Hate crimes

Are Trump Fans a Protected Class? Maryland Cops Charge Teens Who Burned Trump Sign With a Hate Crime

Cops say the 19-year-old women violated a state law against harassment based on "race, color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or national origin."


Deborah Gates/Delmarva Daily Times

In the ever-expanding category of things considered "hate crimes" we can now place political disagreement.

Last week, two young women in Maryland were arrested after allegedly setting fire to a pro-Trump sign hanging near a shopping center. The women—D'Asia Perry, 19, and Joy Shuford, also 19—acted on "political differences with the billboard postings" and were charged with second-degree arson and several counts of malicious destruction of property, according to the state Fire Marshal's Office. They were also charged for violating Maryland's statute against crimes committed "because of another's race, color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or national origin."

By committing arson "with discrimination or malice toward a particular group, or someone's belief," Perry and Shuford earned the hate-crime designation, according to Deputy Chief Fire Marshal Caryn L. McMahon. In charging documents from Princess Anne police, officers wrote that "the intentional burning of these political signs, along with the beliefs, religious views and race of this political affiliation, directly coincides with the victim."

The arson charge makes sense—the Trump sign was private property (it belonged to Robert Wink, who owns a sporting goods store in the shopping strip) and the blaze did get a bit out of control, according to firefighters. Vegetarion nearby caught on fire, causing an estimated $800 in damage, they say.

But a hate crime? That's where this story gets sticky. The government is effectively saying that having any political motive for doing something is as deplorable as doing it out of racism, misogyny, or hatred of LGBT people.

For a number of reasons, libertarians (myself included) tend to oppose categorically harsher treatment of offenses motivated on "hate," which has always been a slippery topic to get a legal hold on. But at least the typical criteria for labeling something a hate crime are easy enough to understand—these are offenses motivated by animosity toward a particular identity category (like race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation) that we consider either innate/immutable or (in the case of religion) at least sacrosanct.

What would it mean to add "political persuasion" to these categories? For one thing, any political disagreement that turned nasty could be classified as a hate crime, leaving the offender(s) open to much more severe penalties than they would face for a solo charge of something like assault or harassment. Are there people out there who really think this is desirable, making crimes of political passion especially heinous?

And of course the possibilities for authoritarian abuse are tremendous. Political protesters arrested for minor offenses could have hate-crime enhancements thrown at them. Any act of civil disobedience would immediately become a hate crime.

Several states have already moved to make cops a class protected by hate-crime statutes. In Louisiana, for instance, resisting arrest could now be considered a hate crime, as C.J. Ciaramella noted here in January.

It's unlikely the people who first pushed for hate-crime laws would be happy with where they've headed. But as always, when you give police and prosecutors more power—even under the guise of good intentions—it's always the people who lose.

NEXT: Killing Bill O'Reilly

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  1. More likely this is just the SOP of the cops producing a huge stack of potential charges prosecutors can send someone to court over, or the suspect can waive their right to a trial and plead guilty to some lesser offense.

    1. It is only funny to me. If it is someone’s property, then a crime has been committed.

      If this were a Hillary sign under the exact same circumstances, these people would have been brought under a kangaroo court and hung.

      Of course the real answer is to reduce the power of our scary ass cops and our deep state to include our crazy ass legal system and duplicate laws.

  2. There is no such thing as a hate crime. Maybe making everyone a protected class will help eliminate the stupid notion that there should be protected classes.

    1. The laws of the USA and most of the states didn’t get your memo.

      I say, as long as there are hate crime laws, let the people who whooped for them suffer some of the consequences.

  3. Now, how to they know this is motivated by hate as opposed to, say, mild annoyance or just being an asshole?

    1. It’s a love crime, because the perpetrators loved doing it.

  4. In before all the glibbers come in to claim that, while they’re “totally against hate crimes”, they insist that hate crimes against Trump supporters be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But they’re totally not Trump fans themselves or anything. Oh no. And certainly not just Republicans who smoke pot and hate the cops. Oh no no no. They’re the “real libertarians” dontchaknow.

    1. That comment was a pretty big waste of space

      1. Sad thing is, he’s so slow that he didn’t come close to ‘in before’.

      2. Sad thing is, he’s so slow that he didn’t come close to ‘in before’.

  5. libertarians (myself included)

    Oh, Lizzy. SMDH

    1. I mean, she isn’t a true libertarian – one of the chosen few, if you will – like I am.

      1. You shouldn’t use “chosen”, that’s the old Japanese colonial name. I don’t know what the modern Korean name for Korea is, and it probably differs in north and south.

    2. It was comic relief. Geez

  6. No objection to the morbid insanity of this standing as some sort of ‘hate’ crime but one can barely contain a sliver of temporary glee over Antifa largely-Communist grubs squealing and wriggling under the cumbersome wheels of heavy-handed governmental tactics.

  7. They were also charged for violating Maryland’s statute against crimes committed “because of another’s race, color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or national origin.”
    In charging documents from Princess Anne police, officers wrote that “the intentional burning of these political signs, along with the beliefs, religious views and race of this political affiliation, directly coincides with the victim.”

    I don’t get it.

    1. That’s because you ain’t a trained peace officer.

      1. It’s true – my application was rejected after they found out I had external genitalia.

        1. …in a jar in your closet, is the end of that sentence.

  8. Burning politicians in effigy is a right given to me as an American by my Creator and one which no other authority can remove.

    Having said that, this is more an environmental crime than a hate one. I mean, all those carbons being released into the ether? Gaia weeps.

  9. I hate hate crime bullshit, ha ha, but part of me figures it won’t go away, so I may as well laugh when those who favor it get stuck with it. Yes, if I had the choice, I would abolish hate crime legislation. But if I had the choice to throw out just these particular hate crime charges? No, I’d leave them in place, because (a) it’s no fair, and useless, to drop just one instance, and (b) I do have enough cynical thirst for revenge on social justice warriors in general, and hate crime aficionados in general, that I enjoy seeing them hoist on their own petard.

    1. You must have more than a passing familiarity with these young ladies if you know their positions on hate crimes.

      1. Of course! No doubt someone will accuse me of being a Trump supporter, or hater, and therefore I know all.

    2. This is textbook on how strict enforcement can end bad law.

  10. Political ideology is no different than religious ideology. There is no reason why one should be covered and the other isn’t. Hate crime laws are so stupid.

  11. Arson for political purpose would seem to qualify as terrorism and not a hate crime

  12. “Should Trump supporters be a protected class?”

    If they have gay sex, Reason says yes. Those of us not seeking to suck-up to the people at Salon, though, think the concept of a protected class, in general, is asinine.

    1. Salon has been left with Facebook commenters. Moms with dogs. Very depressing.

  13. Democrats often claim opposition to their preferred policies is racist because their supporters are disproportionately non-white. If we look through parties to skin color I don’t see why we shouldn’t do the same with the candidate. Live by sword die by the sword.

  14. I never imagined hate crime legislation could be abused. Color this commenter surprised.

  15. But a hate crime?

    hoist by their own retard.

  16. “Vegetarion nearby caught fire”

    That’s the protected class right there.

  17. Please don’t call 19 year olds ‘teens’. This isn’t porn – in the rest of the reality a 19 year old is a full-on adult and should not be lumped in to a class term that’s used to describe people who are in between children and adulthood.

    She can sign contracts, hold down a job, go around the world and kill people for the government, and is considered otherwise a fully-autonomous moral agent and should be afforded the dignity of one.

  18. ,blockquote>The government is effectively saying that having any political motive for doing something is as deplorable as doing it out of racism, misogyny, or hatred of LGBT people.

    Well, it *is*. As in no more, nor no less deplorable.

    But then again, I don’t consider ‘hate crime’ to be real crime.

    1. It is odd to see an ostensible libertarian concede that government should be judging crimes more worthy of punishment due to any philosophical motivations.

  19. Hey! Remember when you said we were all jumping the gun with our anecdotal evidence? and to prove it you used exclusively anecdotal evidence? well, enough time has passed that long term trends are starting to emerge.

    If only the title of this article had been “there is no proof yet of trump-inspired crime wave” which was true at the time that you wrote it.

    Instead you had to contradict yourself by dismissing anecdotal evidence for being anecdotal and then exclusively relying on it to foil the hypothesis that Trump’s influence would cause more hate crime to occur. But it seems like it is…

    I’ve linked to two articles showing an increase in the organization and active recruiting of white supremacist groups, as well as a rise in domestic terror attack.

    You can’t make the argument that people shouldn’t jump the gun and assume something is happening while jumping the gun yourself and assuming it is not.

    I’ve thought a lot about this article, I hope in time you print a retraction or correction.



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