By: Sally Andarge, Social Media Editor
On November 9, Regis hosted a Hate Crimes Community forum in Claver Hall, room 315. Guest speakers at the forum included a panel of law enforcement officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and the Denver Police Department.
Tensions across our campus are high given the recent white supremacist notes that found their way around campus and the March Against Hate to rise against them. In a moment like this, question of hate crimes are inevitable.The forum was timely following the acts of extreme hate that have occurred on our campus in the past two weeks, impacting community members on and off campus.
The forum kicked off with a few words from Father Fitzgibbons. He called the Regis community to put political difference aside in order to eradicate hate and recognize one another for who we really are.
After his speech, Father Fitzgibbons called the Assistant District Attorney of Denver to give a quick introduction to the history of hate crime law and what exactly constitute a hate crime.
He started by explaining to the audience that there are a series of federally protected classes. Those classes are race, sex, color, religion, national origin, age, and ability. Luckily, Colorado is one of the few states that considers sexual orientation a protected class even though federal law does not. Colorado added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes in 2009.
He then moved on to what constitutes a hate crime. He explained that criminal acts are usually deemed hate crimes when there is evidence of hateful ideology. The example that he gave was the Charleston church shooting, where 21-year-old white supremacist, Dylann Roof, killed nine African American church goers during a prayer service. He explained that it wasn’t deemed a hate crime just because all of the victims were people of color, the evidence that made it a hate crime were his personal journal and social media posts where he had openly racist and white supremacist statements. This allowed them to link his targeted attack on people of color to white supremacist ideology.
It is so unfortunate that in 2018 we still consistently see hate crimes and hate speech. In a time where we find so much progress, alarming events like these still shock us to the reality of deeply founded fear and hate. When faced with these acts as a community, it is critical we understand the law and protections against hate. These events are not isolated to just our campus, in fact, in 2015 there were 107 hate crimes that took place in Colorado alone. We hope that as a community (and eventually as a society) that we will be able to overcome hate.