Today on the Senate Floor Senator Hawj introduced an amendment as part of SF 970, the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety omnibus finance bill. Senator Hawj’s amendment would have provided the Department of Human Rights resources to strengthen the reporting of bias incidents. This reporting and data collection would then have been used by the Department and the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to help develop training manuals to strengthen law enforcement’s ability to identify and respond to hate crimes.
The amendment would have also closed loopholes to ensure that hate crimes, particularly ones that include destruction of property, would have been charged as hate crimes. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans voted against this amendment and it was not included in the bill.
In response to the vote on his amendment, DFL Assistant Minority Leader Foung Hawj (DFL-St. Paul) released the following statement:
“I am extremely disappointed that the Senate Republicans voted against this amendment. Incidences of racially driven harassment have occurred for years and the COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the number of incidences reported. As a state that celebrates its rich history and diversity, we cannot sit by and allow acts of violence against any of our communities to occur,” said Senator Hawj. “This amendment would have been a step forward to address bias in our communities and respond to the urgent need to add additional training for our law enforcement in an effort to keep our marginalized communities safe from bias. As leaders, the Minnesota Senate must strongly denounce the discrimination, harassment, and violence that is occurring against our communities and pass legislation that could drastically improve people’s lives.”