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Black Hate on Trial By: Scott Rubush
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, October 26, 2000

An 8-Year-Old White Boy is Slain by a Black Man Spewing Racial Epithets - But The Suspect Will Not Be Charged with a Hate Crime

WHEN IS A HATE CRIME not a hate crime? Perhaps when the victim is white and the perpetrator black.

In April, Kevin Shifflett, an eight-year-old white boy playing in his great-grandparents’ front yard in Alexandria, VA, was slashed to death by a knife-wielding black man allegedly screaming anti-white epithets.

The national media, which have been quick to give saturation coverage to hate crimes against blacks and homosexuals, have all but ignored the Shifflett case. The murder hasn’t become fodder for the presidential debates. And Jesse Jackson and the NAACP certainly haven’t discussed it much. Now, in the latest twist, it appears that the defendant will not even be charged with a hate crime.

Earlier this month, authorities in Alexandria, Virginia indicted Gregory Devon Murphy, who had remained at large for more than two months before being arrested on an unrelated drug charge. Then last week, Mr. Murphy physically assaulted his defense lawyer during a court hearing. Murphy now must undergo mental examinations to determine if he is capable of standing trial.

Curiously, federal authorities declined to press hate crime charges, instead deferring to Virginia’s state courts.

But Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney S. Randolph Sengel, a prosecutor in the case, told FrontPageMagazine.com that he is powerless to prosecute this case as a hate crime. “There’s no applicable hate crimes law in Virginia,” he told FrontPageMagazine.com on Tuesday.

Controversy has surrounded the case from the beginning.

Much evidence suggested a racial motive behind the April 19 stabbing. A note found in a hotel room where Mr. Murphy had stayed prior to the killing that read, “Kill them racist white kids,” in mangled English. DNA evidence found in a taxi cab used to flee the scene matches Mr. Murphy’s, and seven years earlier, Mr. Murphy was convicted of another racially charged attack, in which he assaulted a white man with a hammer.

It could be argued that the public – especially the white public -- had a right to know that a dangerous killer with a hatred for white people was on the loose. But authorities in Alexandria chose to downplay the racial motivation. 

The July 12 edition of the Washington Times charged that investigators had even failed to inform Alexandria police officers about the “racially sensitive details” of the case. 

City officials defended the secrecy policy. “What they did was proper,” Alexandria City Council member Joyce Woodson told the Times. “We already live in a racially charged world.”

Just as controversial has been the media blackout of the case. While it was covered in the local press, most Americans have never heard of it. Contrast this with the media’s rush to canonize Matthew Shepard as a martyr of the gay rights movement two years ago, and the saturation coverage of the murder of James Byrd by white racists in Texas.

These barbaric acts served as haunting reminders of the inner beast that still lurks in the hearts of men. They rightfully earned the attention of the nation. But so does the Shifflett murder. Yet, it has been treated differently.

Of course, a hate crime charge would make no difference in the fate of Mr. Murphy. If convicted, Mr. Murphy will likely receive the death penalty. If anything, the Shifflett case demonstrates that hate crime laws are superfluous.

But it also demonstrates that the left’s fixation on hate crimes is more about politics than progress. By beating the hate crime drum, the captains of the grievance industry - Sharpton, Farrakhan, Jackson, and their supporters in government - can raise money and push sympathetic voters to the polls. The loss of a white life isn’t as valuable to them for those purposes.

In fact, the Shifflett murder case shatters one of the main premises of the racial left - that whites have a monopoly on hatred. Hate comes in all colors.

Fortunately most Americans on both sides of the racial divide already understand this grim truth. Mainstream America seems eager to bridge the gap between races. But until the leaders of the erstwhile Civil Rights Movement begin speaking honestly about race - in particular, about the murder of Kevin Shifflett -- the chasm will remain open.

Scott Rubush is a former associate editor of FrontPageMagazine.com. He also edits a daily web log at ScottRubush.com.

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