By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Anna Lushchinskaya was on a crowded Brooklyn subway train recently. In a fit of rage, she shouted racist epithets at, in order, an Asian woman, two Hispanics and anyone else she felt like haranguing. Then she topped off her subway racist rage by physically assaulting the Asian woman.
Though this was clearly a racially motivated hate attack, capped by the physical assault in which her victim required hospital treatment, Lushchinskaya was arrested and released on a paltry $1,000 bond. The amount is even more ludicrous given that she isn’t a first-time racial hate offender.
She was arrested last June for pepper spraying two Hispanics on another Brooklyn subway train. Low bail, immediate release, two vicious racially motivated hate-driven violent assaults all add up to a virtual license to commit more hate acts. Lushchinskaya, an attorney, did just that with the second subway attack.
She is not an aberration. The woods are now filled with accounts of openly racist tirades, hectoring, harangues and violent assaults. Yet, in nearly all cases, the perpetrators skip away with the same low bail, little to no jail time, and a few public shakes of the head at their bad behavior.
It’s easy to chalk this up to President Donald Trump and his near obliteration of the standard public restraints on expressing, or worse, acting out racist sentiments. And while there is much to be said for the dirty, vicious, hate mongering quasi legitimacy he’s brought to the times, that’s only part of the answer to why this is happening.
It takes an act so blatant, grotesque and outrageous as a racially motivated murder before anything remotely resembling the full weight of the law and the full horror of public opinion comes down hard on the violent perpetrator. Even then, there’s still the absolute refusal of law enforcement, most public officials, and much of the general public to connect the dots and see any larger pattern to the acts.
There is still no willingness to unhesitatingly brand the violent racist perpetrators as racial terrorists and their acts racial terrorism.
That’s not all. The woman Lushchinskaya attacked initially expressed her desire to remain anonymous. That’s another problem.
In far too many cases, the victims do not come forth. In fact, the only reason Lushchinskaya was apprehended and she will be on some legal hot seat is because the tape of her tirade and assault went viral. Millions tapes saw it. So that made evasion impossible. But when there’s no tape, what?
Then everyone goes on their merry way.
We see the same pattern with whites who falsely accuse an innocent unsuspecting black as a lawbreaker. There is no consequence for them picking up the phone, dialing 911 and screaming that the innocent, unsuspecting black presents some dire danger to the accuser.
It’s that way because in almost all cases the black victimized by the racist call gives the caller a pass. This pass amounts to a virtual license to get away with it and keep getting away with it.
Civil rights leaders have pounded every presidential administration from Ronald Reagan’s on to radically increase the number of hate crime prosecutions. Yet, unless it’s an extreme case of violence, that hasn’t happened. In fact, it’s been just the opposite.
Hate crime referrals for possible prosecutions have not appreciably risen in the U.S. Justice Department for the past two decades. The White House foot-dragging on hate crimes has nothing to do with racial double standards and everything to do with politics and practicality.
Federal prosecutors have rarely placed much stock in bringing criminal civil rights cases. They see them as no-win cases with little political gain and the risk of making enemies of local police, district attorneys and state officials.
The rare time that the feds cracked down on civil rights violence was during the 1960s civil rights battles. The wave of violence then stirred national and international revulsion and forced then-President Lyndon Johnson to order more civil rights prosecutions.
Though federal prosecutors in recent times have had more than enough legal ground to bring cases in the old race murders from the 1960s, the prosecutions have been almost exclusively in state courts. The only exceptions to the hard-nosed rule that prosecutors stay out of state cases occurs when a hate crime triggers a major riot, generates mass protests or attracts major press attention.
The days when a Lushchinskaya can launch a race-based verbal and physical attack on someone or a fraudulent white accuser can effortlessly call the police on a black kid playing ball or a black getting into his own car and then get away with it with a crocodile tear “I’m sorry” wail and a hand slap legal action must end with swift and tough prosecution and equally swift and tough public condemnation.
If not then, Lushchinskaya and her ilk will strike again — and get away with it again.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of “The Russia Probe” (Middle Passage Press). He also is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One and the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.