LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – In an effort to address the rise in hate crimes in Michigan, lawmakers came together in Lansing to announce new legislation that could help combat these crimes.
Lawmakers from all different backgrounds gathered to introduce the Michigan Hate Crime Act & Institutional Desecration Act.
“The Michigan hate crime act updates Michigan’s hate crime law that’s currently on the books. It expands it to LGBTQ people, as well as people with disabilities and a number of other categories. As well as strengthen our ability to prosecute,” said State Rep. Noah Arbit (D-West Bloomfield.)
“It’s very personal to me, I represent the most Jewish district in the state of Michigan. And I’m also a gay man. To be part of communities that are increasingly facing the brunt of rising hate crimes in the state and across the country, it’s galvanized me into action,” he said.
In 2021, Michigan had about 400 hate crimes and targeted incidents based on race, religion, sexual orientation or disabilities.
“Personally growing up in the 2000s openly gay from 16 on, it was difficult for some years there,” said Lansing City Councilmember Ryan Kost.
Kost is part of the LGBTQ+ community. He remembers last year when someone repeatedly burned gay pride flags in Lansing.
Nobody was arrested.
“It hurts that that person wasn’t caught. But I’m also proud that the community came together on that issue,” said Kost. “Anybody who’s gonna destroy something like that it should be a hate crime just like the synagogues that have been damaged down in Detroit.”
Now that legislation has been introduced, Kost has a message to the man who burned the flag.
“Your hate has no place, not in Lansing and hopefully soon in the state of Michigan.”
The new bills would force anyone convicted of a hate crime to undergo cultural training and the penalties would increase for repeat offenders.