|Updated: 4/13/2012 1:24 pm
||Published: 4/12/2012 5:26 pm
The North Tulsa shootings that happened on Good Friday raised questions about the state’s hate crime laws.
In the hours before Jacob England and Alvin Watts randomly gunned down three people and injured two others, England posted racial slurs on Facebook about his father’s killer.
Formal charges are pending and the District Attorney has not yet said if one of those charges will be a hate crime.
Court records show since 1999, there have been 11 hate crime cases prosecuted in Tulsa County and one dismissed.
The victims were people targeted by their race and religion. Those cases make it clear it’s a hate crime.
Those cases show that there is still a grey area in the North Tulsa shootings to prove it’s a hate crime.
"When you target a certain group of people or person and you single them out I consider that a hate crime,” said Nina Mays.
She was protesting in the Tulsa County courthouse plaza on Wednesday.
"I believe that is personally a hate crime,” said Mays.
The North Tulsa victims are all black. England is Native American and Watts told officials he was white.
England posted racial slurs on Facebook about his father’s killer just hours before the shootings.
"If I killed say five people of a different color they would come on me like a ton of bricks,” said Norman Jones.
A counter protester doesn’t agree and believes whites should also be protected.
"I am getting tired of people saying there was another hate crime, 'oh a white person on a black guy' but why not a black guy on a white guy a hate crime?" asked Mickey Staggs.
Staggs wants Tyrone Woodfork to be charged with a hate crime because he is accused of beating an elderly couple.
Nancy Strait, 85, later died of her injuries. Her 90-year-old husband, Bob, survived.
"I think if you beat someone to death and you are a different race that should be a hate crime,” said Staggs.
Woodfork was found in the Straits stolen car and police said he sold their television.
There has been no evidence yet, that Woodfork targeted the Straits because of their race; age is not protected under the hate crime law.
"You don't get a hate crime just because of the identity of the victims. You have to have some proof because of...." said University of Tulsa Professor of Law, Tamara Piety.
Race, religion, ethnicity, color, ancestry, national origin or disability is protected under Title 21, Chapter 30, Section 850.
"Hate crime we are working on background of historic discrimination,” said Piety.
Under Oklahoma law, a first offense hate crime is a misdemeanor.
The hate crimes filed in Tulsa County since 1999 include a pending case involving a father and his 14-year-old son beating up a 12-year-old boy because of his race.
Records show he calls the boy racial slurs and continues to beat on the boy.
Records show the father supports a White Supremacist group.
"When you have someone who belongs to a hate group or Klan then it makes your case easier,” said Piety.
Records also show the Islamic Society of Tulsa has been targeted. In one case a man sent a letter with pictures and videos of him burning a Quaran with pork on a BBQ.
Priscilla Galstaun who is Muslim says there’s no grey area for hate.
"A hate crime is a hate crime. Whether it is towards a race, ethnicity, religion towards a color. It doesn't matter it's still a hate crime,” said Galstaun.
She said she has never pesonally felt threatened but she knows her religion has been threatened and violence has been done.
"We talk about it, we don't ignore it,” said Galstaun.
Ahmed Abdelmonen who is a high school senior says it’s having patience.
"If someone comes to you with evil you should always propell with good,” said Abdelmonen.
Another case showed a man pepper sprayed a woman and yelled racial slurs during a road rage incident.
Broken Arrow policed arrested two brothers and someone else for beating a Hispanic father with a steal pip and a knife. While they did the beating they yelled racial slurs and threatened to kill his children.
So is what England and Watts did a hate crime?
"Most elements of a state if mind it's hard to prove. You have to look at the surrounding facts and try to infer from those facts a state of mind and that can be difficult,” said Piety.
But she said it’s not impossible to prove.
Watts and England have not been formally charged. Right now they face First-Degree Murder. The death penalty is on the table as a possibility.
In the past hate crime cases, court records show the suspects served a few months in jail, suspended or deferred sentence or only paid a fine.
In some of the cases felony charges such as child abuse and assault were added to the case.