Friday, July 18, 2008

Three White Men Being Set Up On Bogus Hate Crime Charges In Mushroom Fracas With Asians Near Kalispell, Montana

This story first piqued my interest when it initially surfaced several days ago. Previous media stories reported on July 15th, 2008 by the Kalispell Daily Interlake, the Flathead Beacon, and the Missoula Missoulian. However, at the time, it looked like the three white men involved may have started the incident.

But now, evidence to the contrary is emerging. According to the latest story published July 18th, 2008 by the Daily Interlake, Lane K. Bennett, the attorney for one of the accused white men, insists the Asians began the confrontation.

Here's what the establishment claims. Flathead County prosecutors allege that 46-year-old Karl Trent, 26-year-old Edward Lee Hubbs, and 25-year-old Daniel James Devine were among a group of white men who last week allegedly assaulted a group of Laotian, Cambodian and Thai morel mushroom pickers at the Moose Crossing campground in Marion. All three men are being held in the Flathead County Detention Center in lieu of $50,000 bail, charged with felony malicious intimidation or harassment relating to civil or human rights. If convicted on all charges, Trent, Hubbs, and Devine each face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

According to Flathead County Sheriff Mike Meehan, the stage for the incident was set when Hubbs initially confronted a group of migrant mushroom pickers at the Bitterroot Quick Stop on U.S. 2 in Marion just before 8 P.M on July 12th, after his sister overheard them threatening to take him outside and beat him up. The verbal exchange moved outside to the parking lot, Meehan said, where one of the Asians allegedly fired two shots into the air. Everyone then went their separate ways. Later, Hubbs, Trent, and Devine were among about half a dozen men who pulled up to the campsite in two pickup trucks and a car shortly after 10 P.M. and began hurling beer bottles and yelling racial slurs at the migrant mushroom pickers. Hubbs is accused of firing six to seven rifle rounds into the air during the fracas. Vernon Taber, who owns the Moose Crossing campground, told authorities the attack appeared to be motivated by racial hatred.

However, Hubbs’ attorney, Lane K. Bennett, said that race had nothing to do with the incident. “I think this is the furthest thing from a hate crime,” Bennett said. “There’s a lot of evidence out there that has not been investigated yet, and the initial reports we believe are not accurate.” Bennett also said that his office will investigate the incident independently.

Bennett further explained that the mushroom pickers were waiting for Hubbs outside the store because they thought he had said something disrespectful when he asked if they were waiting in line.

The mushroom pickers, however, told investigators they had no idea what sparked the confrontation at the convenience store, said Sheriff Meehan, who added his office’s investigation has been wrapped up and no additional arrests are expected.

Update August 1st: All three men appeared in court on July 31st and pleaded not guilty. Hubbs and Trent are still in the detention center, while Devine posted bond but is under house arrest.

Additional information posted on Stormfront and the Vanguard News Network Forum indicates that most townspeople accept the three white men's version of events. This is understandable, considering the white men are being threatened with a five-year prison sentence for what was merely a brief dispute that, in bygone days, would have been settled with a 30-day stretch at the most. The July 15th Interlake story provides more background on the mushroom picking. Morel mushrooms seem to be highly prized by some, and apparently it is dominated by local Asians, and it is quite territorial, with people staking out and defending their turf, sort of like gangbangers in inner cities.

Why are hate crime laws inappropriate? Because the proper object of law is behavior, not attitude or belief. Hate-crime laws attempt to regulate feelings and attitudes to subversively gain an end they cannot attain in open discussion. They are often used to shut down the very public discussion of undesirable behavior necessary to rational public policy, and thus they violate the proper inclusiveness and pluralism necessary to a democratic republic. Honest inclusiveness or pluralism does not say that every view is right, but rather that every view is welcome into the public discussion to be tested to find out whether it is the right one for the circumstances. Views are plural, but truth is singular.

We can only hope that the defense lawyer is successful in bringing out the whole truth to this story. The Interlake acknowledges that there has been tension between the Asians and local townspeople over the mushrooms in the past.

1 comment:

Philip Anderson said...

It seems he has been arrested again and this time charged with threats via myspace......