Crying Wolf: False Claims Can Hinder Victims of Hate Crimes
There is much need for honest and progressive conversations about anti-LGBT violence. Even though it is 2019 there is still many reports daily about these hate crimes still occurring and it cannot be so casually swept under the rug. But one well known celebrity might have just only added to the increasing difficulty to have these conversations in the United States.
On January 29, actor Jussie Smollett, known for his role on the television show Empire, reported to Chicago Police that he was attacked for being black and gay. According to the report, while walking home from a Subway sandwich shop around 2 am, the actor was beaten and had a rope hung around his neck by two masked men. They also said homophobic and racist remarks to Smollett before fleeing the scene.
Since this incident was reported to have taken place it has been made known by the Chicago Police that Smollett is now being charged with a felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. This being a Class 4, felony Smollett could face a little as probation or up to 1-3 years in prison. Attorneys for Smollett at this time maintain that the actor will mount a “aggressive defense” against these charges.
While problems within the LGBT community have always existed when it comes to the believability of the hate crimes, this incident is just another example of the challenges that can hinder real victims of hate crimes. Many would like to sweep this type of violence under the rug. After the incident initially happened there had been social media posts that already was trying to call it a hoax. People started off on the negative side. If convicted this would just solidify what was already assumed.
What does this mean for the real victims?
Despair and shame. Victims of hate crimes already have fear of coming forward for reasons such as not being heard, being judged or even further consequences for reporting in the first place. If the victims are not reporting what is happening then they can’t receive the help they need. Even if the report was to occur how many times people can cry wolf before the public stops believing in what is really happening? Leaving those that are actually affected to find no path to take.
These hoaxes also discredit those that are sympathizers of hate crime victims. They have to retract their support while not dismissing the real issue of anti LGBT violence in communities.
Our presidential administration has not been very supportive of the LGBT community and after taking office, the executive branch has actually taken several measures to strip the community of nondiscrimination protections including in places like health care, social services, employment etc.
With a lackluster of support from the president and the still pressing need to give protection to the LGBT community, we have a tough time ahead. That doesn’t mean that we avoid the conversation in lieu for the more popular course of just forgetting things don’t exist. We have to have higher standards for how we treat each other.
If you are a victim of, or witness to, a hate or bias-related crime on campus, report it to the University Police by calling 911 in an emergency, using a Blue Light Phone, or campus telephone at (518) 442-3131. You may also report to Community Standards at (518) 442-5501 or firstname.lastname@example.org.