Is it time to treat the beating deaths of homeless people as hate crimes?
In Canada, hate crimes are offences, "motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor." (This definition has evolved out of the Criminal Code sections for Hate Propaganda and the Purpose and Principles of Sentencing.)
It seems like a flexible enough definition. And I think the application could be made in the recent beating death of Edmonton’s Russel Ross.
As reported in today’s Journal, there is some fog around just why the charges of assault are still in play. Now that Russel has died I expect the charges will be upgraded to manslaughter.
But why not, at the same time, designate this death as a "hate crime?" In effect, that’s what it was. The other reason the application should be made is because hate crimes are viewed by the public as far more serious, and there is always heightened interest in a successful prosecution.
I think the merciful thing here is to shine a stronger light on all violence, and particularly on violence of an exposed and vulnerable group.