The District Attorney prosecuting the three teens for their alleged ‘thrill’ killing of college baseball player Christopher Lane has announced that the murder will not be pursued as a hate crime. Overtly racist statements made by one of the teens on his social media accounts charged for first-degree murder have recently come to light, but District Attorney Jason Hicks rejects the idea that race was the main motivator.
The reaction to the racial component of this murder seems to be disproportionately muted in media outlets and among activists and public officials when compared to the killing of Trayvon Martin. Earlier this week a White House spokesperson answered a question about the murder of Christopher Lane by stating that they were not familiar with the crime. Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson stated in a tweet simply that he “frowned upon” the horrendous crime in Oklahoma.
After the ruling in the Trayvon Martin case, Jesse Jackson organized rallies, marches, and speeches to show outrage at the result. Attorney General Eric Holder considered bringing a civil rights case against George Zimmerman. President Obama stated, “Trayvon Martin could have been me.” All of of these reactions occurred with little to no proof that there was actually any racially charged motivation for the act committed by George Zimmerman.
The lack of pursuit to prosecute the murder as a hate crime may simply be due to the belief that the killing was largely due to another motivation, such as a gang initiation. Nevertheless, the same three leaders, have been conspicuously quiet on the issue, adding to the body of unequal reactions to Lane’s and Martin’s deaths.