Military and Police

False ‘Hate Crime’ Reporting Fuels Media Frenzy

“Unless the criminal justice system starts to prosecute false reporting of bias incidents as energetically as they do actual bias crimes, people will grow even more cynical or skeptical when it comes to these stories.”

My wife and I recently went for a hike in a nearby town where everywhere you look you feel as though you’re wandering within a postcard.

We strolled along the boardwalk at a marina overlooking the Olympic mountain range across Puget Sound. As we passed a newspaper vending box, a headline grabbed my wife’s attention. She snatched out a copy of the Edmonds Beacon where the banner read, “FBI notified of Edmonds hate crime.” The article, written by Brian Soergel, describes what is depicted by an accompanying photo of what appears to be a yellow, nylon rope fashioned into a noose and slung over a beam at a building construction site. The article reports that two black employees, a man and a woman, had discovered the rope.

If this incident occurred as reported, and the suspect’s cruel intent was to make an explicit racial threat, then the perpetrator(s) should be fired. Unfortunately (though I could be wrong), since so many of these incidents turn out to be hoaxes, the first word that flashed in my head wasn’t FIRED; it was, FAKE! And that’s what I predicted to my wife would be the final result of the story. Isn’t that sad?

When cops hear or read news stories like this, it’s like musicians listening to music. A musician will pick up a nuanced sour note more easily than the average person. Similarly, when cops gauge bias crime stories, some aspects of a story just strike us as sour notes. In keeping with the music metaphor, something about the story just doesn’t ring true.

Now, absent evidence to the contrary, and even disregarding a cop’s radar (B.S. detector), investigators should proceed as if the incident occurred as the complainant/victim says it did. But while everyone should treat the incident seriously, they should also stay objective until all the facts are known.

The political left has stretched the “hate” boundaries to include anything they say it is.

For example, less than objective was a city councilman’s response to the incident. Perhaps he was misquoted. But according to the Edmonds Beacon article, the councilman “said he is looking into action the City Council can take right away, including prohibiting employers from doing business in the city by denying business/building permits when discriminatory or hateful conduct occurs on their site.” Isn’t he forgetting about a little thing called due process? Or is he just too anxious to prove he hates racism more than other people do?

He wants to penalize business owners who merely happen to have suspected bias incidents occur on their job sites? How about saving punishment for a business owner who, after it’s been proven, has failed to appropriately respond to a credibly reported racist incident? Who gets to decide what is “discriminatory or hateful?” The political left has stretched the “hate” boundaries to include anything they say it is.

When I saw the newspaper photograph of the “noose,” it immediately brought to mind the mock scenes designed for students at police academies. Early in training, instructors create staged “crime” scenes. These early mock scenes are intended to lead student officers by the hand, so they can learn the basics of a proper investigation. As student’s progress, the scenes become more nuanced and difficult in order to enhance their evolving investigative skills.

Doesn’t it seem like nearly every high-profile, alleged racist incident, “hate crime,” is more often than not eventually exposed by law enforcement as a hoax? This brings up some significant societal issues. For example, even if a legitimate racist incident did happen, does that mean the media and leftist groups should indict an entire community?

Society will always, repeat always, include overt and covert racists. Others will turn out to be malicious pranksters who are not racists but twisted people who enjoy the community turmoil and individual pain caused when people suffer the trauma of believing they have been victimized by true racists. These cruel people delight in deceiving their community into believing someone among them has committed a racist act. Isn’t this as bad as committing a true racist act? Shouldn’t it be equally punished?

Law enforcement must investigate these bias incidents, and if evidence so dictates, vigorously prosecute suspects for any criminal actions. When found to be hoaxes, however, the criminal justice system should also investigate, and if evidence requires it, prosecute the false reporters just as vigorously. In my experience, prosecutors don’t go after those who falsely report bias crimes as robustly as they do people who commit racist crimes, if prosecutors even charge fraudulent reporters at all.

You might remember the case of Yasmin Seweid. She was a young Muslim woman who, in 2016, filed a false report claiming she’d been a victim of “Islamophobic racism” (we’ll set aside that being Muslim is not a race) on a New York subway car. Seweid claimed she was verbally accosted by three white, male, Donald Trump supporters, whom she also falsely reported tried to rip her Hijab from her head.

Falsely reporting a racist act diminishes every future victim of true racist criminality.

What ramifications did she suffer for wasting police resources, making New Yorkers look bad by claiming no one on the train had helped her, and for further dividing an already dangerously split America? Three days. Not in jail though. Three days of community service. She was also “sentenced” to six months of … wait for it … counseling.

Doesn’t this lack of tough prosecution of people who perpetrate “hate crime” hoaxes create a motivation to commit future hoaxes and essentially guarantee many more incidents of false reporting?

Falsely reporting a racist act diminishes every future victim of true racist criminality. Every officer I know has had false claims made against him or her either for racism or one of a myriad of other things. I can’t recall even one prosecution of anyone who’s ever made a false claim against any police officer I know. However, I do remember our bosses promising officers over the years, generally, that the city attorney was going to get serious about prosecuting those who make false reports against cops. Apparently, those promises turned out to be false reports.

Leftists argue people will be afraid to report bias crime to the police if they fear they’ll be prosecuted for filing a report. Is it just me, or did they miss the part about “falsely” reporting? How can prosecuting someone who reports a crime that didn’t happen inhibit people from reporting crimes that did happen? This is just classic leftist conflation. As with legal and illegal immigration, apparently there is no difference between true and false reporting. Who knew?

We also have the recent Air Force Academy scandal. A cadet reported finding racist slurs written outside black cadets’ dormitory rooms. As with the Edmonds’ incident above, I immediately told my wife it was fake. Again, that’s what these people who make false reports and their allies in the media are doing to the credibility of anyone who reports a racist crime. Sadly, even those who report incidents that are true.

Investigators found that the Air Force incident was a hoax perpetrated by a black cadet “in a bizarre bid to get out of trouble he faced at the school for other misconduct.” (I couldn’t resist tossing an I-told-you-so at my wife, but she had originally agreed with me, so …) This incident caused a national uproar and provoked a passionate anti-racist speech by a lieutenant general. What amazes me is no matter how often these bias crime reports turn out to be fake, media hounds continue to snatch these hoax bones and then run with them as if they’re the last delicious treats they’ll ever enjoy.

As a retired cop, cynicism is welded into my thinking or, at least, skepticism is. Experience is a thorough, unbiased teacher.

The growing cynicism due to these false reports is taking a firm hold on our society – at least, on those who still think critically and not according to an ideological narrative that waits, salivating, for the next reported bias crime to exploit. As a retired cop, cynicism is welded into my thinking or, at least, skepticism is. Experience is a thorough, unbiased teacher.

I don’t like the instinct that makes me hesitate to believe so many bias incident reports. But bias crime hoaxes are so prolific in America, there is actually a fake hate crimes database. It’s most recent entry is the Air Force Academy case, mentioned above. The database currently has 327 entries. Among them, the Duke lacrosse team’s infamous false rape accusation hoax against three team members by an exotic dancer and, not to be outdone, Rolling Stone Magazine’s University of Virginia rape hoax debacle.

The worst part of this situation isn’t the hoaxes themselves, made by either malicious, mischievous, or simply stupid individuals. The worst part is the complicity of a leftist media that is only too happy to charge forward declaring how racist America still is, only to relegate the hoax portion of the story to an inner page notation – if that – when the police inevitably discover the truth.

Unless the criminal justice system starts to prosecute false reporting of bias incidents as energetically as they do actual bias crimes, people will grow even more cynical or skeptical when it comes to these stories. Society will suffer as a result, but, even worse, true victims of racism will suffer most of all from a lack of credibility they don’t deserve.

 

Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens Contributor and retired Seattle police officer. He has served as a field training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and as a precinct mountain bike coordinator. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys riding his Harley and hiking and biking with his wife who is also an English major and a retired firefighter.

Join the conversation!

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.