NEWS FROM THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY
2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 100
Washington DC 20037
World Wide Web: http://www.LP.org
For release: February 21, 2000
For additional information:
George Getz, Press Secretary
Phone: (202) 333-0008 Ext. 222
New study: Blacks are twice as likely to be charged with a
WASHINGTON, DC -- A grisly murder in Texas has confirmed what Libertarians suspected
all along: Hate crime laws are being used to punish African-Americans at a dramatically
higher rate than racist white criminals.
"If black Americans thought that hate crime legislation would protect them against racist
whites, they were sadly mistaken," said Steve Dasbach, Libertarian Party national director.
"Instead, hate crime laws are apparently being used as another legal weapon to prosecute
The hate-crime issue has been thrust back into the national spotlight because of a
controversial San Antonio, Texas case.
Early this month, an 18-year-old black man went on a bloody crime spree, attacking two
elderly white men and bludgeoning an 82-year-old woman to death. The suspect, Obie
Weathers, was arrested on February 15, and reportedly told police, "I hate all white
Prosecutors are now investigating the case as a possible hate crime, which puts Obie
Weathers in a fast-growing category of criminals: African-Americans who face extra-long
prison sentences because they violated state or federal laws that punish "racist" thoughts.
While such laws were touted as a way to protect minorities against violent white racists, the actual result has been the exact opposite, noted Dasbach:
Blacks are twice as likely as whites to be charged with a "hate crime."
According to data from a National Crime Victimization Survey, published by the U.S.
Department of Justice, only 2,336 whites were charged with anti-black "hate" crimes in 1997,
while 718 blacks were charged with anti-white crimes.
Adjusting for the fact that blacks make up just 13 percent of the population, they were statistically
twice as likely as whites to face prosecution for hate crimes.
"It's another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences: Legislation designed to punish
white racists has wound up condemning more blacks to prison to serve longer sentences,"
said Dasbach. "Perhaps the politicians who wrote hate-crime laws were well-intended. But
when it comes to the impact these laws have on African-Americans, the road to prison is
apparently paved with good intentions."
The fact that Libertarians have profound concerns about the benefits of hate crime laws, said
Dasbach, doesn't mean they are insensitive to racism, or tolerant of violent crime.
"If Obie Weathers is guilty of the crimes he has been charged with, he should be punished,"
he said. "Murder is murder and assault is assault -- it doesn't matter if Obie Weathers'
motives were generic hate or racist hate. He should be prosecuted for his actions, not for his
In other words, Libertarians believe that people who commit the same crime should get the
same punishment, regardless of the race of their victim, said Dasbach.
"Crimes against a certain protected class of citizens should not be treated more seriously than
crimes against anyone else," he said. "To do so is un-American, and a violation of equal
justice under the law. It also creates the ironic situation we now face: Laws that were
supposed to stop racism apparently have racist consequences -- making hate crime laws
themselves a hate crime against African-Americans."