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Quote of the Day: “Hatred is not a Crime in this Country”

2018-03-23

An attorney for the defense in the trial of Kansas militia members who are accused of plotting to blow up an apartment building housing Somali immigrants told the jury that the secretly recorded conversations between the defendants were protected speech under the First Amendment because:

“… hatred is not a crime in this country…”

The prosecution argued that the discussion revolved around concrete plans to obtain explosives, pack a truck with them, and detonate them next to an apartment building filled with immigrants from Somalia who worked in a meatpacking plant.

“Defendants wanted to send the message Muslims are not welcomed here — not in Garden City, not in Kansas, not in America,” prosecutor Risa Berkower said in her opening statement.

The three men were indicted in October 2016 after a militia member, Dan Day, became alarmed and contacted the FBI. He agreed to wear a wire and recorded profanity-laced conversations among the men that led to their arrest.

The government plans to present evidence that the men manufactured homemade explosives and tested them. It also plans to present testimony showing the men tried to recruit other members of the Kansas Security Force to join them, and warned them not to tip off law enforcement about the plan. Some militia members will testify they didn’t like Muslims but refused to join the plan to kill people.

Attorneys for the defense said the FBI set up the men with a paid informant and all the talk about violence wasn’t serious. They said that the men had a right to free speech and association under the Constitution. The FBI acknowledges it paid Day more than $32,000 for expenses including a used vehicle after his broke down.

The alleged plot came against the background of a vicious election campaign in the fall of 2016, in which presidential candidate Donald J. Trump incited hatred against immigrants not from Norway.  It’s true that hatred for certain groups of people is not against the law– it would be unconstitutional to prosecute people for their attitudes– but it is certainly also true that hatred can lead to attempts to abridge the rights of others.

(photo courtesy of pixabay.com and arnoldus)

 

 

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