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MN Bill Would Address Hate Crime Issues

The FBI says Minnesota saw a nearly 15% decline in hate crimes in 2018, but authorities say many of these incidents go unreported. (Adobe Stock)
The FBI says Minnesota saw a nearly 15% decline in hate crimes in 2018, but authorities say many of these incidents go unreported. (Adobe Stock)
March 5, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota lawmakers might soon consider a bill that would broaden the scope of the state's hate crime policies.

The legislation would expand efforts to report incidents, enhance training for law enforcement when investigating such crimes and make it easier to prosecute those who damage property with hateful messages.

Carly Hoffman of Edina, who is Jewish, was prompted to speak out for change after a swastika was found on a building at her child's school.

"With one swastika, I felt sad and scared for my children and my family," she says. "I wondered if it was safe to send my kids to school. "

Supporters of the bill say the changes are needed at a time when there's been a prevalence of hate crimes. Even though Minnesota saw a decrease in such crimes during the latest year on record, authorities say many go unreported.

The proposal calls for community groups to work with authorities in encouraging victims to report incidents.

Mendota Heights Police Chief Kelly McCarthy says that would be a big help.

"If you're already distrustful of the police, you may not want to report it to us, and then that's where the gap is," she states. "And so allowing an alternative through community groups, or through the Department of Human Rights, will help us get a better and more accurate picture of what's really going on."

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are an estimated 250,000 hate crimes each year in the U.S., however more than 50% of the time they go unreported.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN