On April 15, 2018, two white men, 30-year-old Dusty Leo and 37-year-old Maurice Diggins, were outside a bar in Portland, Oregon, when Diggins spotted a Black man and punched him in the face breaking his jaw while shouting racial slurs at him. After that, the two white men drove to Biddeford and stopped at a 7-Eleven where Diggins randomly confronted another Black man and Leo approached him from behind and broke his jaw as well.
Both white men were charged with federal hate crimes, but only one of them received an appropriate sentence while the other became a picture-perfect example of how white privilege and perceived white innocence works in our justice system.
According to the Portland Press Herald, Diggins took his case to trial and was found guilty of two counts of committing hate crimes and one count of conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen rightfully sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
Leo, on the other hand, pleaded guilty in February 2020 to one count of conspiracy and one count of committing a hate crime and was sentenced to three years in prison and three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay more than $15,000 in restitution to the victims.
Even if one were to believe Leo’s sentence was proportionate to his crimes, the judge’s reasons for giving him a far lighter sentence is likely to raise the eyebrows of Black people who have never witnessed Black offenders, especially adult offenders, being handled with kid gloves and coddled the way this white man was.
“It is very clear to me that Mr. Diggins acted because he hates Black people,” Torresen said. “He is a white supremacist. He has tattoos all over him saying the same. For you, it appears the motivation is much more complicated. First of all, I know you were intoxicated. Secondly, you were totally in the thrall of Maurice Diggins. You sought approval. You wanted to make him proud, and apparently, you did make him proud when you pounded the face of an unsuspecting Black man who did you no harm.”
I’m sorry, but are we forgetting that Leo is a whole adult? Is a man who was in his late 20s at the time of the attacks not plenty old enough to recognize the wrong in violence and racism? Did Diggins, who is Leo’s uncle, put a gun to Leo’s head and make him break a Black man’s jaw?
And what does Leo being “intoxicated” have to do with anything? Since when is that an excuse legal officials will give anyone in defense of their actions? If you can charge motorists with DUI because they bear full responsibility for making the decision to drink and get behind the wheel, then you don’t get to go with a “blame it on the alcohol” narrative when it comes to a violent racist doing violent racist things.
Torresen is acting as if Leo was a child being influenced by an adult and not a near-30-year-old following someone who is just seven years older than him.
Listen, if the judge wanted to give Leo points for pleading guilty and taking responsibility for what he’d done, that’s fine, but a seven-year difference in sentencing for someone who basically committed the same crimes Diggins did is ridiculous.
Nina LeClair, the mother of Leo’s son, also testified that “The Dusty I know is not a racist,” and that “He loves everything. He’ll take the shirt off his back for anyone.”
And this, my friends, is how whiteness works. In the minds of the melanin-deficient, even the act of a clearly racially motivated hate crime isn’t enough to definitively prove racism.
According to the Herald, the judge also allowed Leo—who has been out of custody since his 2018 arrest—to wait until November to turn himself in to begin his sentence.
Sometimes I just really hate it here.
Violent White Folks Who Were Taken Into Custody With Loving Care By Police
1. Miami airport violence
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Last night at Miami Int’l Airport. Another FL anti-masker covidiot. (Strong language). pic.twitter.com/kO18bBFPTb— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) August 28, 2021
2. Floyd Ray Roseberry
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NEW: “The revolution is on. It’s here… I’m ready to die for the cause.”— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) August 19, 2021
Here’s video from the man who said he’s got a bomb outside the Capitol.
Follow @huffpost and @sara_bee for more as the situation develops. pic.twitter.com/aRx1hES7Vl
3. Jeffrey Nicholas
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Jeffrey Nicholas, a white man shot and killed two police officers and injured a city worker in Texas before he was able to be safely apprehended without law enforcement resorting to using lethal force.https://t.co/sLhFwxZHgg pic.twitter.com/yWd0XUg7Og— NewsOne (@newsone) May 13, 2021
4. Robert Aaron Long, suspect in Asian massage parlor killing spree in GASource:Crisp County Sheriff's Office 4 of 32
5. Duke Webb, bowling alley gunman in Rockford, IllinoisSource:Winnebago County Sheriff's Office 5 of 32
6. Car Drives Into Group Of Protesters In New YorkSource:Getty 6 of 32
7. Brad Parscale, demoted former Trump campaign managerSource:Getty 7 of 32
8. Brett HankisonSource:Shelby County Sheriff's Department 8 of 32
9. Thomas Kinworthy accused of killing Black cop, shooting another9 of 32
10. Dalton Potter allegedly shot a cop and another man
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BLUE ALERT issued for Dalton Potter, age 29. Potter is suspected of shooting a Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office deputy overnight. Last known to be on foot on Interstate 75 at the Whitfield/Gordon County line. Potter is considered armed and dangerous. Call 911. #BlueAlert pic.twitter.com/Vdyl8ReGaW— GA Bureau of Investigation (@GBI_GA) September 7, 2020
11. White suspect physically attacking officer
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Interesting.— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) August 30, 2020
Thinking about Jacob Blake right now. Sure seems like white people get the benefit of the doubt when engaged with the police... pic.twitter.com/kLh9iCJepp
12. Kyle Rittenhouse, Kenosha Jacob Blake shooterSource:Twitter 12 of 32
13. White supremacist who beat a woman on video
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Nicholas Arnold Schock, 36, of Wauchula was arrested and charged with battery and disturbing the peace and bail was set at $620. He remains at the Sarasota County Jail. pic.twitter.com/ggDBjAxCN1— Carlos R. Munoz 📰 (@ReadCarlos) August 2, 2020
14. West Hollywood shooter14 of 32
15. Gregory and Travis McMichaelsSource:Glynn County Sheriff's Office 15 of 32
16. Anthony J. Trifiletti, shot an unarmed Black manSource:Saint Paul Police Department 16 of 32
17. Matthew Bernard, Killed Three People17 of 32
18.18 of 32
19. Mark Boisey19 of 32
20. Lorne BrownSource:NBC Miami 20 of 32
21. Patrick Crusius, El Paso Mall Mass Shooting Suspect
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Patrick Crusius allegedly wrote a racist manifesto before killing at least 18 people in Saturday's shooting at Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso. The suspect, a white male, was safely taken into custody.— NewsOne (@newsone) August 3, 2019
This is America. #Walmartshooting #ElPasoShootinghttps://t.co/cjYzJZsCXn
22. Aaron DeanSource:Tarrant County Jail 22 of 32
23. Amber Guyger23 of 32
24. James Holmes
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Today on #CrimeStories: Prosecutors have released video of #Aurora shooter #JamesHolmes’ interviews w/ a psychiatrist. Tune in now on @SiriusXM ch. 111 for insight on the evaluation of his sanity in the #Colorado theater massacre. #NancyGrace #CrimeAlert #CrimeOnline #MassKiller pic.twitter.com/DKRD2s0ay8— Crime Online (@crimeonlinenews) February 26, 2019
25. Michael Mattioli25 of 32
26. Dylann RoofSource:Getty 26 of 32
27. Matthew Sloan Punched And Spit On Police...
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Again, if Matthew Sloan was a Black man this would be a much different story. https://t.co/K4cwb6SQ38— NewsOne (@newsone) July 12, 2019
28. Assaulted Police And Even Chased Them...
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This man never complied— Gambling Refund 💵™ (@OffshoreRefund) May 14, 2019
This man actually hit police multiple times
This man chased police and made them fear for safety
This man was not killed!
Pamela Turner was murdered and pregnant, she was never given the same opportunity. WHY? @KingJamespic.twitter.com/DfzdICbOy8
29. Shot At Police At Trump Tower...29 of 32
30. Shot At Police At Walmart -- And Was Let Go...30 of 32
31. Man Holds Black Man At Gunpoint And He Is Calmly Arrested...
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Downtown CHARLOTTESVILLE right now. F*ing white trash has a black man submitted first with a knife around his neck, then makes him kneel still threatening to stab him.— ℕ𝕠𝕥 𝕓𝕚𝕡𝕠𝕝𝕒𝕣 𝕥𝕠𝕕𝕒𝕪 (@tomorrowtambien) December 28, 2018
Please, Twitter do your thing in the name of justice #resist @washingtonpost @MSNBC pic.twitter.com/klg7g5ac22