‘We want to make sure that everyone is safe from any hate crimes’ ⋆

A group of metro Detroit leaders held a press conference in Detroit on Wednesday calling on the Legislature to finish its work to reform and strengthen Michigan’s ethnic intimidation law. 

“We want to make sure that everyone is safe from any hate crimes,” said JeDonna Dinges, a Grosse Pointe Woods resident and leader of the Ethnic Intimidation Law Amendment Work Group. 

Dinges was joined by Focus: HOPE CEO Portia Roberson, Detroit NAACP Executive Director Kamilia Landrum, Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development (LASED) Chair Jane Garcia, Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Emily Corwin and Wayne County Commission Chair Alisha Bell. 

The work group has partnered with the Oakland County Democratic Party to hold a Community Conservations event from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 26 at the Sheet Metal Workers Local 80, 17100 W. 12 Mile Road, Southfield 48076. 

Before breaking for the summer, the Democratic-led House  on June 20 approved HB 4474, which is sponsored by state Rep. Noah Arbit (D-West Bloomfield). There has been pushback from Republicans and misinformation about the legislation in right-wing media.

“As a proud Jew and a gay man, I will never sit idly by and watch as any community in this state faces rising hate violence,” Arbit said on June 20. “Today, we are one step closer to delivering on my promise to transform Michigan from a national laggard to a national leader in hate crime prevention, intervention, and response. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Michigan Senate to ensure this vital legislation reaches the Governor’s desk swiftly.”

The legislation is part of a set of measures, House Bills 4474 to 4477, that would enact the Michigan Hate Crime Act and the Institutional Desecration Act, update sentencing guidelines and make it easier to prosecute individuals who target others for their ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability. 

The bills would:

  • House Bill 4474, sponsored by Arbit, would create the Michigan Hate Crime Act.
  • House Bill 4475, sponsored by state Rep. Kristian Grant (D-Grand Rapids), would update sentencing guidelines related to the act.
  • House Bill 4476, sponsored by Arbit, would create the Institutional Desecration Act.
  • House Bill 4477, sponsored by state Rep. Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton), would update sentencing guidelines related to the act.

Dignes called on the Democratic-controlled Senate to also approve the bill.

Dinges experienced racial intimidation in Grosse Pointe Park in 2021. On Feb. 15 of that year, the African-American resident noticed that a Ku Klux Klan flag was in her neighbor’s window. Grosse Pointe Park’s Department of Public Safety sent detectives to visit Dinges’ neighbor and told him to take down the flag.

Bell, an African-American Detroit resident, said she was saddened to learn of the Grosse Pointe Park incident involving Dinges. Roberson said her organization, a social justice and workforce development nonprofit, also backs the legislation. 

“We are proud that HB 4474 has passed out of the House and heads to the Senate,” said Roberson, who is also chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. 

Landrum and Garcia agreed. 

“We are working together to provide security to all individuals who are living in this state. It is important for us to not back down,” Landrum said.  

Corwin said that “these laws are long overdue.” 

authored by Ken Coleman
First published at https%3A%2F%2Fmichiganadvance.com%2F2023%2F08%2F09%2Fwe-want-to-make-sure-that-everyone-is-safe-from-any-hate-crimes%2F

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