Hate Crimes Reform Commentary

Submitted Commentary

Communities Combating Hate is a coalition advocating for hate crimes reform. This commentary was published in the Star Tribune on May 14, 2021 and is signed by multiple faith-based organizations in partnership across traditions and with secular organizations.

Minnesota must pass reform for hate crimes law
Every hateful incident must be counted in order for change to occur.

After the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the No Hate Act, it’s time for Minnesota elected officials to pass hate crime reform. Our national politics are deeply divided, yet three weeks ago nearly every senator voted in support of the Jabara-Heyer No Hate Act to address the troubling rise of hate across the U.S. From the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, to white nationalists defacing neighborhoods, to the myriad “lone wolf” attacks driven by hate speech that fueled attacks in Charleston, S.C., Pittsburgh and Atlanta, hate has instilled fear in our communities. Most recently, a mosque in Moorhead, Minn., was vandalized with horrific Islamophobic and racist graffiti, including a swastika. Despite media coverage of these events, countless incidents are going unreported in official state statistics. That’s because current statutes give law enforcement agencies — and law enforcement agencies alone — the discretion to track and report hate incidents in their jurisdictions. We cannot address a problem without knowing its true scale. That is why we are calling on Minnesota’s elected officials to follow the lead of the U.S. Senate and pass comprehensive hate crimes reforms. This system of law-enforcement-only reporting creates inaccurate data that does little to keep communities safe. Many victims are afraid to file police reports. Even when they do, many departments do not accurately label those incidents as hate incidents, in part because the Peace Officer Standards and Trainings Board’s hate crime training materials have not been updated since 1990. This has led to hundreds of hateful incidents going uncounted. U.S. Department of Justice estimates have put the number as high as two out of every three hate crimes are not recorded in official statistics. We must allow for non-law enforcement entities, like community organizations and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, to file hate crime reports. These institutions are trusted by their communities and they can create safe, culturally relevant channels for victims to share their stories. With only a few more days left in the legislative session, state officials must prioritize making these reforms so that we can stem the rising tide of hate. Many U.S. senators across the political spectrum understand that all of us want to feel safe in our communities, and that legislation is needed to make that happen. No matter if they were Republicans or Democrats, they voted to take action to combat hate. Now Minnesota’s lawmakers must follow suit. Communities Combating Hate is a coalition advocating for hate crimes reform at the State Capitol.

This piece is co-signed by: Erin Maye Quade, executive director, Gender Justice; Carin Mrotz, executive director, Jewish Community Action; Joe Hobot, president and CEO, American Indian OIC; Jaylani Hussein, executive director, CAIR-Minnesota; Nausheena Hussain, executive director, Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment; Beth Gendler, executive director, National Council of Jewish Women Minnesota; Bo Thao-Urabe, executive director, Coalition of Asian American Leaders; David Goldenberg, regional director, ADL Midwest; Steve Hunegs, Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas; Monica Meyer, executive director, OutFront Minnesota

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