Thursday, November 08, 2007

Man charged with hate crime.

WATERVILLE -- Police say verbal assaults on a black man last month by a self-avowed white power advocate were hate crimes.

Ralph H. Taylor, 57, of Winslow, was arrested on Friday on a single charge of terrorizing after allegedly targeting a black man in the area of Tim Horton's on Main Street in Waterville, Deputy Police Chief Charles Rumsey said Monday.

The alleged incidents happened Oct. 20 and 21.

"Our agency received two separate reports ... that he was subject to verbal taunts, threatening statements made to him by a male subject," Rumsey said. "...The statement made him fear for his safety, that he was going to be hurt."

Rumsey said Officer Duane Cloutier, one of four civil rights officers at the Waterville Police Department, investigated the reports and obtained a warrant for Taylor's arrest.

Terrorizing is a misdemeanor crime punishable up to a year in jail and/or a $2,000 fine.

Taylor was bailed on $500 cash.

Rumsey said what makes this case different from other threatening or terrorizing cases is that Taylor allegedly pointed to a tattoo on the inside of his left forearm, when he spoke to the alleged victim.

The tattoo says "white power" in ornate script and is bordered by three, double lightning bolts, a symbol associated with Adolf Hitler's personal bodyguards in the "Schutzstaffel" or SS.

"The results of our investigation show us that this may have been a racially biased incident -- a hate crime," Rumsey said. "Basically he said 'You'd better get out of here or we're going to hurt you' or something to that effect."

Rumsey said the victim, who police are declining to name, did not see the tattoo until the police investigation revealed it.

He said once police receive information on a possible hate crime, the report is forwarded to the Attorney General's Office for filing and possible civil sanctions.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Harnett said an injunction, similar to a protection order, can be issued under the Maine Civil Rights Act to stop further contact with the victim of a hate crime. If that injunction is violated with new contact with the original victim, then a criminal charge can be brought.

"There are two things that can happen," Harnett said. "Most of these behaviors are violations of criminal law as well. We are allowed to seek a civil injunction in Superior Court under the Maine Civil Rights Act, in the name of the state, not in the name of the victim or the target."

Harnett said state law also allows his office to seek penalties in court of up to $5,000 per violation and to force the defendant to pay the state's attorney fees.

"But our focus has always been on enhancing safety; it's really not about penalties and getting statutory fees," he said.

Harnett said it is not just the one victim of a hate crime who feels unsafe after being threatened or terrorized; it is the entire group of people he represents that is threatened.

As a part of Taylor's conditions of bail, he is to not use or possess dangerous weapons and is to have no contact with the alleged victim. He also is not to return to Tim Horton's.

A court date has been set for Dec. 12 in Waterville

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