Splitting hairs

The Hook quoted Charlottesville mayor Blake Caravati as saying that the words "hate crimes" do not appear in Virginia statutes [News, “White Sheets,” 2/28/02]. That struck me as remarkable, so I looked it up. I did not have to look very hard. Right in the index, I found the heading "Hate Crimes." The very first entry was a reference to Chapter 4, article 4, section 18.2-57 which deals with assault and battery. In relevant part, it states

B. However, if the person intentionally selects the person against whom an assault and battery resulting in bodily injury is committed because of his race, religious conviction, color, or national origin, the person shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony, and the penalty upon conviction shall include a mandatory minimum term of confinement of at least six months, thirty days of which shall not be suspended, in whole or in part.

I suspect that had the races of the culprits and the victims been reversed, both Caravati and the prosecutor Dave Chapman might not have had so much trouble finding that law.

Emmett Boaz

Stanardsville

 eboaz@aol.com