In the nation’s capitol, the number of hate crimes over the past two years has doubled, reaching an all-time high, but the number of hate crime prosecutions has plummeted to nearly zero. And the key reason is U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, a Trump appointee who refuses to prosecute these cases.
In Washington, the number of attacks investigated by police as bias-motivated reached an all-time high of 204 last year. The District had the highest per capita hate-crime rate of any major city in the country, according to Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino.
Yet hate-crime prosecutions in the nation’s capital have plummeted, even as the number of people arrested on those charges … has soared….
In 2017, D.C. police arrested suspects in 59 hate crimes, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. — “which handles most criminal cases in the capital,” the Post notes — only prosecuted three as hate crimes and it later dropped one of the prosecutions.
“Of the 178 suspected hate crimes in 2017,” the Post writes, “police closed 54 cases involving adults by arrest. Prosecutors charged two cases as hate crimes, and both were later dropped as part of plea deals.”
These hate crimes include 27-year-old lesbian Ashly Taylor being shot in the chest by an ex-con co-worker who luridly offered to have sex with her.
Liu says the rise in hate crimes has not gone unnoticed by her office and she claims to have recently hired a second hate crimes coordinator to help with prosecutions. But she hasn’t explained why the prosecutions have dipped under her tenure in the first place.
Some prosecutors avoid pursuing hate crime charges because they add an extra burden of proof on persecutors to show that the attacks were motivated by discriminatory bias, something which can be difficult to prove.
In a recent letter to Liu, U.S. House Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton wrote:
“As you may know, the number of reported hate crimes in the District of Columbia almost doubled between 2016 and 2018. Many of these crimes were targeted at the LGBTQ community, especially transgender individuals. At a recent well-attended community forum, I learned that this community feels it is under siege. I agree. As you are well aware, it takes only a few prosecutions to create a deterrent effect.”
Although Liu was appointed by Trump, Trump only received four percent of the vote in D.C..