Sen. Latz & Rep. Hornstein Announce New Legislation to Address Hate Crimes

ST. PAUL, MN – Senator Ron Latz (DFL- St. Louis Park) and Representative Frank Hornstein announced legislation today to expand and improve reporting of hate crimes in Minnesota. HF 3837 requires updated training for peace officers on crimes motivated by bias, and directs the Minnesota Department of Human Rights to consult with the Board of Peace Officer Standards on proposed improvements.

Over the course of six months last year, Minnesota Attorney General Ellison held seven town hall meetings across the state focused on hate crimes with a broad coalition of elected officials, religious and community leaders, and impacted community members. The legislation announced today is a result in part of these conversations. Rep. Hornstein attended several of the meetings and was moved by the large attendance, interest, and stories from Minnesotans.

“Our new bill will raise awareness of the urgent need to update our hate crime statutes,” said Rep. Hornstein. “It gives law enforcement and communities the tools they need to address this mounting concern. All Minnesotans deserve to feel safe.”

The legislation also amends the criminal damage to property when damage is motivated by bias.

“When determining if a bias motivated property crime has occurred, current law focuses on the identity of the property owner,” said Ethan Roberts, Director of the Twin Cities Jewish Community Government Affairs  “HF 3837 shifts that focus to the motive of the perpetrator, as well as the potential adverse impact the crime has on the community. We believe these modest changes will be particularly useful for bias crimes where the damaged property is public, such as a park or a school.”

“Hate – and hate crimes – continue to infect our communities, corroding public unity and impeding our quality of life in Minnesota,” said Sen. Ron Latz. “We punish crimes motivated by hate more severely because they are crimes against our communities, not just the individuals targeted by the offense. Yet, we cannot most effectively address this problem unless we have information as to the scope and depth of the issue. This bill will allow our law enforcement agencies to utilize new tools to shine a light on the number of real hate crimes across our state, will create best practice approaches to dealing with crimes motivated by bias, and allow law enforcement to have the ability to successfully identify hate crimes that currently may not be recognized as such.”

“Hate and bias motivated incidents not only impact one victim but intimidate an entire community. The Jewish community is proud to work with law enforcement and our community partners to improve how Minnesotans recognize, respond to, and report hate and bias motivated incidents in Minnesota,” added Steve Hunegs, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

Nationally, bias incidents and hate crimes directed at Muslims are significantly more common than in previous years.

“Minnesotans must stand against hate no matter who is targeted and must protect places of worship,” said Mohamed Omar, Imam of the Dar Al-Farooq Center. The Bloomington mosque was bombed in August of 2017.

Anti-LGBTQ hate crimes are also rising across the country.

“In 2019, OutFront Minnesota worked with 266 people who were targeted for hate and bias crimes because they are LGBTQ,” said Monica Meyer, Executive Director of OutFront Minnesota. “This legislation will help ensure law enforcement have the tools needed to identify and report hate crimes.”

HF 3837 will receive a public hearing in the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Division this evening at 6:00 p.m. in the Basement Hearing Room of the State Office Building.

Senator Ron Latz
Ron Latz represents District 46, which includes portions of Hennepin County in the western Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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