SPD says LFS’ stolen flags do not qualify as a hate crime

These residents participated in the recent march on city hall seeking the flying of the Progress Flag. Photo submitted

The Susanville Police Department does not dispute someone stole three flags from the Lassen Family Services flagpole on June 3 — an American Flag, a California state flag and a Pride flag. But according to a statement by SPD Captain Mike Bollinger, the “theft and vandalism” at LFS does not satisfy the legal elements of a hate crime.

Bollinger also said based on video of the event, it appears the “responsible parties” are “kids.”

According to Bollinger’s statement,  the “SPD took a report of theft and vandalism from Lassen Family Services on June 3.  All three flags were taken from LFS. A large American Flag; the State of California flag and a LGBT flag.

“Of course, if someone had only taken ‘one’ of the specified flags, and burned it or damaged it, then we might be able to show a bias.  But even then we (also) would need to the following:

  • Need for an underlying crime. A person cannot be convicted of a hate crime unless there is some type of underlying offense.

This means that while a person may show ill will or hatred towards a specific race, there is no hate crime unless that person commits some unlawful act against a person of the given race.

  • What is a hate crime under Penal Code 422.6? A prosecutor must prove the following to prove that a defendant is guilty of a hate crime: He/she used force to willfully interfere with another person’s civil rights or constitutional rights; he/she did so in whole or in part because of the other person’s actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, and the defendant intended to interfere with the other person’s legally protected rights.

“The policy behind PC 422.6 is to protect the physical integrity of every person from unauthorized violence. A violation of this law is charged as a misdemeanor.”