Adrian Dady has a broken cheekbone, a fractured wrist and several staples in his head.

He also claims he’s the victim of a hate crime, having been assaulted by a half-dozen men while walking through Waikiki over the weekend.

Dady went to the local media saying he was taunted by his assailants, who he says called him a haole among other things.

But now one of the accused attackers is saying that’s just not true. Dady wasn’t beat up and robbed by six men, Keano Feliciano told KHON2 News.

He got a “good old fashioned lickins,” Feliciano said. And, he added, it came from a white guy.

Hawaii is no stranger to racial tension. It influences everything from schoolyard interactions to local politics. But at what point does a tense interaction turn into a hate crime?
Hate crimes appear to be rare in the Aloha State, according to available statistics.

There were no hate crimes in Hawaii in 2012, according to the latest information from the Hawaii Attorney General’s Office. And since 2002 there have only been 17 incidents that could be classified as being motivated by bias against a person’s race, sexual orientation or religion.

Nearly 70 percent of those incidents involved a person’s race, with most of those incidents — about 42 percent — being anti-white. Sexual orientation comprised 20 percent of hate crimes.

But the numbers can be deceiving. Classifying hate crimes is hard. Investigators must prove someone targeted the victim because of their bias, meaning many incidents that the lay person might consider a hate crime simply are not.

“Discerning what is a hate crime versus what is an assault versus what is rude behavior is an art, not a science,” said FBI Special Agent Tom Simon, who works at the agency’s Honolulu headquarters. “It’s the government’s burden to prove what someone’s intent was and getting into the head of somebody is a big challenge.”

In fact, the FBI has a list of about 14 characteristics that can be used to help law enforcement agencies classify what is and is not a hate crime. Among them are whether the offender and victim are of differing race, ethnicity, gender or religion, whether a hate group was involved and the makeup of the community in which the crime occurred.

Each year the FBI compiles statistics on hate crimes across the U.S. On Monday, the agency released its findings from 2012, showing that there were 5,796 criminal incidents that involved some form of targeted bias in 2012.

Nearly half of those incidents, about 48 percent, involved race and another 20 percent were related to sexual orientation. Religious bias was involved in 19 percent of hate crimes.

But even these numbers can be misleading. Not all law enforcement agencies participate in the voluntary survey, so it’s difficult to get a complete picture.

Hawaii doesn’t submit its hate crime data to the FBI because it compiles its information in a different manner, relying on prosecutorial figures rather than on arrest data.

In Hawaii, it’s up to the prosecutors office to determine if an offense should be classified as a hate crime. Among the assessments that must be made are whether a perpetrator intentionally selected a victim because of hostility toward their ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, sexual orientation or religion.

“The police are supposed to recognize these things well enough to flag it for the prosecutor’s attention,” said Paul Perrone, head of the AG’s Research and Statistics Division. “Then the prosecutors are supposed to be a more thorough investigation and determine if it was an actual hate crime.”

This is easy if the crime involves a lynching or burning a cross in someone’s lawn, Perrone said. But most cases are more complex than that.

For instance, he said there’s no doubt racial tensions played a role in the shooting death of 23-year-old Kollin Elderts, a Kailua resident of mixed ethnicity.

Elderts was shot to death by U.S. State Department special agent Christopher Deedy after an altercation in a Waikiki McDonald’s in which Elderts allegedly called Deedy a “f—ing haole.” Deedy is white.

“In my mind, race had to play an issue in there somewhere,” Perrone said. “To what extent? You could make a case. But it was never established or proven.”

Deedy’s murder trial ended in a hung jury. A retrial is scheduled for next summer.

Hawaii’s hate crime law was enacted in 2001. It was amended in 2003 to include add a provision for gender identity.

Since then there have been a number of incidents that have brought attention to the issue. Perhaps the most high profile case involved Gerald Paakaula, a Native Hawaiian truck driver, and his 16-year-old son, both of whom viciously beat a white soldier and his wife in a Waikele shopping center parking lot in 2007.

At the time, then-Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle refused to pursue a hate crime sentencing enhancement because the assailants didn’t seek out the victims due to being white.

The assault had actually started as the result of a fender bender. Some considered it a hate crime because the father and son screamed out “f—ing haole” while beating their victims.

The case also occurred one year after Hawaii recorded six hate crimes in its annual tally. That’s by far the most recorded hate crimes in any year since 2002 when the statistics were first kept.

Most recently, discussions about hate crimes ramped up during Hawaii’s debate over marriage equality. Some were concerned that supporters of legalized gay marriage would be assaulted by those who were vehemently opposed and vice versa.

Jack Law was in the middle of that fray. He’s the owner of Hula’s Bar & Lei Stand, Waikiki’s most prominent gay bar, and has long been one of the state’s most visible gay rights advocates. He’s also a former member of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission.

Law calls himself “a bit of a Pollyanna” when it comes to the tension between supporters of Senate Bill 1 and the opponents. He’s the same when it comes to targeted attacks on him or his business.

Hula’s has seen its share of vandalism over the many decades it has been open, Law said, including people shooting up the front with paintball guns or throwing a beer bottle from the street through a $4,000 window.

But Law doesn’t look at this as animosity or hate.

“Hawaii is really a live and let live kind of place, everybody here is a minority,” Law said. “But there are people that will always cause trouble no matter what it is.”

DISCUSSION Do you think Hawaii does a good job dealing with hate crimes?

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