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Raleigh man pleads guilty to federal hate crimes

Posted September 30, 2008

A Raleigh man pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to charges that he sent threatening e-mails last year to Hispanic and Islamic advocacy groups.

In U.S. District Court, Christopher Szaz said he was "extremely intoxicated" when he threatened the National Council of La Raza with racial slurs and threats on their employees' lives.

Szaz, 42, a Web designer, said the e-mails – one on July 27, 2007, to the group and an earlier one with similar threats on June 8, 2007, to the Council on American-Islamic Relations – were not in his nature.

He could face 15-21 months in prison on the misdemeanor counts.

An admitted alcoholic with no prior record, Szaz apologized for what federal prosecutors called the "shockingly graphic and personal" nature of the note and asked the judge for leniency.

Judge James Gates said he needed more time to review the case and continued sentencing until Wednesday.

La Raza, the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union were among minority advocacy groups gathered outside the federal courthouse in Raleigh to call on the court to make a larger statement to others who commit hate crimes.

No groups representing the Muslim community were present Tuesday.

"The message here should be that this is not to be tolerated," said Tony Asion, executive director of El Pueblo, a North Carolina-based Latino advocacy group.

Andrea Bazán, national board chairman of La Raza and president of the Triangle Community Foundation, said the group has spent more than $100,000 to increase its security because of more and more threats of violence toward Hispanics, regardless of whether they are legal.

The group calls the Szaz case the "result of a pattern and practice of hate speach and harassment unleashed in the debate over immigration reform."

"Civil discourse is not a cloak or disguise for hate," said Janet Murguía, national president and chief executive officer of La Raza. "Words have consequences, and hateful words have hateful consequences.


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  • haggis basher Oct 1, 2008

    Death threats are a bit more than just "hurting someones feelings". The guys an idiot. As to the Hate crime issue, perhaps if some of you folks had stopped treating the other half of the population like untermenshen until the recent past then they wouldn't be needed now. Democracy is not a tyranny of the majority.

  • Tarheel True Oct 1, 2008

    Aww did someone get their itsy bitsy little feelings hurt.

    These fools who insist upon legislation, above and beyond, what we already have on the books should spend one day at a middle school.

    Is there a more worthless and hate mongering organization than the NAACP. I wish they would go the way of the KKK and just virtually disappear.

  • Politically Honest NOT PC Oct 1, 2008

    HATE CRIMES. Now there is a misnomer if ever there was one. I just wonder exactly how many crimes are committed out of love. I mean, seriously, just when was the last time you saw a headline that said. "Joe Blow committed a LOVE CRIME against so and so"?

  • tsquaring Sep 30, 2008

    Actually, you'd be surprised on hate crime stats. The people who came up with hate crime laws never anticipated the results.

  • DrJ Sep 30, 2008

    Threats are already against the law. When the liberals tack on their "hate" crimes, it becomes double prosecution for the same act.

  • TheAdmiral Sep 30, 2008

    Unfortunately, everyone DOES have a right to free speech. He can call anyone he wants anything he wants and guess what - it is a protected right.

    Liberals don't want to be called Liberals because they are trying to represent the nasty, disgusting, ho-ladden aspects of society as the majority.

    Communicating Threats, on the other side, is where you cross the line and you are intimidating and threatening bodily harm.

    If he did it with true southern grace, he couldn't be charged.

  • Mitch Sep 30, 2008

    So called "hate crimes" are unconstitutional. This is just left wing persecution of those whose speech they disagree with. If enough Americans were vocal enough about this kind of travesty they would not dare get away with this. Turn on the lights and the rats will scurry away.

  • tsquaring Sep 30, 2008

    I once yelled "Theater" in a crowded fire house. It wasn't pretty. Firemen screaming, all trying to jump off the fire truck and run out the door... I was NEVER charged!

  • brinkflanks Sep 30, 2008

    Seriously people, free speech is NOT limitless. One can NOT legally yell "fire" in a crowded theater, and one can NOT legally communicate death threats to an individual or group.

    That this man has been charged with communicating death threats does not have anything to do with "liberal" this or "conservative" that.

  • OrdinaryCitizen Sep 30, 2008

    So much for the old nursery rhyme,"sticks and stones may break my bones,but names will never hurt me"..

    This needs to be repeated. Its not like this guy was in office or held a high position. We have some who say degragatory things in songs and never get into trouble. I'm not saying I like the guy but too many people get thier feelings hurt and feel jail time is reasonable or their own actions of violence are justified. Check out Craigslist, we could put a ton of people in jail but I would rather think they are just dumb and ignorant.