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    October 18, 2007

    Chatroom target = hate crime?

    Posted by: Chris

    Given all the emotion surrounding Michael Sandy's tragic death, it can be difficult to accept that the case is really a square peg trying to fit into the round "hate crime" hole.  But an example from today's headlines will illustrate the point.

    Boykin1_2 Police in Miami-Dade are concerned about a rash of crimes similar to what happened to Sandy, where the bad guys use telephone and online chatrooms to choose their prey, then rob or even kill them when they meet up for sex.

    The Miami Herald reports of the cold-blooded killing of a gay south Florida man that is even worse than Sandy's robbery-gone-bad, in which the promising black gay designer was killed when he fled the defendants and ran onto a nearby highway, where he was struck and killed.

    In April, 19-year-old Darnell Boykin, pictured, climbed into the car of a homeless advocate named Albert Merritt, 41, outside a Little Haiti church. The two had met through a popular telephone chat line.

    Moments later, Merritt was shot dead. Boykin stole his Nextel phone and sold it, police say. Soon, Boykin was charged with murder.

    It doesn't even matter if Boykin is straight or not, since Anthony Fortunato, one of those responsible for Michael Sandy's defense, tried that route.  Under broadly written hate crime laws like the one on the books in New York, all that matters is that Boykin and Fortunato  purposefully targeted their victims on a gay chatline.  To the extent there is a substantive difference between the two crimes, Boykin's was actually worse since he pulled the trigger, while Sandy's perpetrators put him in a situation where he was life was in danger and was ultimately taken.

    In any event, there is no evidence either was a true hate crime, motivated by hatred of gay people.



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    1. Randy on Oct 18, 2007 3:28:26 PM:

      ....which illustrates the point that a crime is a crime whether you are gay or not. The other side of the same coin is those who will use this as another notch in hate crimes statistics.

      It's not about gay people it is about Mr. Merritt and his surviving family receiving equal justice under current law (because the last I heard ... murder was already a crime.)

    1. Double T on Oct 18, 2007 6:19:33 PM:

      If I understand CC's definition. When a HATE CRIME occurrs, it's really two events.

      1)the simple crime, ie murder

      2)the HATE CRIME, is the broadcasting of #1 to a specific group with the end goal of terrorizing them.

      Ex.you murder a black man, then dump the body in front of a black church.

      CC, is that correct?

      I'll have to think about this, I'm sure I'll find a loophole in the logic.

    1. Sean on Oct 18, 2007 10:54:18 PM:

      Yes, Albert Merritt's murder was a hate crime. Darnell Boykin's sole intention was to kill a gay man, the robbery was an afterthought. It should be noted that the only two people that were killed from these phone/ internet schemes in Miami-Dade county were gay men. Out of the hundreds that were victimized the two that were killed were gay.

      Read it:

    1. Double T on Oct 19, 2007 12:40:25 PM:

      Sean, as I read this, I believe Chris is saying that the act of killing someone for being gay isn't enough for HATE CRIME. There has to be a "broadcasting" of it, and the community needs to be in fear. His argument(I assume) is if the crime was a secret or unnoticed, it doesn't qualify.

      I'm not sure if I agree with that line of thought

    1. Citizen Crain on Oct 19, 2007 3:09:02 PM:

      Sean, I can't follow your URLs. They are too long. I would suggest going here: http://www.tinyurl.com/

      You can create tiny URLs for your longer ones that are much easier to use as links in your comments.

      Double T, that's actually not what I'm saying. I'm saying there must be actual evidence that the crime was motivated by hate. That usually comes in the form of something being yelled at the victim, scrawled on property etc. It's not enough, as Sean suggests, to look at the sexual orientation (or race or gender etc) of the perp and the victim.

      I would not require that "hate message" be broadcast because the corrosive societal effect of hate crimes doesn't come just from highly publicized attacks. It spreads through word of mouth as well.

      But at a minimum, there must be evidence of hate, otherwise the hate crime opponents are right, and you are creating a special "class" of crimes. Someone lured to a crime scene through a chatroom is not (necessarily) the victim of a hate crime. The Miami Herald story shows that straight chatrooms are used in a similar way.

      Sean may well be right that the worse fate for gay chatroom victims is the result of hate or prejudice, but our criminal justice system requires proof, not assumptions.

    1. Sean on Oct 19, 2007 11:47:42 PM:

      Wrong, Chris. I am saying look at the pattern of crime committed against gay people. It's very clear what makes an anti-gay crime a hate crime.


      The motive for Albert Merritt's killing is very different than those of straight victims. None of the straight victims were targeted because of their sexuality. They either were targeted for robbery or sexual assault and none were killed. A family was robbed, why wasn't a bullet put in their heads? Because they were straight and it purely was a robbery. Boykin killed Albert Merritt and then stole his cell phone. That is a very different crime than these other robberies of straight people who have everything stolen from them and are left unharmed. One is a hate crime the other is a robbery.

      And obviously it's not a sexual crime because no sex happened.

    1. Double T on Oct 21, 2007 9:56:52 PM:


      This link is not about HATE Crime. It's about the young killing the old, I assume for money.

      Not Hate

    1. Sean on Oct 23, 2007 8:01:10 AM:

      Yes, those are hate crimes. Did you not read the "robbery is often 'an afterthought'" section?

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