At the core of pretty much any hate crime is ignorance, and in some cases, the culprits simply need education instead of criminalization.
The five teens — all aged 16 or 17 — pleaded guilty to unlawful entry and destruction of property and were sentenced to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, The Huffington Post reports.
They were also ordered to read books from Jewish, black, and Afghan authors and write a research paper on hate speech. Additionally, they must listen to an interview with a former student of Ashburn Colored School, which is one of the buildings they vandalized.
Ironically, three of the five teens are minorities and also wrote “brown power” on the building. None of the boys had previously faced trouble with the law. Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Alex Rueda surmised and argued that these kids’ actions were motivated by ignorance and not racial hatred.
Following the teens’ stunt, volunteers raised more than $70,000 to have the building restored and repainted.
Human beings are not born to hate — it is a learned emotion and can just as easily be unlearned with an open mind and open heart. The judge who presided over the vandals’ case clearly understands that concept and is giving these adolescents an opportunity to broaden their horizons and redeem themselves from this foolish act.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Smash the Iron Cage