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HATE-CRIME CHARGE

A black man was arrested under Florida's new hate-crimes law for calling a police officer a "white cracker."

Civil libertarians are crying foul, saying police abused the law.The charge was filed after Patrolman Stephen Keyes was sent to the home of Michael Hamm, 21, to break up an argument Monday, police said. Hamm allegedly warned, "I'll shoot you, you white cracker."

"Cracker" is a derogatory term for a poor Southern white.

The patrolman charged Hamm with assault on an officer for the threat, then tacked on the prejudice charge under a hate-crimes law enacted in 1989.