Tulsa Shootings and the Color of Hate

Tulsa Hate Crimes

Tulsa Hate Crimes

The fallout over the killing of three black people in Tulsa, Okla., continues after the arrest of two “white” men, Jacob England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, both of whom reportedly confessed to the shooting spree, which occurred in a predominantly black neighborhood.

On April 5, England, who is half Cherokee, posted comments on his Facebook page referring to the 2010 murder of his father by a “F–ing n-word.” According to “locals,” as reported by NPR, England had been troubled since the killing of his father and the January suicide of his fiancée, which left him to care for his 3-month-old child on his own. England’s father, Carl England, was described by locals as a “racist.” Watts’ brothers have said that he can’t be a racist because their family “includes mixed races.”

While media organizations are being cautious about reporting these crimes as hate crimes, possibly because of the controversy over the Trayvon Martin killing, the Tulsa NAACP has called for the crimes to be treated as such based on the racism spewed on England’s Facebook page. Only time will tell how the police will treat these crimes, but what is interesting about this case is how the race of the suspects might affect whether the killings will be seen as hate crimes.

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