AP Boosts LGBT Activists' Lament Over 'Rarely Used' Hate Crime Laws

September 28th, 2017 6:39 PM

AP's David Crary filed a slanted report on Thursday that spotlighted the complaints of left-wing organizations regarding hate crime laws that, in their view, are "rarely used to prosecute the slayings" of "transgender" individuals. Crary zeroed in on a murder case in Missouri where " a transgender teen...was stabbed in the genitals." He used the homicide as a jumping-off point to cite several activists, who bemoaned that the "[hate crime] provisions have led to few prosecutions."

The journalist filled his write-up with quotes from the leftist activists, but didn't provide any balance. He mentioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions in passing, but didn't include an excerpt from the top Trump administration official or from the Justice Department.

Crary led his article, "Murder case raises question: Do LGBT hate crime laws work?," with a summary of the organizations' lament: "Each year, for the past three years, LGBT advocacy groups have tallied the killings of more than 20 transgender people in the U.S. Yet state or federal hate crime laws are rarely used to prosecute the slayings." The journalist added that "many LGBT-rights groups are questioning the effectiveness of the laws, saying they sometimes focus too tightly on individual acts without addressing underlying bias or wider violence."

The Associated Press correspondent continued with a short account of the deadly knife attack on Missouri resident Ally Lee Steinfeld. He noted that "investigators insist — without specifying a motive — that...Steinfelds death was not the result of anti-transgender hate."

The writer quoted the local sheriff, who underlined that "you don't kill someone if you don't have hate in your heart...But no, it's not a hate crime." He also disclosed that even with Missouri's hate crime statue, a conviction in the case "probably would not result in a heavier penalty, since first-degree murder is already punishable by execution or life imprisonment."

The Washington Post provided additional details in Steinfeld's murder in a Thursday report, which indicate that passion was a factor in the crime. The teenager had been dating Briana Calderas, one of the suspects in the case. According to law enforcement reports, Steinfeld got into "a physical altercation in early September" with one of the other residents in Calderas' trailer, and the incident was reportedly "the source of the strain." Calderas, the resident, and a third individual living in the trailer have all been charged with Steinfeld's murder, which took place two days after the initial fight.

Crary didn't include this information his report. Instead, he devoted three paragraphs to highlighting the concerns of three separate groups:

Steph Perkins of the Missouri LGBT-rights group PROMO and Jason Lamb of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys said they could not recall any crimes against transgender people that were prosecuted as hate crimes in the state.

On Wednesday, PROMO and the Anti-Defamation League jointly urged prosecutors to examine the possibility that Steinfeld’s murder was a hate crime.

"Not taking those steps conveys a lack of awareness about the transgender community and the threats of violence we live with every day," Perkins said.

The correspondent also pointed out a 2009 federal hate crimes law and how "only last May did those provisions lead to a conviction for the first time." He noted that Attorney General Sessions, in the wake of that case, "publicly vowed to protect the rights of all transgender Americans and said he had directed the Justice Department's civil rights division to review some other cases in which transgender people were killed."

The journalist didn't continue with a quote from the former senator, but with six paragraphs with various critiques from liberal groups.

...[M]ajor LGBT and civil rights groups have been skeptical of Sessions' pledge, noting that the Trump administration has taken other steps to erode transgender people's rights, such as proposing to ban them from military service and rescinding guidelines that would allow transgender students to use the restrooms of their choice at school.

"The department's work in preventing, deterring and responding to hate violence cannot be seen in isolation from its recent counterproductive and discriminatory actions," more than 70 advocacy groups said earlier this month in an open letter....

Crary included two excerpts from additional LGBT activists — "transgender rights lawyer Dru Levasseur of Lambda Legal" and the ACLU's Chase Strangio. The latter (who received the same label as Levasseur) contended, "I worry that what hate crime laws do is narrow our focus on certain types of individual violence while absolving the entire system that generates the violence."

Near the end of his report, the correspondent finally disclosed that "numerous victims were killed by intimate partners, and some were murdered while engaging in prostitution." However, Crary led into this detail by spotlighting that "according to LGBT-rights advocacy groups, 21 transgender people have been killed in the United States so far in 2017 — all people of color except for Steinfeld and one other woman."

He also uncritically emphasized these groups' claim that "there's no question that anti-transgender hatred has fueled many of the killings in recent years, yet activists and social-service professionals say there are multiple factors that make transgender women of color vulnerable."