Hate groups and their members have long taken refuge behind the very democratic rights that they commonly seek to deny to others. For example, they claim that conducting hate marches for the purpose of disrupting church services and intimidating parishioners is an exercise of “free speech.” They falsely accuse religious organizations of illegal conduct while at the same time issuing death threats against ministers and staff as well as threatening to bomb church buildings. And when a religious person or group notifies or requests protection from law enforcement, the bigots do their utmost to intimidate and discourage their victims from taking legal recourse.
In recent years, however, due to an increased awareness of the very real threat posed by hate groups, religious organizations are stepping forward to defend their rights. More often than not, governments and law enforcement agencies welcome such cooperation. And, as a result, hate-mongers are finding it more and more difficult to put a benign spin on their destructive actions.
While new hate crimes legislation is still pending, Canada is one among several democratic nations that is providing effective protection from hate crimes through the enforcement of current laws.
In May of 2001, convicted hate criminal, Keith Henson, fled the United States for Toronto, Canada, rather than face sentencing and probable imprisonment in California.
Canadian Immigration officials, Toronto Metro Police and Halton Regional Police acted swiftly and arrested Henson on May 28th for having failed to disclose his conviction in the United States upon entering Canada. “We get notified by Scientology, we check, and he’s an undesirable,” Toronto Police Fugitive Squad Detective Phil Glavin said of Henson. “We look on the Internet, and he’s a self-proclaimed bomb expert.” The arrest of this fugitive was conducted with the effective cooperation of three law enforcement agencies under current laws without risk to the public at large.
Apparently Henson believed he would be given free reign in Canada to continue his hate campaign against the Church of Scientology by organizing hate marches in front of local churches and stirring up hatred amongst fellow extremists via the internet. However, while Canadian authorities released Henson on bail pending a final disposition of his case, they were not taken in by his attempts to appear harmless. Henson is restrained by court order from coming within 100 feet of any Scientology Church.
Thus frustrated in his goal, Henson and local anti-religious extremist William Gregg Hagglund, who was temporarily detained at the time of Henson’s arrest, attempted to bring charges against the arresting officers.
After a careful review of the facts of this case, police officials found that Hagglund and Henson’s allegations were unsubstantiated; the officers involved acted properly and in accordance with the law. In addition, according to Henson’s own internet postings, the report found:
“In the investigation of this allegation it became clear that the complainants hold very strong views about the Church of Scientology as a result of their lengthy and adversarial relationship with it. Underlying their specific complaint about the actions of the subject officers is the feeling that the officers were somehow involved in or part of a plan initiated by the Church of Scientology which targeted the complainants. This investigation revealed no evidence that the subject officers or any other members of the Toronto Police Service acted in this way or were otherwise unprofessional in their dealings with the complainants.
“The decision to ask for the assistance of the Halton Regional Police Service Emergency Services Unit in the arrest and detention of the complainants was made by [subject officer] in consultation with [subject officer] and a supervisor of the Toronto Police Service Emergency Task Force. In arriving at this decision [subject officer] considered both what it was he was trying to accomplish and the various pieces of information he was aware of which might affect his ability to accomplish it. [Subject officer] stated that he received Henson’s file and learned that a warrant for the arrest of Henson had already been issued by Citizenship and Immigration. His job, therefore, was to locate Henson, arrest him on the strength of the existing warrant and have him brought before the appropriate authorities for an immigration hearing.
“[Subject officer] learned from an official of the California Department of Justice, District Attorney [redacted], that Henson had a history of familiarity and proficiency with explosives. [Subject officer] states he learned Henson was believed to be providing information on the construction of pipe bombs over the Internet. As a result of these pieces of information [subject officer] came to the conclusion that the arrest of Henson potentially involved higher risks than other types of arrests and that he should make some efforts to address these risks. There is nothing to suggest this was an unreasonable conclusion to arrive at.”
Complainants: William G. Hagglund and Keith Henson Complaint Number: 2001-EXT-0364 Investigated by: Detective [redacted] (6274) Public Complaints Investigation Bureau
The report also takes note of a direct quote from Hagglund on the issue of the arrest. While making wild assertions against the police officers in his complaint, Hagglund also stated:
“…the Halton Police Emergency Task Force had acted professionally and gained total control of this situation in moments. They were, given the circumstances, courteous and considerate…”
Therein, with his own words, Hagglund admits the truth of the situation and his attempt to obfuscate the proper and legal arrest of a fugitive goes awry.
The example set by Canadian law enforcement in this incident demonstrates that through increased communication between religious groups and law enforcement, the effective enforcement of existing laws, as well as the creation of new, advanced legislation, hate crimes can be prevented and the rights of all citizens protected.
Note: On July 20, 2001, a Riverside County, California, Judge sentenced Keith Henson in absentia to one-year in county jail. As an alternative, the Judge ruled that Henson could accept a six-month jail term, three years probation, and pay a $2,000 fine. He would be restricted from going near the Church he had harassed and be subject to search for explosive devices. The Judge also stated that when Henson returns to the United States he will, in addition, face up to half a year in jail and a $1,000 fine, plus penalty assessments, for having failed to appear at the sentencing hearing on May 16, 2001.