In Pennsylvania, the hate crime category is seldom utilized. However, a recent case that involved a teen facing assault charges has turned into a different situation altogether. Now a ninth grade student faces charges of ethnic hate crimes.
The case against the 14-year-old boy was opened after the Northampton District Attorney's office heard of the charges against an African-American teen. According to the report, the teenager was charged after he allegedly attacked the younger boy for supposedly posting demeaning footage of the older boy on a social media site. It was that footage and the purportedly accompanying derogatory language that prompted the DA to pursue a case against the freshman.
The teen now faces charges under Pennsylvania's ethnic intimidation and harassment statutes. The video allegedly was shot as the 16-year-old was eating and the photographer is alleged to have made disparaging comments while filming. There are representatives from the American Civil Liberties group and another group that supports the rights of students that claim the teen cannot be charged based on a single incident.
The hate crimes law has not played a big role in the juvenile justice system, and it is unclear how this case will proceed. Understandably, hate speech and other forms of alleged racial harassment cannot be tolerated in the schools, and according to the DA, that is the reason behind these charges that stemmed from the original assault charges. Both of the teens involved are entitled to the best defense possible in this matter. They are likely working closely with their guardians and legal team in order to resolve these charges and resume their lives as high school students looking forward to a productive future.
Source: poconorecord.com, "Monroe case among few charged under state's rarely used hate crime law", Riley Yates and Michelle Merlin, Jan. 8, 2017