Hate alone is not enough to warrant federal hate-crime charges, says the Seattle Times. State and federal prosecutors are weighing the prosecution of Naveed Afzal Haq, 30, who is accused of killing one employee and wounding five others in a shooting rampage at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle on Friday. Haq allegedly said he was angry at Israel and Jews as he stalked the agency’s hallways, indiscriminately shooting workers before surrendering to police. King County prosecutors may file aggravated-murder and attempted-murder charges against Haq, perhaps as early as tomorrow. A conviction on state murder charges would not require the state to prove that hate was a motive for the crime.
Federal prosecutor Bruce Miyake said proving a hate crime under federal law might be more difficult than it would seem. “Hate by itself is not enough,” he said said. “It’s sort of hate-‘plus.’ “The “plus” requires the government to prove that more than race, religious preference or national origin was a factor in the crime. “You also have to be able to show that the individual was interfering with a federally protected right,” such as voting, using interstate commerce, or attempting to use a public facility. Criminologist Jack Levin of Northeastern University said prosecutors are often shy about filing hate-crime charges because of a perception they are difficult to prove and don’t carry heavy-enough penalties.