Legislation to address hate crimes introduced in the Legislature

DFL legislators from the Senate and House held a press conference this week to announce legislation to improve and expand reporting of hate crimes in Minnesota. Hate-crimes and bias-motivated incidents are on the rise across the country and it’s time for Minnesota to update its hate-crime reporting laws to promote more accurate and truthful reporting of these crimes so justice may be served.

Minnesota punishes crimes motivated by hate more severely because they are crimes against our communities, not just the individuals targeted by the offense. However, to most effectively address this problem, we need to have information on the scope and depth of the issue. This bill will allow law enforcement to utilize new tools to shine a light on the number of real hate crimes across our state, create best practice approaches to dealing with crimes motivated by bias, and train law enforcement officers to successfully identify hate crimes that currently may not be recognized as such.

The bill also changes how damage to property is reported when damage is motivated by bias. State law only focuses on the identity of the property owner when determining if a bias motivated property crime has occurred. This legislation shifts the focus to the motive of the perpetrator as well as to the potential adverse impact the crime has on the community.

Senate DFLers believe this legislation will raise awareness around the urgent need to update Minnesota’s hate crime law and give law enforcement and communities the tools they need to address this mounting concern. No matter where we were born, how we pray, or what we look like, all Minnesotans deserve safe communities and a fair justice system. (HF 3837)