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Home vandalism stirs alarm in Jackson, TN; incident viewed as ‘hate crime’

 

Racial epithets amid high dollar vandalism alarms citizens, but not police

The NAACP Logo-ColorVandalism of a Dorothy Cove home in Jackson has caused alarm and distress. The Jackson Police Department (JPD), is investigating the vandalism as a property crime. The damage has been estimated at between $8,00 and $10,000. However the Jackson-Madison County Branch of the NAACP has said it views the incident also as a hate crime. Police have not denied that racial epithets were found at the home last Tuesday, as part of their investigation.

Harrel Carter, president of the Jackson-Madison County NAACP Branch issued a press statement denouncing the hate crime. He based the characterization on the presence of racial epithets found in the home on Dorothy Cove. Carter held a press conference in the lobby of the Jackson Police Department, 234 Institute St.

Carter said that the local branch “denounces the racial epithets” found last Tuesday in a Dorothy Cove home once rented to a black family. Jackson Police Capt. Gerry Campbell said that JPD is still investigating the vandalism as a property crime. “We are investigating it as an aggravated vandalism,” he said. “We are reaching out to people in the community to see if anyone has any information on what happened.” Campbell added, “We think it is someone in the neighborhood (who did this), a juvenile, but we are not certain.”

DOJ logoCarter said that the branch has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate the incident as a hate crime. Hate crimes are the special purview of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI defines a hate crime as: “A hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, Congress has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.” Hate itself is not a crime—and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties.” Additionally the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Criminal Section states, “HATE CRIMES (18 U.S.C. § 241, 18 U.S.C. § 245 and 42 U.S.C. § 3631) — Violent and intimidating acts of racial, ethnic and religious hatred that interfere with federally protected rights, such as housing, employment, voting, and public services.”

Joe Thompson, a Memphis real investor who had shown the Dorothy Cove home, said that the house was being leased to a white family from Atwood when the vandalism occurred.

family4.jpg“They have asked for their deposit back,” Thompson said during the press conference. “They said they didn’t want to move into the neighborhood (because of the vandalism.) In fact, they said that they didn’t want to live in Jackson anymore because of the incident.” Thompson has said that the estimated damage to the home was probably between $8,000 to $10,000.

[Information for this story obtained from NAACP newsletter, USDOJ: <www.usdoj.gov/crt/crim/overview.htm> and the FBI: <www.fbi.gov/hq/cd/civilrights/overview.htm>]


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