2001 — the year in review:
Plenty of hate to go around
The militia movement may have run out of steam, according to experts, but there was plenty of bias-motivated crime to go around in 2001 in the months following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Even prior to those events, hate crimes continued to spring up as isolated, sporadic occurrences nationwide.
In June, a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center described the demise of the extremism movement that had flourished during the 1980s and early 1990s, saying the movement had largely died out as a result of public reaction to the Oklahoma City bombing and the nation’s prosperity at the end of the 1990s. The number of militia and extreme right-wing hate groups, the report said, fell from 858 in 1996 to 194 in 2000. A spokesman for the FBI’s Milwaukee field office likened the decline to that of the anti-Vietnam War movement following the bombing of Sterling Hall at the University of Wisconsin.
“While we didn’t realize it until later, Sterling Hall probably quelled anti-war protests by so-called left wing groups and protesters,” the spokesman said. “[Timothy] McVeigh may have had the same effect on the right. Since the[Oklahoma City] bombing, those groups have been silent. We don’t know of anything going on in Wisconsin.”
FBI statistics released in February found that racism fueled more hate crimes in 1999 than any other type of prejudice, including sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or disability. Of the 7,876 hate-based crimes reported by police that year, 54.5 percent were said to have involved race. Murder based on race also reached an all-time high that year, the bureau said, accounting for nine of 17 bias-related homicides in 1999.
All in all, however, hate crimes from 1997 to 1999 represented less than 1 percent of the 5.4 million crimes reported by local police to the FBI. According to a report released in September by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, crimes against blacks made up 61 percent of the nearly 3,000 offenses. The second most common were offenses based on sexual orientation, which accounted for 14 percent of the total, followed by religious and ethnic prejudice.
In other instances of bias-motivated crimes:
Members of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) were charged in December with plotting to set off pipe bombs at a mosque in Los Angeles and at the office of California State Representative Darrell Issa, whose grandfather was Lebanese. The defendants, Irving David Rubin, 56, and Earl Leslie Krugel, 59, face federal conspiracy and explosive charges. If convicted, they could serve more than 30 years in prison. Agents found several pounds of explosive powder at Krugel’s home, along with fuses, pipes, end caps for making bombs and more than a dozen firearms.
In the days following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a Molotov cocktail was thrown onto the roof of a Somerset, Mass., convenience store believed to be owned by Arabs. Elsewhere, a Pakistani man was beaten by three men in Tulsa, Okla., as he walked into a gas station. A firebomb was thrown at a mosque in Denton, Texas, and an Islamic center in a Cleveland suburb sustained $70,000 worth of damage after a car was driven through its doors.
Springdale, Wash., police in April tried to contain a growing problem of attacks by whites on residents of the Spokane Indian Reservation. While suspects were identified in attacks which caused serious injuries to three victims, in all but one case there was not enough evidence to prosecute the alleged offenders.
Federal agents in December arrested a Syrian-born businessman in Alaska who fraudulently claimed $15,000 in donations after his computer was smashed and the words “We hate Arabs” were spray-painted at his printing company. The man, Nezar Khaled Maad, was found to have lied about the value of his equipment in order to get hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans and leased gear, said a federal prosecutor.
Fort Worth police in June found a cache of anti-government literature, assault weapons, ammunition, bomb-making materials and militia-type equipment following the arrest of man for holding a gun to the head of a White Settlement man. The defendant, Michael Joseph Toth, was turned in by a neighbor.
York, Pa., Mayor Charles Robertson was charged in May with the killing of a black motorist 32 years ago when he was a city police officer. According to grand jury testimony by Rick Knouse, another man charged in the case, Robertson gave him the ammunition used by Knouse to fire at the victim, 32-year-old Lillie Belle Allen.