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Crime News: Paris TX Protests and the Pending Death Penalty for Hate Crime Law

Perhaps you’ve seen some of the news reports from Paris, Texas, about simultaneous demonstrations planned by the New Black Panther Party and the Ku Klux Klan after murder charges were dropped by the authorities against the two white men accused of killing a black man by running him over by a truck and then dragging him. The Nation of Islam and the Concerned Citizens for Racial Equality were also rumored to be attending.

Why were the charges dropped?

The special prosecutor in the case stopped the prosecution of the two men after a truck driver came forward, hat in hand so to speak, to say that he may be the one responsible for McClelland’s death. He thinks that he may have run over McClelland with his big rig. That, plus the lack of evidence the district attorney had in his file to support the charges….

What happened?

The victim, Brandon McClelland, and the two accused men, Shannon Finley and Charles Crostley, were buddies. Seems that on the night he died, Brandon McClelland was on the road, walking home, after he and his buddies went on a beer run and then had a disagreement over whether or not Shannon Finley was too drunk to drive.

Friends. These guys were friends.

Guess none of them would have been too welcome in any of these organizations planning demonstrations what with their having friends crossing the race barrier but that’s just something to ponder.

And another thing to ponder: given that they were pals, this doesn’t appear to be the Hate Crime that so many are trying to label it, with cries of Paris, Texas, being another Jasper. Because a lot of folk were trying to tag this case a hate crime regardless of the underlying facts.

Hate Crime May Get the Death Penalty if Pending Federal Law Passes

Meanwhile, up in the U.S. Congress, they’re considering hate crimes right now. Last week, an amendment to the Department of Defense fiscal authorization bill for 2010 was passed by the U.S. Senate, named “the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act.”

Many say it’s almost certain to become law because it has been tied to a budgetary bill, and there’s lots of controversy surrounding whether or not the Act should pass.

If it becomes law, it will allow the death penalty for those found guilty of hate crimes if certain circumstances are met. And it will continue a worrisome pattern of what’s been labelled the “federalization of crime” — many prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys across the country are concerned that state and local laws are being strategically supplanted by federal statutes, when the state laws have been working just fine.

For more info:

Philadelphia Inquirer
http://www.philly.com/inquirer/opinion/20090722_Hate_bill_threatens_innocent.html

Associated Press
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iEd4gkmPTRz0bjlbfvhhTw2C0aLQD99ITP180


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