Hate violence is a matter of grave concern to communities in California. In almost every region in the state of California, there have been incidents in the past whereby sexual, religious, ethnic, and racial minorities have been subjected to assault, intimidation, harassment, and even murder in serious cases. In Davis city and UC Davis campus, the situation is no different; the city has received its fair share of hate crimes in the past and presently. Most of these acts have been motivated by intolerance and have led to the disruption of the community. Even though there is the lack of reliable data on the severity and incidence of hate crimes, testimony from victims, law enforcement officials, and from organizations that track and receive reports indicate that these crimes are motivated intolerance.
Hate crimes in Davis city and UC Davis campusHate crimes arise when the person behind this crime targets a victim due to his/her apparent membership to a given social group due to their sexual orientation, racial group, class, disability, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, gender, age, nationality or political affiliation. These conditions act as the main motivators of hate crimes. Incidents of hate crimes can be portrayed through offensive graffiti, insults or verbal abuse, harassment, bullying, damage to property, hate mails, or physical assault (Morgan, Ulit and Schwartz 196)In UC Davis campus there have been numerous incidents of hate crimes that have been experienced. The recent cases have involved the use of graffiti where by the swastika signs have been painted on the buildings of the campus. These signs have been painted on the door a Jewish student and outside the campus’ lesbian gay bisexual transgender resource center where there have been numerous anti gay slogans that were printed. In another incident the swastika sign was carved on the bulletin board of the campus and this goes on to show the seriousness of the matter.The use of the swastika triggers memories of the present and historical hate violence and tragedies that have occurred in the campus and in other sister campuses.
The swastika symbolizes the holocaust whereby Nazis murdered over 6 million Jews; in addition the Nazis killed the disabled, poles, Jehovah’s witnesses, freemasons, lesbians, and gays. This damages the shared respect and sense of community in the campus and it hard to feel comfortable in such an environment.The important question is what causes such incidents? The causes are many but it all boils down to one factor: fear. Fear comes about due to ignorance; this fear can be due to perceived competition, fear of others, or fear of the unknown. All these forms of fear have the potential to trigger violence when the conditions are right.The other cause is prejudice which is normally instinctual, according to numerous studies; normally people habitually tend to notice similarities and differences between other people and themselves. This prejudice tends to make people to desire to establish some form of order due to the perceived chaos in the world.
However in trying to compare themselves to others, there is the tendency to recognize the similar characteristics of others as being desirable, while the dissimilar characteristics are viewed as undesirable. This leads people to judge others and in so doing we view others as bad and this will lead to violence against them (Greenswald 5).The other cause can be as a result of the influence by external groups such as the neo-Nazis, White Aryan resistance, and Ku Klux Klan. These groups stand for violence against sexual, religious, and racial minorities. Such groups have established street gangs, youth gangs, hate agenda networks, bulletin boards, and hotlines and use these avenues to propagate their ideologies.The issue of hate crime is of serious concern not only in Davis city but also globally. Appropriate measures must be put in place to address this issue, due to the instinctual character of prejudice and the multiplicity of sources, efforts should be focused on the broader picture.
As a result of the hate crime acts in UC Davis campus, the Chancellor has set aside about $230,000 to fight intolerance and hate in the campus. This is an effort in the right direction but much needs to done to address this issue comprehensively.