THE CRIME was bad enough. Thugs attacked a waitress leaving her job at a downtown Annapolis restaurant late at night three weeks ago, hitting her with a rock, breaking her nose and causing a severe cut on her hand.
What's worse is that her attackers may have singled her out because of her race. A witness told police that the group's motivation for the assault was race - that they didn't like whites and Mexicans.
If prosecutors determine race was a factor, they should make sure that the hate-crime charges lodged against the three teen-agers stick, along with armed robbery and assault charges.
Unfortunately, that didn't happen when a man was charged with vandalizing the statue of the late Aris T. Allen, a black Annapolis physician and legislator. Anne Arundel County prosecutors failed. Charges against the defendant were dropped after witnesses did not show up for the trial. The state's attorney's office is responsible for ensuring that witnesses appear.
Anne Arundel has had its share of racially motivated crimes. Most recently, vandals sprayed racial epithets on the home of a black minister in Gambrills. Disgusting.
Dropped charges send the wrong message about how seriously hate crimes are regarded. This time, prosecutors must send a different signal - and perhaps the message will get through.