School bus vandalism a hate crime

October 20, 2017

I am disappointed with the Gazette's reporting ("Police investigate vandalism," Oct. 16), and the police department's and Cape Henlopen School District's responses to the act of "vandalism" of a Cape Henlopen school bus. My disappointment is the failure of anyone to call it what it actually is.

This is not mere "reprehensible behavior," nor is it a mere act of vandalism. This is a hate crime.

Per the FBI website ( "A hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity."

I am not suggesting there is any sort of surreptitious effort on anyone's part to minimize the severity of the crime, but a failure to call it out for what it really is - a racially motivated hate crime - serves to minimize and normalize racist or other prejudicially motivated acts in our community, criminal or otherwise.

The Gazette, the school district, and the police should explicitly identify hate crimes and condemn such crimes with no ambiguity.

Derek Cole


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