Hate crimes are nothing new in United States. Usually the victim happens to be someone from a racial minority group like Blacks or Asians. But a shocking case has come to light in Columbus, Georgia, where a white man suffered a brutal assault at the hands of a black teenager due to no other reason but the color of his skin.
Jayvon Hatchett had been in jail before. However, his criminal leanings manifested itself in a most disturbing manner after he watched videos of aggressive police action. The person he targeted is a 25-year old white employee of AutoZone. The victim was initially in critical condition but is now out of danger.
The incident took place on August 25. When the police arrived at the spot to arrest Hatchett, they found him smiling and he also confessed to his crime. In his own words, the 19-year old assailant said that he "felt the need to find a white male to kill."
While the charge of aggravated battery is bound to be leveled against the culprit, it is likely that his actions will also be placed under the category of hate crime. The new law that Georgia has for hate crimes was passed as recently as the month of June. Prior to the Act coming into force, the state was one of just four in the United States without a specific law for such acts.
While the enactment of the aforesaid law was precipitated by the killing of a black man, Ahmaud Arbery, by white men, it covers all crimes that are motivated by the social identity of the victim, be it race, religion, or other categorizations.
Hatchett's case is further weakened by his past criminal conduct. Six months ago, he was arrested for two felonies, one of them aggravated assault. Even at that time, there were concerns about his state of mind and the judge before whom the case was brought had ordered a mental evaluation.
The teenager is already facing another case of assault. In September this year, he, allegedly, assaulted his cellmate in the Muscogee County Jail so badly that he expired.
The incoming District Attorney of Columbus, Mark Jones, said that the latest act of violent crime by Hatchett needs to be treated as a hate crime if the facts of the case, as known now, turn out to be true.
"My thoughts are that if the allegations are true, then defendant should be charged with aggravated battery with a hate crime sentencing enhancement if convicted beyond a reasonable doubt," DA Jones stated. "The reports of the Auto Zone incident are deeply concerning to me because I am committed to reducing violence in our great city," he added.