| NEWS of the Day - March 17, 2012
|on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view ...
We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
From Google News
Rutgers hate crime verdict sends anti-bullying message
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dharun Ravi's hate crimes conviction for spying on his roommate's gay tryst represents a victory for gay rights and anti-bullying advocates - and a warning that such behavior won't simply be treated as a youthful mistake, legal experts say.
The Rutgers University roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide three days after learning Ravi used a webcam to spy on his encounter with another man. Ravi, who invited others to watch with him, was not charged with causing Clementi's death.
But the prosecution's decision to attach hate crime charges to a cyber-bullying case is "breaking new ground," said Marc Poirer, a law professor at Seton Hall University.
Ravi was convicted on Friday of all 15 counts, including bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and witness tampering.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers mostly agreed on the facts but the trial largely turned on what was in Ravi's mind at the time - and, thanks to an unusually strong New Jersey hate crime law, whether Clementi himself believed he was being bullied.
"The jury was saying that they were having zero tolerance for anything that appeared to be bullying," said Joel Reidenberg, a law professor at Fordham University.
New Jersey's bias intimidation law, like hate crime statutes in most states, functions as a "booster" charge, increasing the potential jail sentence when attached to an underlying crime -- in this case, invasion of privacy.
In most hate crime prosecutions, however, the underlying offense is either a violent crime or a crime in which the discrimination is obvious - for instance painting a swastika on the side of a synagogue.
"To me, it illustrates the dysfunction of hate crime laws that were passed with the idea that they would strike out against hate groups and neo-Nazi groups, and instead end up being used in these one-off kind of cases, where immature, confused young people act in some way that evidences prejudice," said James Jacobs, a professor at New York University School of Law.
The New Jersey law allows a jury to convict a defendant in two ways: either by concluding that the defendant targeted the victim out of bias, or by finding that the victim believed he had been targeted, even if that was not the defendant's intent.
The latter, which turns on the victim's state of mind rather than the defendant's, is rare among hate crime laws, legal experts said.
They are divided on whether it was appropriate to attach bias intimidation to the privacy charges.
"I truly wish that the case had not been brought with these kinds of charges," Poirer said. "I take bias intimidation seriously, but I don't think this is a particularly clear-cut case of it."
But Susan Abraham, a professor at New York Law School, said the evidence showed that Ravi had focused on Clementi's sexual orientation.
"The fact that he was clearly chosen, whatever you want to call it - even if you don't call it hate, don't call it bias, he was selected because he was gay," she said.
Ravi faces up to 10 years in prison for the bias intimidation conviction, but experts said he was almost assured of a lesser sentence, given his youth and lack of criminal history. For invasion of privacy alone, without the hate crimes, he would have faced no more than 5 years in prison.
An Indian citizen who grew up in the U.S., he also faces possible deportation.
From the FBI
Community Leaders Recognized
Their Actions Improve Lives
An Albuquerque man who devotes his time to educating his community about cyber threats. A Jacksonville woman whose child protection group assists law enforcement with crimes against children investigations. An Arizona organization that is dedicated to meeting the needs of murder victims' families. A man who established a volunteer organization in Delaware to serve at-risk youngsters.
Since 1990—through the Director's Leadership Community Awards (DCLA)—the FBI has publicly recognized the achievements of individuals and organizations like these who have gone above and beyond the call to service by making extraordinary contributions to their communities in the areas of terrorism, cyber, drug, gang, or violence prevention and education. And this year is no exception: today, nearly 60 individuals and organizational representatives—all 2011 DLCA recipients—gathered for a ceremony in their honor at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Director Mueller, who presented a specially designed plaque to each recipient, called the honorees “catalysts for change” in their communities and said that each one shared “a willingness to lead....a commitment to improving your neighborhoods...and a desire to make this country safer for your fellow citizens.”
Each of our field offices is given the chance to present the award at the local level during the year, and the honorees are then recognized at the annual national ceremony the following spring. FBI Headquarters selects at least one winner as well. A snapshot of this year's DCLA recipients shows the range of good work done across the nation:
- Anchorage: Covenant House Alaska offers services to homeless, runaway, and at-risk youth and has been an essential partner of the FBI on our Innocence Lost Task Force and human trafficking cases.
- Boston: Ted Woo is a member of BRIDGES (Building Respect in Diverse Groups to Enhance Sensitivity), a group of law enforcement and community leaders who work together on community concerns. Among other activities, Woo has coordinated several community events held in mosques and gurdwaras.
- Chicago: Brent King, whose daughter was kidnapped and murdered by a convicted sex offender, established a non-profit foundation dedicated to working with state legislatures to toughen restrictions on violent sexual predators.
- Jackson: Federal judge James Graves, Jr. is deeply committed to teaching, motivating, and inspiring Mississippi youth. He also mentors young people about the legal system.
- Kansas City: Marvin Szneler is the executive director of a Jewish organization that works to build relationships among various religious and community groups, government officials, law enforcement, educators, and the media.
- Miami: Essie Reed is the founder of Team of Life, Inc., an organization that serves at-risk children by providing meals, clothing, and transportation and encourages young people to help law enforcement reduce crime, drug abuse, and violence in their communities.
- Portland: Musse Olol, head of the Somali American Council of Oregon, assists Somali refugees by serving as an interpreter, facilitator, counselor, and co-sponsor and helps establish positive relationships between the Somali community and state and federal law enforcement.
- Tampa: Rose Ferlita established Bully Busters, a national anti-bullying program involving partnerships among young people, parents, local law enforcement, and community groups.
Congratulations to all the winners. It's our hope that their selfless actions to enhance the lives of neighbors and protect communities will inspire others to offer their time and talents to their own communities.