As with all African Americans at the time, Richard is negatively impacted by the Jim Crow laws and the deep racial prejudice they represent. He's effectively a second-class citizen in white Southern society, and the Jim Crow laws are there to remind him of that uncomfortable fact at every single turn.
What's particularly notable in Richard's case is the extraordinary violence that mars his life, and which is either directly or indirectly the product of Jim Crow. Legalized segregation doesn't just keep the races apart; it keeps them in a state of mutual hatred and ignorance. All too often, the only interaction that occurs between the races is through acts of physical violence. Richard's mother gives him a thick stick with which to defend himself against the white boys in the neighborhood, always looking to take any chance they can get to beat him up.
Due to his experiences of Jim Crow, Richard internalizes violence, seeing it as the only way he can gain any kind of control over his life. The injustices of the Jim Crow laws provide him with what he thinks is a justification for the use of violence. When he and his friends throw rocks and other small objects, Richard imagines that he's using much more lethal weapons. He starts to engage in acts of violence that are completely mindless and have nothing whatsoever to do with self-defense. These include acts of animal cruelty and arson. The message is clear: the Jim Crow laws don't simply oppress African Americans; they corrupt their very souls.