TIME Crime

Man Arrested for Stabbing Transgender Teen on D.C. Metro

A suspect has been charged with assault using a deadly weapon and could face a longer sentence if convicted of a hate crime

Authorities say a 15-year-old transgender teenager who was stabbed on the Green Line Metro in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. is currently recovering from her non-life-threatening injuries at a local hospital, and remains in stable condition. The police apprehended a suspect, 24-year-old Reginald Anthony Klaiber of Greenbelt, Md., after witnesses identified him at a nearby station.

The victims’ friends told local news that Klaiber approached the group, singled out the victim, and ridiculed her for her appearance. Dan Stessell, a Metro spokesman, told CBS DC that Klaiber allegedly stabbed the victim in the back one time before he fled to Fort Totten Station, where he was later arrested.

The attack comes shortly after a report released by Trans Violence Tracking Portal (TVTP), revealed that 102 transgender people were murdered in 12 countries from January to April this year. Allison Woolbert, the founder of TVTP, says an antitransgender stigma has led to a disproportionate rate of violence against transgender people in 2014. “The suicides, the violence, the missing persons, and the murders are all directly related to a person’s gender identity,” Woolbert wrote to Vox.

The District of Columbia’s hate-crime laws offer some protection to transgender victims by enhancing sentences for offenders. The Metropolitan Police Department is also required to federally report hate crimes each year.

Klaiber was charged with assault using a deadly weapon and could face additional hate-crime charges, according to NBC Washington. If found guilty, the suspect’s sentence could be extended 1.5 times under District of Columbia law.

TIME

Why Hate Crimes Persist More Than Violent Crimes

There's enough evidence to charge Frazier Glenn Cross for a hate crime after Sunday's deadly shooting at a Jewish community center and senior living facility. Here's why crimes based on biases can be harder to combat than other violent crimes

Correction appended: April 15, 2014.

Law-enforcement officials announced on Monday that they had enough evidence to charge Frazier Glenn Cross for a hate crime in the shooting at a Jewish community center and senior living facility that left three people dead.

“We have unquestionably determined through the work of law enforcement that this was a hate crime,” Overland Park police chief John Douglass told the Associated Press. Cross, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, was reportedly heard shouting “Heil Hitler” from the back of a police car while in custody.

Hate crimes, which are motivated by biases based on race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin and disability, have dropped in the U.S. in recent years. In 2012, there were 5,796 incidents, compared with 6,222 reports in 2011, according to the FBI. Racially motivated violations still make up nearly half of all hate crimes, followed by 20% that are tied to sexual orientation.

(MORE: Kansas City Shooting Is Hate of an Ancient Vintage)

While violent crime in the U.S. has dropped as well, the decline in hate crimes hasn’t been as rapid and may be harder to combat, says Jack McDevitt, associate dean for research in the college of social science and humanities at Northeastern University. That’s because neighborhoods in the U.S. are only becoming more diverse, which means that locally and even personally perceived biases or injustices may become more glaring to certain individuals. “I fear [such hate crimes] will increase,” McDevitt says. “There are people out there who see increasing diversity as a threat, then they strike out.”

Contrary to what sociologists believed for years — that hate crimes are fueled by economic pressures as new groups received benefits or better jobs – the driving force may be something more basic to human nature: our tendency to feel threatened in the face of change. “One of the major sources of hate crime is what is perceived of as rapid in-migration of other groups into formerly racially, ethnically or religiously homogenous areas,” says Donald Green, a professor of political science at Columbia University, who has studied this connection extensively. “From the standpoint of a hate crime, the tipping point is the very first group that moves in.” As people feel threatened and believe they need to “defend” their neighborhood or way or life, that’s enough to prompt vandalism or violent crime, he says. In contrast, in issues involving housing regulations or schooling, about a quarter or a third of the population needs to change before a threat is perceived and acted upon.

(MORE: 3 Dead After Shootings at Kansas Jewish Facilities)

Antiracial crimes committed by far-right extremists are more likely in communities with a denser Jewish population, according to a U.S. Extremist Crime Database study, led by Joshua Freilich of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Roberta Belli of United Nationals Department of Safety and Security, and Steven Chermak of Michigan State University. For example, hate crimes against Jewish communities are more common in states with higher Jewish populations; in New York, where they make up 9% of the state’s population, there were 248 such incidents in 2012, a nearly 30% increase from 2011. One reason, Freilich hypothesized in an email to TIME, is the possibility that “far-right racist leaders focused their efforts on counties where Jews were visible, and inspired their supporters residing in those counties to lash out and attack the far-right’s ideological enemies.”

Such patterns of scapegoating and blame may make hate crimes frustratingly difficult to curb downward, says McDevitt, and that means that tragedies like the shootings in Overland Park, Kans., may continue to percolate across the country.

Correction: The original version of this article misstated Steven Chermak’s institutional affiliation. He is affiliated with Michigan State University.

TIME Kansas City shooting

Kansas City Shooting Is Hate of an Ancient Vintage

Classmates of one of the victims hug during a prayer service for the victims of the Jewish Community Center shootings in Leawood, Kans., on April 13, 2014 John Sleezer—Kansas City Star/MCT/Getty Images

Though the police remain cautious on motive, for many the attack at a Jewish community center outside Kansas City leaves little doubt over the assailant's anti-Semitic views

At a press conference four hours after three people were killed in shootings at two Jewish facilities near Kansas City, Mo., authorities cautiously noted that they did not yet know the motive. Only after prompting did John Douglass, chief of police in the sprawling suburb of Overland Park, Kans., say “We are investigating it as a hate crime.”

At 10:15 p.m. E.T., when I asked Douglass over the phone why the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City (JCC) was targeted, he reiterated, very reasonably, “We’re being very careful not to put out anything that we don’t know for certain.”

But one look at the campus of the JCC leaves little doubt. Set well back from nearby thoroughfares, nestled behind berms on the campus of Sprint’s corporate headquarters, the center is not the sort of place that a gunman finds at random.

And if history teaches anything, it’s the sad fact that when a gunman seeks out a Jewish center and opens fire, the motive is hate of an ancient vintage.

Three people were dead on Sunday, the eve of Passover, two more had narrowly escaped being wounded (in one case, a student’s backpack was hit), and a suspect was in custody. Apparently, the gunman first murdered a woman on the parking lot of Village Shalom, a Jewish-oriented retirement development, then drove a short distance north to kill a 14-year-old boy and his grandfather at the JCC.

A short time later, police arrested a bearded man in his 70s outside an elementary school a mile from the second crime scene. Reporters at the scene said he smiled as he was taken away from a white sedan with a Missouri license plate, and that he may have called out “Heil Hitler!”

Roiling dark rain clouds swept over the neighborhood as police and FBI agents began gathering evidence. They spoke to witnesses who told them that the JCC facility was bustling on Sunday at about 1 p.m. Members were working out in the fitness center, actors were rehearsing for an upcoming performance of To Kill a Mockingbird, and throngs of teenagers from throughout the metro area were gathering to audition for the KC SuperStar talent competition.

“There were tons of kids because this was about to start at 1 o’clock,” competition publicist Ruth Bigus told the Kansas City Star.

One of the victims — identified by the Kansas City Star as Eagle Scout Reat Griffin Underwood, a high school freshman — may have been on his way to the tryouts. The gunman used a shotgun to kill the boy and his grandfather, identified by the Star as William Lewis Corporon, a physician, as they arrived in the parking lot.

Overland Park police have long been sensitive to the possibility of anti-Semitic violence in the area, which is home to a number of synagogues and other prominent Jewish institutions. An off-duty police officer was reportedly stationed at the JCC and may have played a role in ending the rampage. Police chief Douglass reported that the gunman may have had other weapons besides the shotgun — suggesting that he might have planned to kill more people.

As the suspect fled, staff at the community center put a well-rehearsed disaster plan into action. Dozens of people were ushered into inside rooms as outside doors were locked tight. Young musicians huddled on the auditorium floor, while others crowded into locker rooms. Given the ominous spring weather, many people initially believed they were responding to a tornado warning; only after about 15 minutes were they told about the shootings.

Douglass confirmed that an off-duty officer was at work inside the JCC at the time of the shooting. The officer helped guide people to safety, then rushed outside as the gunman was driving away. By then, calls were flooding into 911. “We realized we had an active shooter in the vicinity, so the protocol is to flood the zone with first responders,” said the chief. “We quickly found the suspect sitting in his car at the school parking lot.”

Officials at the Church of the Resurrection, a large United Methodist congregation in nearby Leawood, Kans., reported on Sunday evening that Corporon, who died at the scene of the crime, and Underwood, who died as surgeons struggled to save him at Overland Park Regional Medical Center, were members of their church. There was nothing remotely surprising about the fact that a Christian teenager and his grandfather were visiting the JCC. Thousands of Kansas City residents of every faith (and no faith at all) are made welcome each year at the center’s many public events.

Unfortunately, that spirit of community means nothing to a bigot with murder in his heart. He sees the word Jewish and the word shalom (peace), and that’s all he needs to know.

Chief Douglass was being a careful professional when he said “It’s too early in the investigation to try to label it. We know it’s a vicious act of violence.” Douglass continued, but before calling it a hate crime “we’re going to have to know more about it.”

For the rest of us, the facts speak for themselves.

TIME hate crimes

U.S. Police to Get Transgender Training

San Francisco Celebrates Gay Pride With Annual Parade
In this file photo from 2008, members of the Hayward, California police department take part in the 38th Annual San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration David Paul Morris—Getty Images

Officers to learn how to spot hate crimes and build trust with a community that is disproportionately at risk of abuse

The Justice Department has launched a program to train local police departments to better respond to transgender people, who disproportionately suffer from violence and abuse.

Launched Thursday, the initiative will help officers to identify hate crimes and foster trust within the transgender population. Law enforcement officials say many in the community are often reluctant to report such crimes, reports Associated Press.

“It’s clear that such a training is as necessary as it is overdue,” says Associate Attorney-General Tony West. “Because too often, in too many places, we know that transgender victims are discouraged from reporting hate crimes and hate violence due to their past negative interactions with and perceptions of law enforcement.”

[AP]

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