Posts Tagged ‘Zachary Tennen’

The Mysterious Case of Sharmeka Moffitt

October 25, 2012

**** UPDATE – April 20, 2013 **** In the same month that saw convicted hate crime hoaxer Charlie Rogers sentenced to a week in jail and two years of probation, Sharmeka Moffitt was arrested on April 2 and booked on charges of terrorizing and false reporting.

Released on $20,000 bail,  Moffitt was appointed an indigent defender and her trial was scheduled for December 12, 2013. Stay tuned for updates as they become available.

**** UPDATE – December 20, 2012 **** After spending nearly two months in the hospital being treated for her severe burns, Sharmeka Moffitt was released from the hospital in good condition on December 20. Surprisingly, the article reports that “Fifth District Attorney Mack Lancaster has said Moffitt will likely face criminal charges.”

As reported earlier, Nebraska lesbian Charlie Rogers did face criminal charges in December and was found guilty of filing a false report. Rogers will face sentencing in February.

Unfortunately, neither woman has the resources or political connections of young Zachary Tennen, an alleged victim of “Nazi-Klan-Skinheads.” The impetuous youth walked away from his August hate crime “prank” scot-free.

Tennen’s daddy, who invoked the ADL and threatened to sue the city of East Lansing for incompetence, quietly asked the Prosecutor’s Office to “just drop the whole thing” once he found out that his boy got punched in the face for being drunk and feeling up girls at an off-campus party.

And for some reason, that Prosecutor said “Okay! It never happened. No harm No foul.” Sorry, ladies.

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[Original post] In what appears to be yet another hate crime hoax this year, police in Winnsboro, Louisiana, are reporting that all evidence in a gruesome burning incident now points to the victim herself.

20-year-old Sharmeka Moffitt told police that she was walking alone on a trail in a local park on Sunday, October 21, when she was approached by “three men wearing white hoodies” who “doused her with a flammable liquid and set her on fire.” Police also found found the initials “KKK” and the infamous “N-word” scrawled on Ms. Moffitt’s car, in toothpaste (?)

Police responded to Ms. Moffitt’s 911 call in less than a minute and found no suspects matching her description. After completing their investigation, police report finding only Ms. Moffitt’s fingerprints on a cigarette lighter and lighter fluid container. The toothpaste was determined to contain evidence of female DNA only.

Ms. Moffitt suffered third-degree burns on at least 60% of her body, with some reports saying as much as 90%. Given the severe nature of her injuries and the record-breaking response of the police to the crime scene, it sure looks like Ms. Moffitt, or an accomplice, must have smeared the toothpaste smears on her car well before the alleged attack. This was premeditated.

Within hours of the report, the Blogosphere and social media were decrying yet another alleged attack by evil white men, once again, before the police had even had time to examine the evidence. Within hours, it was being reported that Ms. Moffitt had been raped and burned because she was wearing an Obama t-shirt, two claims that her family have declared to be completely unfounded.

This is the same pattern we’ve seen in the Zachary Tennen and Charlie Rogers hate crime hoaxes we’ve reported on in  just the past few months. Naturally, the Huffington Post reported unequivocally that “A Louisiana woman was the victim of a horrific attack during which she was reportedly set on fire and had her car defiled with the letters “KKK,” only to follow it up with a sheepish update regarding the dubious nature of Ms. Moffitt’s claims, just as they have done with both the Rogers and Tennen stories.

To his credit, even the Southern Poverty Law Center’s public relations chief, Mark Potok, has come out against Ms. Moffitt and several other hate crime hoaxers, claiming that lately, “Bogus hate crimes are all the rage.”

Of course, for Mr. Potok, these hoaxes are personal. When you work for an organization that takes in tens of millions of tax-free dollars a year claiming that “hate is everywhere,” false claims like these are bad for business.

Mr. Potok has a highly lucrative brand name to protect.

Unfortunately, neither Mr. Potok, nor the Anti-Defamation League (who were prepared to pull out all the stops over Mr. Tennen’s non-existent hate crime attack), nor any of the other Hate Industry major players are calling for stiffer legal penalties for these deliberate hoaxes.

Ms. Rogers is facing a misdemeanor charge, the Winnsboro police chief seems to feel that Ms. Moffitt’s severe burns are punishment enough and Mr. Tennen will walk away from his “boyish prank” scot-free.

We can expect to see more and more of these hoaxes, which needlessly inflame tensions and passions, while tying up valuable law enforcement resources, as long as the price for crying wolf is negligible. Hate crime charges are among the most serious that can be leveled in this country, and with that power comes the highest level of responsibility.

False hate crime charges should be met with federal repercussions. They won’t go away until the price becomes too high to pay.

Mr. Potok claims his self-appointed group is “tracking domestic terrorists,” well, if the definition of “terrorist” is “one who employs illegal methods to affect political change” then these criminals should be at the top  of his list.

The Mysterious Case of Zachary Tennen

September 5, 2012

***** UPDATE — 9/30/12 ****** According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency the Tennen Family has asked that the hate crime investigation be officially closed:

The family wrote in a Sept. 24 letter that “justice will be best served by closing this investigation at this time,” according to reports. “The Tennen family is cognizant of the fact that substantial resources were expended to investigate these allegations and that there is insufficient evidence of a hate crime to go forward with a criminal prosecution,” the letter said.

How exactly will “justice be best served” by covering up such a heinous hate crime? Tennen’s father had already lined up “high profile lawyers” and had complained personally to the Anti-Defamation League. What justice is there in letting those evil Nazi-Klan-Skinheads get away with such blatant anti-Semitism?? Isn’t this exactly the way the Nazis got started to begin with?

Well… not so much.

A couple of days earlier several news outlets released the missing details from all other reports to date. Statenews.com reports that Mr. Tennen was, in his own words, “drunk and high” at the party that night, and he began to make unwanted sexual advances on several female party-goers:

According to the report, several female students told police Tennen made advances on them at the party, touched them inappropriately, asked them to make out with him and invited them back to his apartment.

One woman said after trying to avoid Tennen several times in the backyard, she was approached by him while she was sitting outside. Tennen came up to sit next to her and began touching her in a way that made her feel “extremely uncomfortable and scared,” she told police, the report reveals.
“I looked at my phone and ignored him in hopes that he’d walk away,” the witness said. “Instead he … placed his right hand across my chest and on my upper right thigh and then began to move lower to my private parts.”

The witness said Tennen was pushing against her so she couldn’t stand up or get away and asked her to make out with him.

After slapping his hand away, she went to get help from one of her friends — the man police identified as the suspect who punched Tennen.

Chivalry, it seems, is not dead after all, even among Nazi-Klan-Skinheads. Good for them.

So, what charges will be brought in this case? Will the Nazi-Klan-Skinhead face charges for the assault? It seems unlikely: “As of Thursday, no charges have been filed. In addition, no arrests have been made, and the case is not considered a hate crime.”

Will Zachary Tennen be charged with underage drinking, public intoxication and attempted sexual assault? Not likely.

Will Mr. Tennen be charged with filing false charges and promoting a hate crime hoax?

Despite some inconsistencies between the story Tennen gave police and witness accounts of the assault, Dunnings said there is no chance Tennen could be charged with filing a false police report.

“He believed he was assaulted, and he was, in fact, hit,” [Prosecutor Stuart]Dunnings said. “The fact that there may have been some erroneous reporting around the events does not make it a false police report.”

Apparently not. “Hate crime” laws aren’t about crime, after all, are they?

As for the “erroneous reporting,” here’s a link to an ABC News report featuring Mr. Tennen literally lying through his teeth, twice.

***** UPDATE — 9/17/12 ****** And the final word from the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office:

“There is no indication at all that this was a hate crime. None. Zero,” Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III said Monday. “I think it’s a shame when one person makes an allegation and everyone takes it as the truth and gets up in arms about it.”

It is a shame, Mr. Dunnings, and hopefully your office will hold Mr. Tennen responsible for this reprehensible hoax. If societies are going enact subjective “hate crime” laws based on what the perpetrator was allegedly thinking at the time of the crime, then people who abuse those laws should be held to the same standards and punishments.

Maybe that would make the hoaxers think twice.

***** UPDATE — 9/14/12 ****** The Anti-Defamation League, (ADL), has issued a press release noting that “East Lansing Police have apparently concluded that while the student was the victim of a serious physical assault, the evidence does not support his claim that the assault involved anti-Semitic hate speech or gestures, nor does it indicate that the incident was motivated by his religion.”

The ADL then concludes that:

The story is a very sad one, on many levels.  However, based on the best information currently available, ADL does not believe this incident should be treated as a hate crime.

The story is indeed a very sad one. If the ADL, the creators and promoters of many current hate crime laws on the books, believe that this is not a hate crime, they should be among the first and the loudest to call for the most severe legal penalties under the law to be brought against an intentional hate crime hoaxer.

Will the ADL do the moral thing, the right thing, by demanding justice? Will they circle the wagons around one of their own and cook up some cockamamie excuse for the alleged hoaxer, as so many special interest groups are wont to do in these situations? Will the ADL and the Media simply allow this case to case to drop down the Memory Hole and never speak of it again?

Only time will tell. Stay tuned for further updates, if and when they occur.

***** UPDATE — 9/6/12 ****** Andrew Silow-Carroll, Editor-in-Chief of the New Jersey Jewish News, offers some good advice on allowing the police investigation to proceed before making the very serious charges of anti-Semitism or “hate crime.”

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Another horrific hate crime story was in the news last week that bears watching for further developments. Like the violent attack reported by Lincoln, Nebraska, lesbian Charlie Rogers in July, the early media reports on the attack on 19-year-old Jewish college student Zachary Tennen have evolved into an entirely different scenario.

Charlie Rogers claimed she was attacked because of her sexual identity. Early media reports determined that “three white men”  had undoubtedly committed one of the most heinous hate crimes in Nebraska history. Lincoln police investigated her report as a hate crime, but after examining the evidence they have since arrested Ms. Rogers and are charging her with faking the attack and filing a false report.

Early reports on the Tennen attack say that the MSU journalism student was at an off-campus party early on the morning of August 26 when two males with “shaved heads”  approached and asked him if he was Jewish. When Tennen replied that he was Jewish, the two men allegedly made “Nazi and Hitler symbols and they said they were part of the KKK,” according to Tennen’s report.

At that point, according to the media, the Klan-Nazi-Skinheads proceeded to “knock” or “beat” (depending on the source) Tennen into unconsciousness and then “stapled his mouth shut.”

Hate crimes don’t come much clearer than that (unless it comes to “carving” slurs into the flesh of a lesbian) and the media had a feeding frenzy.  Once again, before the police had even begun their preliminary investigation, the usual special interest groups weighed in to register their “horror” at this obvious anti-Semitic hate crime.

At least the ADL had the common sense to deplore an “alleged attack,” and the Southern Poverty Law Center seems to be watching and waiting on this one, having been singed by the Charlie Rogers incident.

East Lansing Police have since painted a slightly different picture of the events that don’t quite line up with Tennen’s version.

  • Witnesses at the party did not see or hear any “Nazi symbols” prior to the attack.
  • Tennen was knocked to the ground by a single punch (There’s a difference between being kayo’d by a single punch and being “beaten,” just as there is a significant difference between “carving” and “scratching” words on a person’s skin.)
  • Witnesses who saw the punch said the two men left immediately afterward and there was no stapler or stapling involved. (Do Klan-Nazi-Skinheads carry Swingline staplers nowadays?). Photos and a video interview with Tennen show no puncture wounds to his face or lips.
  • Tennen did not report the incident to police until a good 12 hours later.
Click image to enlarge

In the days following the attack, the media backed off from the hate crime angle, and like the East Lansing police, are now suspecting that Tennen was one of countless college students across the country that night who had a few drinks at an off-campus party, said or did something to offend a fellow guest and found themselves lying in a crumpled heap on the ground shortly thereafter.

“Two witnesses said they saw the victim having an argument with two other males in the front yard and one  punched him (Tennen) in the face,” [Police] Capt. Jeff Murphy said.

“There was nothing about anti-Semitic statements or about his face being stapled,” Murphy said.

“It appears to be a one-punch-to-the-face type assault,” Murphy said

Tennen’s parents aren’t giving up on their son’s account, however. It was they who notified the ADL of the attack and they have since made several public allegations that the witnesses and police may be covering up the true anti-Semitic nature of the crime.

Tennen’s father, Bruce Tennen, is determined to play the hate crime angle to the hilt:

We are in the process of engaging a high-profile governmental attorney,” Bruce Tennen said in a statement Wednesday. “It’s my hope that the assailants will be apprehended soon by the East Lansing Police Department, brought to justice and prosecuted to the fullest extent under applicable state and federal criminal laws.

Mr. Tennen may be disappointed if there turns out to be very few state and federal statutes regarding a punch in the face.

Just as in the Rogers case, though, some special interest groups are hedging their bets so that even if this case does turn out to be another hate crime hoax the perpetrator’s actions will be justified.

Shortly after Charlie Rogers was charged with making a false report a coalition of Nebraska LGBT groups noted that “It is important not to focus on the actions of any single individual,” the statement read. “As residents of Lincoln we must continue to bring our community together to declare that violence and hate are not the values of our city.”

Oddly enough, up until Rogers was charged, these same groups were very much focused on the alleged actions of three white male individuals. If they had committed these heinous acts these groups would have done everything in their power to extract the most severe penalties under law.

Now that it looks like Ms. Rogers fabricated the entire crime they’re willing to look the other way and there is no cry from them to charge Ms. Rogers with anything more than the misdemeanor of filing false charges. How exactly does this double standard “bring the community together”? Where’s the outrage now?

In a similar vein, Alex Waldman, president of MSU’s Jewish Student Union, seems just as willing to turn a blind eye in the event that Mr. Tennen might have exaggerated the events of that night.

Regardless of what the outcome of this incident is, this is an opportunity for our campus to evaluate hate toward groups, whether it’s cultural, racial or religious; hate is always there, and (for) students our age, as young adults, it is our responsibility to eliminate that.”

Hopefully, Mr. Waldman means that it is also the community’s responsibility to eliminate the irresponsible misuse of hate crime laws in the furtherance of anyone’s personal agendas.

Police have since identified and interviewed two suspects, though no arrests have been made as of this writing. We don’t know all the facts yet. Maybe the suspects really are Klan-Nazi-Skinheads so this case is still open.

As with the Charlie Rogers case, it will be worth watching this one to see just what actually happened that night.

Stay tuned for details as they come in.


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