The shooting of college student Chris Lane in Oklahoma is stirring a debate over what constitutes a hate crime. Racist tweets, allegedly from social media accounts of a black suspect, prompt some to ask if race was a motive in the murder.
Stephens County Sheriffs Department/AP
Use of racial epithets, on the social media account of a black teenager accused in the Aug. 16 “thrill killing” of Chris Lane, a white college student from Australia, is not likely to prompt officials to treat the murder as a racial hate crime, according to early indications from local police.
The killing of Mr. Lane in Duncan, Okla., has drawn international attention, sparked an attempted tourist boycott, and reignited debates about easy access to guns in the US. It also comes about a month after the verdict in the racially charged Trayvon Martin murder case, which caused a stir in the black community when George Zimmerman was found not guilty.
Now, news of racist tweets allegedly by one of two black suspects in the Lane killing is causing some white Americans to murmur about how officials are classifying the crime. The offensive tweets are playing on white perceptions of a double standard when it comes to hate and violence – that the news media and prosecutors are quick to pursue evidence of white racism, but tend to ignore or discount evidence of black racism in crimes such as the Lane murder.
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