New studies on how often hate crimes are perpetrated against certain minorities and what kind of crimes are most likely have been conducted during President Trump’s time in office, and the outlook is much as expected — the LGBTQ community is targeted at a disproportionate rate than other minority communities. They are almost four times more likely to become the victim of a hate crime.
These crimes often involve violence, which is what most of us think about when we hear the phrase “hate crime.” But there are other types of hate, and much of it is directed at property instead of people.
For example, many LGBTQ individuals who publically flew a rainbow flag in their yard acknowledge that the flag was vandalized, stolen, or destroyed. Minneapolis resident Troy Kriech decided to fly his own flag when he lived in Webster with a friend — but that it was quickly taken. He posted a video on Facebook of a fellow resident using homophobic slurs while burning the flag in full public view.
Brandt said, “I called the cops. They came over and took my statement. We had [the flag] screwed onto the house. There are still pieces of the flag hanging there. Then the video blows up on Facebook on Saturday. People are posting it and reporting it, just doggin’ him out and everything. I showed the cops the video before he deleted it. Then someone else had managed to save the video.”
Sadly, Day County State Attorney Danny Smeins doesn’t seem to acknowledge that vandalism is a crime! Smeins said to Forum News, “I don’t think there’s a crime itself in the burning of the flag. It’s a crime to steal it and it’s a crime to trespass on property to remove it. I haven’t seen the video year to see if there’s a threat being stated in it. There’s some loose ends as far as the investigation goes. I don’t know what going to happen with this. It’s complicated by the fact is the person complaining about it abandoned it, so it’s really not his property unless there was an agreement.”
Property damage attorney Ray Collins does not agree. Collins said, “Mr. Kriech lived on the premises where the flag was taken and then vandalized, and there was also damage to the property itself. Yes, trespassing is a crime. Yes, theft is a crime. But willful destruction of another person’s property is a crime too. Burning someone’s flag is something that opens the perpetrator up to both criminal and civil action — and both should be taken in conjunction with one another to show the person responsible for doing this that these actions are unacceptable in our society.”
The video depicts an obvious hate crime, which is also against the law and carries additional criminal penalties.
The South Dakota Attorney General’s website defines a hate crime as “a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or ethnicity/national origin.”
And yet, the burning of the flag is still controversial when someone says it is a hate crime: