on Facebook suggesting he's in Montana, Wilson said it could be a ruse. Cobb has a long history in the white-power movement in the U.S., according to the Southern Poverty Law Center a left-wing research group.

At the 2005 memorial for U.S. civil-rights icon Rosa Parks in Washington, Cobb videotaped mourners responding as he called Parks a "s—skin communist" and said he was there to "celebrate her death," the SPLC reported. The now-closed podblanc website had more than 1,000 channels, each directed by a different registered user, with content including handgun training, explosives-making and details of security measures at three California synagogues, according to the SPLC. The site's most-popular videos showed Russian neo-Nazis beheading and shooting Asian immigrants, with other videos showing Russian and eastern European skinheads punching and stomping orthodox Jews and non-whites, according to the SPLC.

In January 2009, 22-year-old Keith Luke told police in Massachusetts he'd been inspired by podblanc and other white-power websites to go on a killing spree in which he murdered two black immigrants and raped and shot another, the local Enterprise newspaper reported. Cobb spent three years trying to gather white-supremacist support in northern Europe, but was kicked out of Estonia in August 2009. Wilson said Cobb arrived in Canada soon after. The U.S. First Amendment guarantee of free speech may make it impossible to get Cobb extradited to face the Canadian charge of communicating hatred, Wilson said. "You need to have a similar offence in the country that you're extraditing from," Wilson said, adding that he isn't aware of any instances of suspects being extradited to Canada to face a promoting-hatred charge. "If he sets foot in Canada, he'll be arrested."
© The Vancouver Sun

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HATE CRIME PROBED IN DAMAGE TO GAY, LESBIAN NEWSPAPER BOXES(Canada)

1/1/2011- Police are looking for signs of a hate crime in extensive damage to numerous newspaper boxes in the downtown area. The boxes carried copies of the gay and lesbian paper known as Xtra. “Police are looking for a suspect in a case of mischief involving damage to a large number of newspaper boxes over the holidays,” said Const. Jana McGuinness. “Sometime between December 25th and December 29th, fourteen newspaper boxes belonging to Pink Triangle Press, which distributes a gay and lesbian paper called Xtra, were targeted by vandals,” she said. ” In most of the cases, the front door glass was heavily damaged and papers were stolen. The investigation has yet to identify a suspect or clearly determine a motive for the vandalism but police are hoping surveillance video will provide some clues. While it is too early to say if the crime was motivated by hate, investigators from the VPD Hate Crime Unit are looking into that possibility as no other adjacent newspaper boxes were targeted.” “The damaged newspaper boxes were primarily in the downtown core on Robson, Denman, Hornby, Beach and Burrard streets.
© The Vancouverite

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