Pennsylvania Hate Crimes Are Underreported to the FBI
Zachary Pounds threw in a racial slur as he swore at Michael Cleckley, hit the black man on the head with a beer bottle and slashed his arm with a knife.
"We don't like your type here," the 20-year-old Pounds, a white man, told his victim before the 2016 attack in a rural town north of Pittsburgh.
The knife left a wound on Cleckley's arm 2 inches wide and 5 inches long.
In a plea agreement with the district attorney, Pounds and his brother pleaded guilty to assault charges, but the hate crime charges brought against Zachary were dismissed.
Richard List, a senior-ranking member of the Ellwood City Police Department, scoffed at the idea that Zachary Pounds had committed a hate crime in the first place.
"He stabbed the guy," List told PennLive. "It wasn't because of race. He was just being Zach."
Police logs across the state are filled with scores of similar incidents - ones in which a bias against someone's race, ethnicity or religion are noted in the crime report. But whether it's a failure of police to file hate-crime charges or the chargers become the go-to bargaining chip in a plea deal, these so-called hate crimes seldom make it into state crime statistics.
As a result, Pennsylvania, a state of 12.7 million, continues to have a chronically low annual reporting rate of hate crimes to the FBI.