PS - I Told You So
May 28, 2001
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Race charges won't be filed against teen arrested in melee
Saturday, May 26, 2001
Prosecutors decided they won't file a hate-crime charge against a young black man accused of beating and robbing a man during the rowdy Mardi Gras celebration, then making remarks to police about a "racial war."
King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng said yesterday that there was not enough evidence that Kahlid Adams , who turned 18 this week, was simply out to hurt white people.
"The free-for-all nature of the violence in Pioneer Square that night makes it difficult to conclude that the primary motivation for Adams' conduct was racial hatred," Maleng said.
"The defendant joined with a crowd that was out of control and engaged in numerous crimes."
Adams was one of 43 people charged in the Feb. 28 street melee, after Seattle police detectives identified him as one of a group of people who attacked a man and stole his wallet, cellular phone and camera. He is currently awaiting trial for first-degree robbery, which carries a typical 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-year prison term.
Police say the teen told them he was drunk and assaulting people in the crowd that night, and that people were attacking him. When a detective asked him why that was happening, he allegedly said, "It looked as if it was a racial war going on."
And when the detective asked if he hit a particular person because he was white, Adams allegedly responded, "Most likely."
Police believed the teen's actions merited a malicious harassment charge, the only so-called "hate crime" charge under Washington law. It could have added roughly six months to the sentence Adams could face for robbery, according to prosecutors.
But Maleng said the case was far different from other malicious-harassment cases his office has brought against people of various races. The law can be applied when the main reason for the crime is intolerance, he said, not simply when conflicts "degenerate into racist name-calling and assaults."
Prosecutors also noted that Adams did not appear to be trying to "send a message" about race.
The violence erupted when thousands of people crowded into Pioneer Square to celebrate Fat Tuesday.
Criminal charges have included rioting, assault and indecent liberties.
News footage and photographs of the mayhem raised concerns for some observers that blacks appeared to be targeting whites, while others have criticized the news media for what they consider a selective portrayal of what happened.
Police have said that three-fourths of the attackers were black, though they have sought a hate-crime charge only against Adams. Malicious harassment, under state law, means hurting or threatening someone based on race, religion or other attributes commonly targeted by discrimination.
Adams had also been accused of groping a woman in the crowd, but the charge was dismissed when the woman couldn't positively say he did it.
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Copyright © Edgar J. Steele,
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Copyright © Edgar J. Steele, 2002
Forward as you wish. Permission is granted to circulate
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Write to me at Steele@ConspiracyPenPal.com