Last month, Martin Luther Blackwell poured boiling water on a sleeping gay couple. His actions caused horrific injuries and unbearable pain for the two young men. The hateful action was because he did not approve of the gay lifestyle choice of his girlfriend’s son. During the attack, the victims stated Blackwell yelled, “Get out of my house with all that gay.” Blackwell, when confronted by police and asked why he harmed the two young men stated, “They was stuck together like two hot dogs, so I poured a little hot water on them and helped them out. They was stuck like two hot dogs. They’ll be all right; it was just a little hot water.”
But the two young men identified as Anthony Gooden, 23, and Marquez Tolbert, 21 are far from all right. They carry lifelong burn scars and mental as well as physical trauma from Blackwell’s unprovoked attack. Many feel that Blackwell’s actions were a hate crime and have called for him to be punished accordingly. Blackwell has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault and is currently being held without bond at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta.
However, Georgia law does not recognize an attack due to sexual orientation among its criteria for designating an action a hate crime. In fact, Georgia has no specific hate crime law at all and has fought the creation of such a law since 2004. Instead, victims of alleged hate crimes must rely on the federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act that calls for fines and up to 10 years in prison. Georgia is one of 16 states that lack comprehensive hate crime laws.
Fortunately, the FBI has recently announced that it is investigating the attack as a hate crime. “It’s important for the public to know that we are taking a look at this case,” said Steve Emmett of the FBI’s Atlanta office.
The FBI is working with the College Park Police Department and the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office and Blackwell could face prosecution under the federal law.