Calabasas High School maintenance workers found Nazi swastikas, words and symbols related to anti-Semitism, as well as teachers names scrawled on the campus grounds this past Saturday morning. This specific incident has sparked outrage and a great deal of sadness, but it also gives people in the Los Angeles community an opportunity to learn more about hate crimes and the violence of intolerance that all too often occurs.
The Los Angeles Times reported that sheriff’s deputies found that the graffiti in Calabasas was placed on doors, walls, sidewalks and a stop sign at the high school. Calabasas High School has since repaired the damage to the school grounds and is working with the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Department to investigate the incident as felony vandalism and a hate crime. So far, the department has not reported any arrests.
What are the consequences of committing a hate crime versus just a vandalism crime? FindLaw's LawBrain states that hate crime laws typically will enhance a punishment for certain offenses that are motivated by racial, religious, gender, sexual orientation, or other types of prejudice. Hate crimes are also often investigated by the FBI in addition to just the local police department.
Information from the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that of hate crime incidents motivated by religion, 41 percent of the victims are Jewish. Still, most hate crimes that occur today in this country are racially motivated. More information about federal hate crime laws and investigations can be found through our Related Resource pages below.