Hate Crime Rhetoric Not Supported by Facts

Arab-American girl in 2009 fight to be sentenced next week

Last September, the start of the Ann Arbor Public Schools academic year was marred by news of a fight described as an attack on an Arab-American girl.

Street sign at Hollywood and North Maple in Ann Arbor

An incident last year at Hollywood and North Maple in Ann Arbor was originally described by some as a hate crime against an Arab-American girl. Instead, the girl was charged with disorderly conduct, and recently found guilty by a jury.

The episode prompted a media blitz by the advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations and calls for investigations by state and federal civil rights agencies.

The tenor changed little when the Washtenaw County prosecutor’s office charged the alleged victim, signaling that authorities believed the then-16-year-old shared culpability in the incident.

At the time, Nabih Ayad, a lawyer representing the girl, called the charge “outrageous.”

A jury has disagreed, and later this month the teen will be sentenced on two counts of disorderly conduct.

In all, four young people – then all students at Skyline High School – were charged with crimes related to the incident that began as a school bus dropped students off near their homes on Maple Avenue.

However, Ann Arbor police were unpersuaded by claims that Arab-American teens were the victims of crime motivated by bias. In fact, investigators found evidence that contradicted much of what the 16-year-old Arab-American girl had said about the altercation that left her with an injury reportedly requiring half a dozen sutures.

She was not “jumped” or assaulted by a “mob,” says Beryl Goldsweig, the assistant Washtenaw County prosecutor who tried the case. On the contrary, independent witness accounts suggested the teen was a willing participant or even aggressor in a series of scuffles with another 16-year-old girl, an African-American.

“No one touched her except the one other girl,” says Goldsweig. “It was just a fight between two kids and the jury saw that.”

Ordinarily, the matter wouldn’t be of much interest beyond the families of the young people involved. But in this case, CAIR and Ayad, the girl’s attorney, had raised the profile and the volume:

  • Detroit and local news organizations covered the story of a potential hate crime.
  • The director of the state Department of Civil Rights issued a statement calling on the school district to implement conflict resolution and “cultural competency” programs.
  • “We went to the Islamic center in Ann Arbor to talk with congregants,” says Dawud Walid, who heads the Michigan chapter of CAIR based in Southfield. “They were very concerned.”

“That group got a hold of it and ran with it,” says AAPS spokeswoman Liz Margolis, referring to CAIR.

Ayad and the Council on American-Islamic Relations

Ayad keeps a high profile himself.

A Granholm appointee to the state Civil Rights Commission, he is – according to the commission website – the chairman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Last month, The Arab-American News reported that he hosted a fundraiser for Democratic gubernatorial candidate for governor, Virg Bernero, at his home in Canton.

Nabih Ayad

Nabih Ayad, in a photo printed in the Michigan Dept. of Civil Rights 2009 annual report. Ayad is a member of the state’s Civil Rights Commission.

Ayad was among the plaintiffs in the American Civil Liberties Union 2006 suit against National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program. He also represents the family of Luqman Ameen Abdullah, the imam of a small Detroit mosque who was killed in a raid by federal agents in October 2009.

And he’s a target for critics – like conservative pundit Debbie Schlussel, who peppers her commentary with assertions like, “Islam is not an ethnicity, CAIR – it’s an intolerant cult.”

Ayad represented the Arab-American girl when the disorderly conduct case was heard in juvenile court last month. But he did not respond to repeated Chronicle requests for an interview about the outcome of the case or the rhetoric around it.

CAIR’s Dawud Walid did.

“Any time a constituent is saying their child was assaulted and was called names, and had her head scarf ripped off, it’s sufficient premise for us to ask to have it investigated as a potential hate crime,” Walid says.

The possibility that someone involved in an altercation might be less than truthful is problematic, he allows. “That’s why the facts have to be discerned and why we asked for it to be investigated as a possible hate crime.”

However, the facts discerned by investigators – and affirmed by the jurors who last month listened to accounts presented by Ayad and Goldsweig – are not yet reflected in information on CAIR’s website or in any public statement. Instead, the website continues to carry information about the incident that’s largely at odds with the evidence gathered by police and accepted in juvenile court. From CAIR’s website:

On Tuesday [9-8-09], two Ann Arbor Muslim students were assaulted on a school bus by a mob of youth. One of the students, a 16 year old female, had her hijab ripped off and was told “F*** Arabs; they’re dirty.” “Why are you wearing a scarf?!”

Walid does not dispute the conclusions of the 22-page police report that was the foundation of the prosecution case against the teen.

But he declines to address questions about updating or amending material on the website to reflect the outcome of the criminal case. He similarly deflects questions about the potential harm done by alarm that, if one accepts the jury’s conclusion, was unnecessary.

“The major thing we asked for was that this be investigated as a potential hate crime based on what the complainant said. The prosecutor said the facts around case didn’t merit that.

“I wasn’t at the trial,” he says, though, “I’m somewhat familiar with the outcome.”

Yousuf Vaid, president of the Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor, says CAIR does speak for the local Arab-American community. He referred all questions to the organization.

The Investigation: No Mob, No Ethnic Slurs

What investigators found was very different than that CAIR description.

No mob, no slurs. There was a second Muslim student, a brother of the girl in the eye of the storm. But his involvement didn’t come until long after the Skyline High School students had left the school bus that was bringing them home to North Maples Estates, on the city’s northwest side.

Here’s what did take place, according to authorities. (It is, again, a version Ayad failed to upend in court and declined to discuss for this story.)

There were hostilities brewing on a school bus. The driver got those involved to settle down.

Map detail of North Maple and Hollywood in Ann Arbor

Map detail of North Maple and Hollywood in Ann Arbor. North Maple is the four-lane road running north/south on the right side of this map. (Links to larger image)

When the bus reached a regular stop on North Maple Avenue and Hollywood, the Arab-American girl got off. Her foe, an African-American girl then also 16, was much farther back in the bus, the driver told authorities.

“The bus driver estimated it took the second girl 15 to 30 seconds to work her way forward and disembark,” says Goldsweig, the assistant prosecutor. The Arab-American girl could have started to walk home but apparently chose to wait for the other girl to leave the bus.

“There’s no way the other girl pulled off the hijab (or head scarf) as the Arab-American girl was exiting the bus, as she claimed,” says Goldsweig. “They were nowhere near one another at that point.”

Once on the street, though, the two began to fight.

“It was two girls fighting,” says the assistant prosecutor. “They were pulling on each other, pulling hair. That’s when the head scarf must have come off.”

A passing driver saw the fight and shouted at the girls to stop.

That driver, who became a witness, provided information about an injury the Arab-American girl had suffered at that point and about subsequent behavior that helped police unravel the story.

The driver was a “good Samaritan,” says Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brian Mackie. The woman was also a disinterested party who therefore made a credible witness, says Mackie, who’s part of the Michigan Alliance Against Hate Crimes.

The fight did, in fact, stop.

The African-American girl left the bus-stop area, heading down Hollywood to Vine Street and a well-worn footpath that serves as an alternate route to North Maple Estates.

The Arab-American teen then pursued her.

“The Arab-American started to walk down Maple Avenue toward home,” says Goldsweig. Then, according to witness accounts, the teen threw her books on the ground and went the other way, following the other girl.

Another fight began.

This time, two boys – then age 15 – put their hands on the Iraqi-American girl’s brother, also 15, apparently to prevent him from aiding his sister.

Those youths, both African American, were charged with assault.

The girls were charged with two counts each of disorderly conduct, misdemeanors. The African-American girl entered a guilty plea, which led to the dismissal of one of the charges.

The Arab-American girl wanted a jury trial. That took place last month. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug 19. The sentence will likely be community service, fines and fees, and an order to stay of trouble, says Goldsweig.

Other assertions about adult involvement or the Arab-American girl being “dragged” to a home were simply unfounded, says Goldsweig, who also prosecuted the duo charged with assaulting the Arab-American boy.

“The young lady couldn’t keep her story straight,” says Goldsweig. “She talked about going down the footpath to find her headscarf when it had come off near the bus stop. She said the African-American girl’s mother was responsible for the cut on her head, but the witness in the car saw the injury back at the bus stop and actually called out to the girl that she was bleeding.”

Three police officers testified at the trial. Several others had also worked on the case.

Hate Crimes: A Broader View

Michigan’s law on hate crime, or ethnic intimidation, dates to 1988. It adds to the penalty in cases where an offender is found to have committed a crime motivated in whole or in part by bias against a race or national origin, religion, sexual orientation, mental/physical disability or ethnicity.

The state regularly has one of the highest incidences of reported cases (726 in 2008 and 914 in 2007), perhaps due to reporting practices.

“Accurate data collection of hate crimes depends heavily on proper training of law enforcement to recognize such incidents and the cooperation and desire of communities/victims to report these incidents to law enforcement.” –Michigan Incident Crime Reporting

Bias against African Americans is the most prevalent of the reported crimes.

Recent reports also include crimes based on bias toward lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgendered people; Hispanics; members of the Jewish and Islamic faiths; and those of other, unspecified, ethnicity and national origin. Anti-white bias accounted for more than 20% of the incidents statewide in 2008. [.pdf files of 2007 and 2008 Michigan hate crime reports]

Chart showing 2008 bias crimes in Michigan

This chart shows a subset of 2008 hate/bias crimes in Michigan: Incidents that took place at residences. Of the 252 incidents reported, 52 involved neighbors.

In Washtenaw County, there were 38 reported hate or bias incidents in 2007 and 24 in 2008, the most recent years data is available. That’s one incident per every 9,149 county residents in 2007 and one in every 14,487 residents in 2008. Statewide, the incidences for those years were one per 10,904 and one per 13,732 residents, respectively.

In Washtenaw County, African-American and LGBT residents were most often the targets of such crimes. Members of those groups represented more than 60% of the victims in 2007 and 75% in 2008.

There was a single report of an anti-Islamic bias crime in Washtenaw County during those two years. Statewide there were seven anti-Islamic incidents in 2007 and 20 in 2008.

The reports include a category of bias toward other, unspecified, ethnicity and national origin. There were two during the two-year period in the county; 31 over the two years statewide.

Arrests are more rare than incidents.

There were no ethnic intimidation charges in 2009 or 2010. There were four in 2008, one in 2005, two each in 2004, 2002 and 2001, and one in 2000, said Brian Mackie, the county prosecutor.

A small number of incidents in the data sets were crimes against a business or institution rather than an individual.

Nabih Ayad, the attorney representing the Arab-American girl in last year’s incident, had called for a U.S. Justice Department investigation. The department’s Civil Rights Division declined comment. A spokesman says the division’s general rule is not to discuss possible complaints.

The state Civil Rights Commission bowed out because Ayad, a member of the commission, was representing the Arab-American family, says spokesman Harold Core. “That’s done to avoid any conflict of interest.”

Reflections a Year Later

The so-called Skyline incident leaves city residents like Leslie Krauz Stambaugh with mixed emotions.

“I was so disturbed when I heard about it last fall,” says Stambaugh, chairwoman of the city’s Human Rights Commission. “I imagined a demur young girl with her head scarf pulled off.”

(In contrast, the school bus driver told authorities the girl left the bus telling the other girl she would “beat your ass” and other obscenities.)

“I’m glad to know that didn’t happen,” says Stambaugh, “but it doesn’t mean there aren’t serious problems out there.”

The city commission had no role in reviewing the episode. Its task is to advise the city council, focusing on trends rather than individual cases, she says. But commission members are also working to create a “community response group” that could offer assistance to police, victims or others in the community.

Coordinated by the commission, the fledgling group is a network of organizations including local schools, the NAACP, sheriff’s department, Dispute Resolution Center, University of Michigan’s Department of Public Safety and others.

“We’ve been working on this for a while. The idea would be to find out what’s going on and what resources might be helpful without taking sides,” says Stambaugh. “I can also see that we need to think about getting accurate information out… and how to be as sure as possible of what’s accurate.”

That would undoubtedly suit Ann Arbor schools’ spokeswoman Liz Margolis.

“We have many programs that teach tolerance and understanding and different cultures starting in elementary school,” she says. They’re part of the curriculum and the focus of special programs and events.

More than 70 languages are spoken in the school district, Margolis notes.

But after last year’s start-of-school fight, she said, “we were looked at as not doing anything about it.”

Indeed, a headline based on then-state Department of Civil Rights Director Kelvin Scott’s statement about the importance of the district engaging in these issues is featured in the department’s 2009 annual report: “Rights office urges Ann Arbor schools to cool ethnic tensions following beating” – from the Sept. 12, 2009 Detroit News. (Scott died of cancer in February.)

“For us, it was a fighting incident, not ethnic intimidation,” says Margolis.

The same four students later charged with crimes were suspended. The Arab-American family subsequently withdrew from the school, Margolis says. Those children had not previously attended Ann Arbor schools.

Setting aside this particular incident, Michigan continues to be in the top five on the FBI’s annual hate crime report, observes Stambaugh, currently fourth behind California, New Jersey and New York. “That tells me there’s plenty to worry about, but we’re interested in easing tensions, not adding to them over things that, in hindsight, appear to be unfounded.”

Mackie is more blunt: “A great disservice was done to the people the advocates involved say they want to help. This is an example of people who fit things into a narrative that matched their world view and weren’t interested in looking any further.

“I can sum up the lesson from this in two words,” he says, “Shirley Sherrod.”

Sherrod is, if course, the African-American woman fired from a top-level job in the U.S. Agriculture Department when Obama administration officials acted on what appeared to be anti-white bias in a video clip – without looking at the entire video for context or talking to Sherrod. A public apology followed.

“If we did our business in that fashion,” the prosecutor observes, “the world would be a scary place.”

About the writer: Judy McGovern lives in Ann Arbor. She has worked as a journalist here, in Ohio, New York and several other states.


  1. By MT
    August 15, 2010 at 7:14 am | permalink

    There’s no question that Muslim-Americans need civil rights organizations to represent their interests. And there’s no question that Muslims deserve much better than CAIR. CAIR’s relentless grandstanding and and mudslinging gets attention, but it’s also an embarrassment to the community. Thankfully there are other organizations, such as the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who seem to be taking a more reasonable and effective approach to representing Muslims. Let’s hope that CAIR will soon follow MPAC’s example.

  2. By Karen Moorhead
    August 15, 2010 at 9:03 am | permalink

    Judy thank you for this follow up article. I am glad to read the outcome, although it is still disturbing. I thought it was a hate crime, but this explains a very different story.

  3. By EO
    August 15, 2010 at 10:16 am | permalink

    The Arab-American girl who falsely accused the African-American girl should be charged with the hate crime. After all, she was only able to do this because her opponent was a different race and/or religion. At 16 years of age, children are plenty savvy enough to understand and manipulate politics, including claiming to be victims of “hate” crimes. Thank goodness that Americans are starting to wake up and see the truth.

    Based on the information in the article, though, I don’t understand why the two 15-year-old, African-American males were charged with a crime. It seems like they were trying to prevent an escalation of violence, which is exactly what any responsible, able-bodied person should do. Their actions seem to have been limited to restraining another potential combatant from joining the fray. There is apparently no complaint that they displayed any ethnic or religious rancor toward the boy they restrained.

    Good people stand ready to preserve public order, even if it sometimes requires them to physically intervene to maintain or restore the peace until the police arrive and take over. These two young men were being good American citizens when faced with an incident that was probably rather frightening to them. They should be praised for their quick actions that probably prevented much more serious injuries to at least one of the girls, but instead they were charged with a crime. Is this the sort of message you want to send your children?

  4. August 15, 2010 at 11:27 am | permalink

    This was a very well-written article on a very difficult subject. I read it over two times and I’m still not really understanding why the two African-American boys were charged with assault. Is there more to that story? IIRC from law school days gone by, assault is when you (by words or actions) create the apprehension of harm in someone; battery is the actual harm. If those two boys were just holding back the one girl’s brother…what’s the problem? I hope they didn’t get into legal trouble if that’s all they were doing.

  5. By Agha Ali Arkhan
    August 15, 2010 at 1:04 pm | permalink

    I find interesting the idea that CAIR used the human rights angle to try to condemn the African-American girl who probably would have had a hard time trying to defend herself in a Human Rights court, never mind the financial cost to her family. In some places, “plaintives” can institute a charge, then walk away leaving the accused to foot the bill for defence.

  6. By Hat_Y
    August 15, 2010 at 5:22 pm | permalink

    This article is playing sides.

    It’s nice to read details on this, but your relying too much on what the court heard. Sometimes the truth does not come out in court.

    Anyway, lets all move on, its just a school fight.

  7. August 16, 2010 at 10:52 am | permalink

    It seems like we have developed a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to whenever an Arabic individual is involved in some sort of altercation, we automatically assign them the role of innocent victim even when we don’t know the facts yet.

  8. By ScratchingmyHead
    August 16, 2010 at 12:36 pm | permalink

    I, for one appreciate Judy McGovern for providing an update on this incident which happened almost a year ago. At the time, the African American youth were condemned as the aggressors, vilified in public and it was automatically assumed they were guilty. There was no organizations from the community, including the NAACP that came to their defense, only individuals who recognized the potential injustice that was being committed against them. Its unfortunate that any of these young African Americans, especially the males who tried to intervene in a positive way to prevent an escalation of this incident had to be criminally charged and placed under the supervision of the juvenile court. In my point of view, the real hate crime was committed by this young Muslim women, with the support of CAIR and the Michigan Civil Rights Commission and her family, who acting on accepted stereotypes lied about the events which transpired because she felt that her version would automatically be accepted. If I were the parents of these young people, I would sue the young Muslim women, her family, CAIR and the MCRC.

  9. By Carl
    August 16, 2010 at 1:29 pm | permalink

    I think this case is a best practice of how poltical groups need NOT get invoved with every case they think promotes their agenda. Initially, many people said “it was just a fight” and this excellent story confirms that …the groups with an agenda care little about the facts – only pursuing their own agenda! Modern media give them waaay to much credibility by inlcuding their two-cents in every story. This is basically a recent phenomenon; brought on by the PC movement of the 1990s – and amercian journalism led us here.

    fights happen every day in every school in every city in America!

    the fact that this appears to be a run-of-the-mill schoolyard fight makes it uniquely American and therefore, normal!

    Now – if we could get the agenda-driven special interest groups to recognize that – wouldn’t this be a better place?

  10. By Dave
    August 16, 2010 at 1:58 pm | permalink

    I agree with several others–this was a typical schoolyard brawl. Fights across ethnic and economic lines were (and will continue to be) commonplace when I went to school, but you didn’t see political action groups like CAIR get involved for the cynical purpose of grandstanding for their cause.

    People need to get over themselves–the whole race thing, all the crazy political rhetoric, etc. When we can do this, we will be strong as a country. As long as people are playing the victim role, we will continue to weaken and divide.

  11. By SMH
    August 16, 2010 at 2:23 pm | permalink

    Like a few comments above me, I’m unsure as well as to why the two young men were charged at all. Seems like that was unnecessary and could have been due to the fact that early on, the case was deemed as a hate crime.

    I feel that political groups always want to get involved when it comes to Arab-Americans and other Muslims nowadays. They feel as though they are heavily targeted, which in many cases, is simply not true.

    Like it was previously stated, fights happen every day. Everywhere. In all schools. Many of which are just personal fights, nothing regarding race or religion. And since the Arab-American girl could not keep her story straight, it is clear that she was lying. The African-American girl was smart, and owned up to her mistake of being guilty for fighting, even though it does seem as if it was self-defense.

    It saddens me that all these political groups decided to get involved and create something that it was not. I believe that the African-American girl and the young boys should take a case up against them for making this into more than it was, and against for the Arab-American girl for lying and try to play a victim when in fact, it seems as though she was the aggressor…

  12. By ScratchingmyHead
    August 16, 2010 at 3:12 pm | permalink

    I am appalled by the comments of the Director of the Human Right Commission that she…”imagined a demur young girl with her scarf pulled off.” What this implies is that she automatically assumed the aggressiveness of the young black girl and other black kids. The Human Rights Commission, just like its current membership roster is out of touch with issues involving human or civil rights and that body needs to be dissolved and reconstituted to include individuals that have a much more universal understanding of issues involving human interaction. The Sheriff and UM Public Safety Department’s role is to arrest not educate, and who knows what the role of the NAACP is. Had it not been for the due diligence of the county’s prosecutor office, a grave injustice would have been committed and the real culprit would have gone unpunished.

  13. August 16, 2010 at 3:24 pm | permalink

    Great article Judy!

    The lesson we should take from this is that there needs to be some discussions or counseling at home, Mosque/Church/Temple and school that promotes tolerance for others that do not look like each other. Where there is one fight, there are probably 100 brewing.


  14. August 16, 2010 at 10:28 pm | permalink

    This is a really excellent piece of reporting; much thanks to both McGovern and the Chron for putting this together and making it available.

  15. By Pamela Behjatnia
    August 16, 2010 at 11:39 pm | permalink

    It is strikes me a stereotyping to imagine that every muslim wearing a head covering is ‘demure.’ That rates with every Amish person is pure or the characters at Disneyland are real. Clothing does not mean people are out of touch with life. It is a symbolic part of a belief system. The human underneath it all remains.

  16. By Stephen Cain
    August 17, 2010 at 11:42 am | permalink

    The purpose of advocacy groups is to advocate, and there is not a minority in the country that has not benefitted from advocacy. Advocacy groups need visibility to maintain themselves, and the temptation to latch onto hot button issues/situations is overwhelming (a phenomenon enabled by the sound-bite media). Sometimes the advocacy groups overreach. That’s when we should be thankful for good reporters who call them on the carpet (Judy) and media outlets that support their work (AA Chronicle). As for the rest of us, we should add our support to advocacy groups that struggle to be both relevant and credible, suspend judgment when that’s not clear, and basically dampen down the emotional heat until the facts are in.

  17. By John Floyd
    August 18, 2010 at 12:22 am | permalink

    Am I the only one who wonders if the criminal courts are really the best place to resolve social and inter-personal issues like this? Clear lines do need to be drawn around violence, but I can’t help but wonder if court involvement has done anything to heal the wounds that both led to and were created by this incident. Is either girl less hate-filled than before? Are their friends and families less hate-filled than before? The use of the courts raised the stakes for both girls and the advocacy industry, but it is not obvious that it has led to any positive outcomes. From Judy’s description, the investigation saved the court from being an even less socially-usefull institution, but did not actually make anything better.

    It strikes me that we use the courts for matters such as this, when community – social networks that connect people, create social norms, and engender some measure of personal forbearance – is weak or non-existant. We need boundaries around violence, but the apparent absence of restraining social networks, and the criminalization of mere archetypally poor adolescent judgement, scare me more than any one particular cat fight, whatever its origin.

    It strikes me that we need wisdom more than Judgements.

    John Floyd
    Republican for Council
    5th Ward

  18. By Font
    August 20, 2010 at 12:04 pm | permalink

    I do not quite understand Floyd’s drift here. He seems to make four complaints: The courts really shouldn’t need to be used here; the advocacy ‘industry’ is bad; the adolescents probably still hate each other; and that community social networks didn’t work well here. I flat out disagree with the first two positions, but the last two have merit.

    The police and courts really had few choices. They had to follow the laws. I am open to the idea that disputes between adolescents could be mediated more efficiently, but for whatever reasons, no such mediation was conducted that prevented this from becoming a police matter. I am also wonder if the adolescents in this case didn’t make poor decisions in court that worsened their legal outcomes.

    McGovern’s article may not have established the ‘absolute Truth’ about this incident, but we now have the official version of this long-running story. Police, courts and prosecutors are far more neutral than some of the other versions of this story that have received wide circulation. As are good Samaritans, bus drivers and school officials. It is fair to believe that everyone has an agenda here, but these stories provide a great deal of balance to the accounts of the adolescents and some of the advocates. Isn’t that what courts are designed to do?

    It is not mere ‘stereotyping’ to wonder if any of the agenda-fueled statements of some participants in this dispute might be true. I see no evidence that public servants such as the Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission or the Police are trading in stereotypes. That is the kind statement disputants were making, and these claims need to be sorted through and the court outcomes do not suggest an uncritical acceptance of them.

    I personally think it is wrong to continue to post claims of mob violence for which there is no shred of credible evidence. But advocates are neither ‘bad’ nor an ‘industry’ for having agendas and publishing their points of view. That is, John, what you and I are doing. We just have different standards of evidence than they do. On the other hand, some advocacy efforts do not seem to have served the Ann Arbor community or the adolescents well in this matter.

    The Prosecutors Office, The Human Rights Commission, and the hate crime community response groups state-wide must sort through these kinds of claims every time an incident occurs. Wild claims abound. The conclusion of this case suggests our public servants’ sophistication, rather than uncritical thinking about the charges of mob violence, hate-speech (as defined by statute), stereotypes and ethnic intimidation that were made here. I think our community has been well-served by their efforts. And this sorting process is an necessary part of building the improved community and social networks I think Floyd is quite right to have called for.

    As for the court intervention: it probably did fail to heal the hatred between two adolescents. Floyd is probably right. It is unlikely that punishment alone has moderated this. But perhaps we can serve as a good example to them if we use this story to build the better social networks that will moderate this kind of dispute in the future. That is going to require listening to points of view that are we do not agree with while trying to find the basis for constructive agreements in the face of these differences. In that, Judy’s article and this thread are a valuable community service. Thanks to all who have worked to bring understanding to this issue

    August 21, 2010 at 12:04 pm | permalink

    @JohnFloyd: I think you make some very cogent points in your post and the one I would like to comment on most is your final comment regarding the use of social networks (organizations) as moderating agents in dispute such as this one. CAIR, for example did exactly what it was suppose to do albeit it failed to gather the appropriate facts as it advocated for one of its constituency. The NAACP on the other hand as an “advocacy” body (for colored people) was totally silent during this controversy neither voicing an opinion of support or non-support. Had it not been for the due deligience approach of the prosecutor’s office, three young African Americans would have been thrown under the bus much like Shirley Sherrod was by the NAACP. The NAACP as part of that social network of organizations you speak of has completely lost touch with its mission as an advocacy body and acts primarily as a ceremonial organization that perpetuates classicism in the African America community. In this case, I am glad the courts got involved otherwise three young African Americans youths would probably be criminalized for as thugs.