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ZERO TOLERANCE FOR HATE CRIMES
Racist skinhead sentenced to prison

11/26/03

A Stop Hate Crimes graphic.On November 19, 23-year-old "skinhead" Shaun Derifield was fined and maximally sentenced to 37 months in prison for "conspiring to violate the civil rights of four African-American teenagers."

That is, on the evening of August 30, 2002, he and two companions ran up to 4 teenagers innocently walking home from a Friday night football game in a small town in Illinois, yelling racial epithets at them. When they scattered, he chased down one of the girls, held a knife to her throat, and screamed "Remember our faces! This is our town and you better get out before we kill you!" Then, afraid the police were on their way, he fled.

Within 2 days, the three were picked up by the police. One, a minor, was sentenced to prison on state charges. Another pled guilty, cooperated with the investigation, and was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison in early November. Derifield's sentencing closes the book on the case. But it sure doesn't close the books on the harm he did to four innocent teenagers.

What did the judge say? U.S. District Judge Ruben Casillo said, "This is one of the most abhorrent crimes I have ever seen prosecuted in federal court. Those moments of terror are going to burn in the memories of the victims forever.”

What did the victim's mother say? She said to Mr. Derifield in court: "My home is very loving. You have torn that apart. My family is not the same."

It is for these reasons, and the government's zero tolerance policy on hate crimes, that the FBI is the lead federal agency responsible for investigating incidents of racial or ethnic violence. In a case such as this, local police immediately step in, open an investigation, and make arrests. But then they call the FBI -- because we can conduct an investigation that takes the perpetrators to federal court, where much higher penalties can often be imposed to take dangerous people off our streets.

Want to learn more about the FBI's civil rights program? Please visit the Civil Rights Section and view the most recent hate crime statistics.

Related Link: The Department of Justice Press Release