Minucci's attorney's defense is that is wasn't a hate crime because the word nigger was used as a term of endearment by his client. The attorney goes on to cite the frequency in which the term is used in the entertainment industry, especially by Blacks. A term of endearment and then crack your skull with an aluminum bat? I don't think so.
This case is likely (and should) initiate much debate on the subject. But, so what? Who's going to take action in the entertainment industry and in our families to stop this madness?
White N.Y. Teen Accused of Hate Crime Using ‘N-Word as Greeting’ in Defense
Date: Wednesday, May 24, 2006
By: Leonard Greene, Special to BlackAmericaWeb.com
A white teenager accused of a hate crime in last year’s baseball bat attack of a black man in New York that rekindled some of the city’s worst racial tensions is banking on a creative, yet controversial, defense.
Nicholas Minucci admits that he cracked Glenn Moore over the head with an aluminum bat in New York’s Howard Beach section on June 29, but only in self-defense. And the defendant concedes that he used the N-word before fracturing the victim’s skull. But he insists that he didn’t mean anything bad by the term.
“There's a very big difference in the hip-hop world that I come from,” Minucci, 19, told a reporter months before his trial, which began yesterday. “I was the only Italian in a school of 2,000 mostly African-American kids. We always called each other 'n----' all the time.” And, therein lies the crux of Minucci’s defense: He is the product of a culture that has embraced the N-word as a popular greeting, even across racial lines. In other words, using the N-word doesn’t necessarily make someone a racist.
Trial watchers call it the “hip-hop defense.” Critics call it a load of crap.
“A jury will listen to that, but I think they’ll see right through it,” Roy Miller, an Atlanta attorney who is urging black organizations across the country to issue resolutions discouraging use of the N-word, told BlackAmericaWeb.com.
A jury of four blacks, four whites, three Hispanics and one Asian will hear that argument in a trial that is gaining just as much attention for its historic connection.
Cops said Moore, 26, was attacked in the same neighborhood where, nearly 20 years earlier, a black man was hit by a car and killed on a busy highway while fleeing a mob of white teens who had attacked him and his two black friends for wandering in their almost exclusively white neighborhood. Michael Griffith’s death in 1986 polarized much of New York, and made Howard Beach synonymous with racism.
Unlike the 1986 victims, who were stranded in Howard Beach when their car broke down, Moore and his friends admitted they were up to no good, canvassing the neighborhood in search of a car to steal.
But Minucci and his alleged accomplices knew nothing of their intent, according to police, who said the white teens shouted racial epithets at Moore and two of his friends, who escaped unharmed.
Prosecutors said Minucci and two white friends drove up to Moore and his two black friends, who fled and got away. After they caught Moore, Minucci struck him in the head with a baseball bat, and took his sneakers, officials said.
Minucci, an alleged mob wannabe who goes by the name “Fat Nick,” told investigators in a videotaped interrogation after his arrest that he said, “What up, ni----,” to Moore before they scuffled.
“The evidence will show Nicholas Minucci was using reasonable physical force to prevent a larceny,” said defense attorney Albert Gaudelli.
Gaudelli spent last week quizzing prospective jurors on the N-word, trying to determine what emotions its use would trigger. Gaudelli asked about rap music and hip-hop culture and whether or not in those contexts the N-word had lost its sting.
Prosecutors, meanwhile, reminded jurors that it is Minucci who is on trial, not a pejorative word. “This case is not about the ’N’ word, and whether its meaning has changed,” Assistant District Attorney Mariela Palomino Herring told the jury in her opening argument. “Clearly, it has not.” Randy Fisher, executive director of the Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council, a non-profit organization with ties to rapper LL Cool J and Def Jam founder Russell Simmons, said Minucci’s defense is unique.
“I do know of a lot of white people who use the word in urban white areas,” Fisher told BlackAmericaWeb.com, “but what are you going to do: start a fight with every white kid who uses the word, when we as a people are still using the word? That would be contradictory.” Minucci faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
With such widespread use, it was only a matter of time before white people used the word to their advantage, some observers said.
“It’s unfortunate that they’re using this as part of the defense,” said Jill Merritt, who launched a website to educate readers about the word’s history. “We’ve used the word so freely that it can now be a scapegoat for racists.”
© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged