On Tuesday, four people in California were ordered to stand trial on charges that they set an 11-foot cross on fire outside of the home of a Black teenager earlier this year.
On Sept. 28, the group, all white and Hispanic men ranging in age from 20 to 36 years old, will be arraigned on charges of arson, conspiracy and hate crime. However, this is not the first time in recent weeks that hate crimes have been reported.
Just last week, a couple in Newark, Delaware reported that they found a cross with racial slurs including,“ I hate N****s” and “burn in hell” on their front lawn and just last month, BET.com reported that a video showed white teens beating up, driving over and killing African-American James Anderson.
“I think what’s going on in the big picture is that many, many, white Americans feel that they are somehow losing their country to people who don’t look like them. That sense has clearly been exacerbated by the appearance of Barack Obama,” Mark Potok, director of the intelligence group at the Southern Poverty Law Center tells BET.com.
Potok says that since 2008 the SPLC, which investigates hate crimes, has seen an increased level of hatred directed at the president personally and at African-Americans.
According to the most recent available data as reported by the FBI Hate Crime Statistics, in 2009 there were 2,284 anti-Black hate crime incidents directed at African-Americans, but Potok says that in actuality those numbers are around 20 to 30 times higher.
Additionally he is predicting that hate crimes could get worse in the volatile political climate of the upcoming election.
Potock says that he and his department’s purpose is to try to diminish the negative effects of the radical right in the United States. This includes anything from loathsome and false propaganda against certain minority groups, to actual, violent criminal acts.
Short of assigning a police officer to every person in the United States, he’s not really sure how you can prevent crime like this in advance.
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(Photo: David McNew/Getty Images)