Last weekend was not a good time to be a queer student in the Tri-State. Not only were two gay Miami University of Oxford, Ohio, students assaulted, but a Lexington, Ky., area high school student was kidnapped, taken to a remote wooded area, beaten and almost pushed off a cliff because she is a lesbian.
CBS News reported:
“The incident happened on April 16, a national Day of Silence intended to raise awareness about bullying and harassment due to sexual orientation. Cheyene Williams’ (the victim) mother believes that is what was at the root of the attack.
“School officials said the Day of Silence anti-violence event Friday, promoted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, did spark some controversy on campus. While some students wore stickers in support of the observance, others protested the event by wearing stickers that said ‘Gay is not the way.’ It wasn’t clear which side of the debate the three suspects were on.
“Ashley N. Sams, 18, of Annville, and Corrine M. Schwab, 18 of Sandgap, were arrested and charged with kidnapping and attempted murder. A third 17-year-old girl was also charged in connection with the attack but those charges, and her name, are being withheld because she is a juvenile.”
“It is a hate crime,” the mother of the victim, Dee Johnson, told the Lexington Herald-Leader. Johnson also claimed her daughter videotaped part of the attack on her cell phone, proving this incident was motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation, and that video has been turned over to police as evidence.
The FBI defines a hate crime, or bias-related crime, as an offense motivated, in whole or in part, by bias based on race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or ethnicity/national origin.
The FBI notes the presence of bias alone does not mean a crime can be considered a hate crime. “Only when law enforcement investigation reveals sufficient evidence to lead a reasonable and prudent person to conclude that the offender’s actions were motivated, in whole or in part, by his or her bias, should an incident be reported as a hate crime,” states the FBI’s website.
Honestly, what does an attacker have to do to make an incident legally a hate crime if these incidents are not considered as such? It seems as if the real bias-related crime is the police failing to treat these incidents as what they truly are – violent acts motivated by a person’s identity that are being used to threaten, intimidate and violate not only the victims but everyone in that identity group.
UPDATE: Attorney’s defending the alleged attackers are now calling this a “staged incident,” in which Williams was a willing participant.
Williams will not finish out the remainder of the school year to ensure her safety.