Connect with us
[adrotate banner="51"]

Crime

Hate crimes in Virginia were up nearly 50% year over year, State Police data shows

Hate crimes in Virginia rose nearly 50 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to the most recent report from the Virginia State Police. That surge, along with the neo-Nazi rally that left a counterprotester dead in Charlottesville, prompted state Attorney General Mark Herring to propose legislation to address the problem. However, all of the bills died in this year’s General Assembly.

Capital News Service

Published

on

By Jayla Marie McNeill and Ben Burstein

Virginia recorded more than 200 hate crimes in 2017 — up nearly 50% from the previous year, according to the latest data from the Virginia State Police.

That surge, along with the neo-Nazi rally that left a counterprotester dead in Charlottesville two years ago, prompted state Attorney General Mark Herring to propose legislation to address the problem. However, all of the bills died in this year’s General Assembly.

The FBI defines a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

According to data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, 7,175 hate crimes were reported across the U.S. in 2017. About 60% of those crimes were related to race, 21% to religion and 16% to sexual orientation.

In Virginia, hate crimes jumped from 137 in 2016 to 202 the following year, according to the Virginia State Police. Virginia had more hate crimes in 2017 than during any year since 2008.

Of the 202 hate crimes committed in 2017:

  • 89 (44%) were racially motivated
  • 44 (22%) were religiously motivated
  • 38 (19%) were related to sexual orientation,
  • 20 (10%) were related to ethnicity
  • 11 (5%) were motivated by bias against disability

Herring has been concerned about the issue for several years. In 2016, he launched his “No Hate VA” initiative, which included creating a website and holding discussion groups across the state to address the rise in hate crimes.

“I’m putting these ideas forward and convening these roundtables because it’s time for action,” Herring stated in a press release.

“I will do everything I can and work with anyone who wants to ensure that all Virginians are protected from hate and violence, no matter what they look like, how they worship, where they come from, or who they love.”

In August 2017, a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville turned deadly after James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into a crowd of counterdemonstrators, injuring dozens of people and killing Heather Heyer. Herring then amped up his fight against hate crimes and white supremacist groups.

In 2018 and again this year, Herring called on the General Assembly to pass laws dealing with hate crimes. His 2019 legislative agenda included:

  • Updating Virginia’s definition of “hate crime” by adding gender and sexual orientation.
  • Allowing the attorney general to prosecute hate crimes across multiple jurisdictions.
  • Prohibiting paramilitary activity such as “drilling, parading, or marching with any firearm or explosive or incendiary device.”
  • Banning firearms from public events.
  • Banning firearms from individuals who have been convicted of a hate crime.

Virginia defines a hate crime as “any legal act directed against any persons or property because of those persons’ race, religion or national origin.”

Unlike the federal definition, Virginia’s definition of a hate crime does not include gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. (In its annual statistics, the Virginia State Police categorize offenses according to the federal definition.)

Legislation to expand Virginia’s definition of a hate crime was carried by Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington. SB 1375 was killed in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee on an 8-6 party-line vote, with Republicans voting against the bill.

Democratic Sens. Louise Lucas of Portsmouth and Creigh Deeds of Bath County sponsored the legislation to prohibit paramilitary activity. SB 1210 sought to charge individuals with a Class 5 felony if “a person is guilty of unlawful paramilitary activity if such person assembles with another person with the intent of intimidating any person or group of persons by drilling, parading, or marching with any firearm or explosive or incendiary device or any components or combination thereof.”

The bill cleared the Senate Courts of Justice Committee on a 7-6 vote but died in the Senate Finance Committee.

In all, 10 bills before the General Assembly this year attempted to address hate crimes. Seven of the bills were defeated in the House of Delegates and three in the Senate.

For example, two identical bills were introduced to let local governments prohibit firearms at public events: HB 1956 by Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, and SB 1473 by Deeds. Both measures aimed to authorize “any locality by ordinance to prohibit the possession or carrying of firearms, ammunition, or components or any combination thereof in a public space during a permitted event or an event that would otherwise require a permit.”

Both bills died in their chamber of origin.

Despite the lack of legislative action, advocacy groups across Virginia are working to help victims of hate crimes. Assistance ranges from counseling to lawyer referrals.

Herring’s “No Hate VA” includes resources for victims of hate crimes as well as advice on how to report a crime.

The website encourages victims to immediately report hate crimes to the police and to their local FBI office. The FBI has an online form at https://tips.fbi.gov

Comments

comments

The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Crime

Four charged for throwing objects at restaurant patrons, rocks at police car, and assaulting officer Tuesday night

On Tuesday night a group of individuals walked through Richmond, eventually damaging vehicles and buildings in several areas in the city and causing unrest. Four were arrested.

RVAHub Staff

Published

on

On Tuesday night a group of individuals walked through Richmond, eventually damaging vehicles and buildings in several areas in the city and causing unrest. Four were arrested.

After leaving Monroe Park, the group headed west along West Main Street. At approximately 9:54 p.m., individuals in the group were observed throwing objects at patrons at a restaurant. Soon after, officers observed an individual throw a large stone and damage an RPD K-9 vehicle. A photo of the stone that was recovered is attached. Later, that same individual was seen throwing an object against a business. As officers moved to arrest this individual, a group member assaulted an officer.

An unlawful assembly was not declared and no chemical agents were deployed.

The Department consulted with the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney on possible charges and charged four individuals. Their photos are attached.

Paxton Chapman was charged with obstruction of justice, carrying a concealed weapon, and pedestrian in the roadway.

Saraswati Rowe was charged with obstructing free passage.

Harrison Sellers was charged with inciting a riot and throwing a missile at an occupied vehicle.

Michael Toney was charged with assault on a law enforcement officer.

Anyone with further information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.

Comments

comments

Continue Reading

Crime

Arrest made in Chamberlayne Avenue homicide

Richmond Police detectives have made an arrest in the homicide of Estelle Pugh that occurred earlier this month on Chamberlayne Avenue.

RVAHub Staff

Published

on

From Richmond Police:

Richmond Police detectives have made an arrest in the homicide of Estelle Pugh that occurred earlier this month on Chamberlayne Avenue.

Louis Ellis, Jr. surrendered to authorities in Florida after Richmond Police Department detectives, investigating the homicide, originally charged Ellis with felony credit card fraud in connection with the murder. His booking photo is attached.

Ellis has now been charged with first degree murder and felony assault after a welfare check was conducted and Pugh was found murdered at approximately 8:22 a.m. on Tuesday, October 6, in an apartment in the 3600 block of Chamberlayne Avenue.

Anyone with further information about this incident is asked to call Detective A. Sleem at (804) 815-7123 or contact Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones also may be used. All Crime Stoppers reporting methods are anonymous.

Comments

comments

Continue Reading

Crime

VIDEO: Police seeking suspect in armed robbery at convenience store on Mechanicsville Turnpike

Just after 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, September 20, an unknown male entered the 804 Market in the 1600 block of Mechanicsville Turnpike. He displayed a handgun, gave the clerk a plastic bag, and told him to fill it with money.

RVAHub Staff

Published

on

From RPD:

Richmond Police detectives are asking for the public’s help to identify the individual in the photos and video who is the suspect in a commercial robbery that occurred earlier this month.

Just after 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, September 20, an unknown male entered the 804 Market in the 1600 block of Mechanicsville Turnpike. He displayed a handgun, gave the clerk a plastic bag, and told him to fill it with money. The suspect then fled with an undisclosed amount of money and was last seen running east on Fairfield Avenue.

Anyone with information about his identity is asked to call First Precinct Detective D. Jones at (804) 646-0689 or contact Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000 or at www.7801000.com. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones may also be used.  All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

Comments

comments

Continue Reading

Richmond Weather