College Student Charged With Felony Over Possible Hate-Crime Hoax

Ashley (Kimber)

I have SO many thoughts about this case – there’s so much to unpack. So let’s begin, shall we?

Basically, a 19-year-old sophomore college student at the University of Illinois was arrested on Monday night and charged with a felony hate crime after he tied a noose and hung it in a residence hall elevator

“Andrew Smith, 19, found some rope in the elevator in Allen Hall over the weekend and tied it into a noose, Champaign County Assistant State’s Attorney Kristin Alferink said during the arraignment,” the Associated Press reported Tuesday. “University spokeswoman Robin Kaler said students in the hall on the Urbana campus reported finding the noose early Sunday.”

Smith became the suspect of this reported hate crime when a “female friend” of his reported she was with him as he tied the noose.

According to Daily Wire:

After he was arrested, Smith admitted that he did tie and hang up the noose, saying he “only spent about 30 seconds thinking about his actions,” AP reports. Even after he saw the noose go viral online, he said he didn’t think his actions were serious enough to turn himself into authorities.

“No motive has been provided for the purported display of hate,” The Daily Mail reports.

Smith was charged Tuesday with a felony hate crime and misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges. He pleaded not guilty. He was released on a $5,000 bond and his hearing was scheduled for Oct. 22.

So here’s a question: are all nooses, regardless of intent or target, a hate crime now?

Is the very act of tying a noose a hate crime? Or is it leaving a noose in public, for others to see, a hate crime?

Does the intent behind the noose matter? Or we subscribing to a noose = automatic hate crime rule?

I’m not DEFENDING what was clearly a dumb thing to do – I’m just wondering if tying a noose and leaving it somewhere for people to see warrants an automatic hate crime felony. Does the punishment fit the crime here?

There is, however, rampant speculation on the actual intent of the noose.

Was this a “hate crime?” OR a “hate crime HOAX?”

ince the story began to gain traction online, speculation about the potential motive of the incident took off, with many describing it as a another “hate crime hoax,” while some claimed that the student’s appearance suggested that he might be “transgender,” though no official reports describe the crime as a hoax or identify Smith as transgender.

The incident comes amid heightened racial tensions on campus, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. “In 2016, someone drew three large swastikas at three campus buildings the same year a university employee was fired for tossing a noose down on a table in front of a black employee,” the Tribune reports. “Early this year, black employees in the U. of I. system filed a lawsuit saying they were ‘exposed to threats of racial violence, such as nooses, swastikas, KKK garb, racist graffiti and confederate flags.’ The lawsuit also alleged that university staff members used racial slurs and other racially charged language against black workers.”

It’s all confusing – and raises yet ANOTHER question – should hate crime HOAXES be prosecuted at a lesser extent than actual “hate crimes.”

At the end of the day, is their effect on escalating tension and disrupting society not the same?