Correction: The conference opened with a speech from MCRC vice-chair Zenna Elhasan, rather than Anupama Kosaraju as previously stated, according to MCRC. Additionally, Detroit Police Chief James White was not at the conference, but members of his police department were present.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — A conference Thursday hosted by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights centers on the problem of hate crimes.

The MI Response to Hate conference is going on until 3 p.m. at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Legislating Against Hate.”

The conference commemorates the lives of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. and the passage of the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Both Shepard and Byrd were murdered in hate crimes 25 years ago.

MI Response to Hate will feature several expert panelists, including representatives from the Detroit Police Department. The conference began with a speech from Michigan Civil Rights Commission vice-chair Zenna Elhasan.

“Our future prosperity and security of all of our people will depend on our nation dealing swiftly with this rise in hate crimes and extremism,” Elhasan said.  “We must recognize our legacy on what has propelled our country to become the most prosperous nation on earth and we continue to be the beacon of freedom and opportunity.”