Lawyer rips Idaho prosecutor for not charging 18-year-old man, who allegedly yelled racist and sexual slurs at U. women’s basketball players

May 10, 2024, 6:00 PM

Police in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, detain people pulled from a U-Haul truck near the city's Pride celebration, on June 11 (Photo courtesy of Georji Brown)

(Photo courtesy of Georji Brown)

SALT LAKE CITY — A northern Idaho prosecutor won’t bring hate-crime charges against an 18-year-old man accused of shouting racist and sexual slurs at members of the University of Utah women’s basketball team during the NCAA Tournament on March 21.

In 2022, 21 hate and antigovernment groups were tracked in Idaho

After an investigation, the Coeur d’Alene Police Department determined that “Anthony Richard Myers, a student at Post Falls High School, made the offensive statement containing the racial slur, to which he subsequently confessed during interviews with law enforcement,” Ryan S. Hunter, chief deputy city attorney, wrote in a charging decision May 3, as reported by Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls Press.

Coeur d’Alene prosecutor: No charges in racial incident involving University of Utah basketball team

“Our office shares in the outrage sparked by Anthony Myers’s abhorrently racist and misogynistic statement, and we join in unequivocally condemning that statement and the use of a racial slur in this case or in any circumstance,” Hunter wrote.

“However, that cannot, under current law, form the basis for criminal prosecution in this case.”

Prosecutors ultimately decided they lacked sufficient evidence to bring charges against Myers. 

Idaho’s hate crime law only makes racial harassment a crime if it is done with the intent to either threaten or cause physical harm to a person or their property. The man who shouted the slur told police he did it because he thought it would be funny, Hunter wrote as reported by NBC News.

How are racist and sexual slurs funny?

KSL Legal Analyst Greg Skordas discusses details of the case and what is and isn’t protected speech with Dave and Debbie.

“I just don’t see how any reasonable person in America in 2024 can find those types of racial comments and the sexual comments that were made to be anything except threatening and offensive. I mean there’s nothing funny about them,” Skordas said.

He added that the age of the man accused of shouting the slurs may have been a factor in prosecutors’ decision not to bring charges.

“Maybe it is some concession that this is an 18-year-old high school kid who probably has learned his lesson. Hopefully, he doesn’t think he’s still funny, and his name is now been disclosed.

“Maybe there will be some repercussions there. Maybe he will learn something. Maybe he’ll he’ll apologize and become a different person,” Skordas said.

What about freedom of speech?

Where does the First Amendment protection of free speech end and a hate crime begin?

“If he makes those thoughts in some sort of written statement or just says them publicly, not directed at any person, I guess arguably that’s free speech.

“But these are directed to people, these are directed to a group of black women who are there just to play basketball, and they’re there minding their own business,” Skordas said.

“It’s not free speech anymore. It becomes intimidating speech. It becomes harassing speech, and it probably becomes at least misdemeanor offense.”


No charges filed in racist incident against Utah’s women’s basketball team; NAACP responds

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Lawyer rips Idaho prosecutor for not charging 18-year-old man, who allegedly yelled racist and sexual slurs at U. women’s basketball players