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Hate crimes focus of CircleUp forum

CircleUp Middle Peninsula hosted a forum via Zoom last Thursday titled “Hate Groups and Hate Crimes in Virginia.” The forum examined the topic from three perspectives: sociology, legal, and law enforcement.

Presenters were Dr. James Nolan, who chairs the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at West Virginia University; Mathews Commonwealth’s Attorney Thomas C. Bowen III, and Newport News Sheriff Gabriel (Gabe) Morgan Sr.

Before teaching sociology, Nolan was an FBI unit chief working with the National Hate Crime Data Collection Program, and a police officer before that. Nolan explained that there are different definitions of hate crimes for different purposes. The FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) definition is for gathering statistics, and it counts crimes motivated by bias against race, gender, gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation or ethnicity as hate crimes.

Criminal statute definitions are used for criminal prosecution, and as an example he cited W...

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