State News

Michigan's New Attorney General Tells Why She Adds a Hate Crimes Unit

February 26, 2019, 6:03 AM

Dana Nessel, who's wrapping up her second month as state attorney general, continues to make moves that signal new priorities for a new era.

Her latest action focuses on "hate crimes and the many hate groups which have been allowed to proliferate in our state," the Democratic law enforcer says.

"Hate cannot continue to flourish in our state," Nessel declares in a posted statement. "I have seen the appalling, often fatal results of hate when it is acted upon. That is why I am establishing a hate-crimes unit in my office."

Dana Nessel: "I have seen the appalling, often fatal results of hate."

Michigan has 31 active hate groups, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a national watchdog group in Montgomery, Ala.

Nessel will hire a prosecutor and an investigator to work solely on identifying and prosecuting hate crimes, spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney tells Michael Gerstein of Michigan Advance.

In a related move, the state Department of Civil Rights plans to document hate and bias incidents that can't be prosecuted as crimes or civil infractions. "Identifying and calling out hate and bias incidents is an important tool in our toolbox to educate Michiganders about the undertone of hatred in our communities," said director Agustin V. Arbulu. "But they also serve as a first step in developing community dialogs to strengthen our collective resolve to reject hate, bias and division."

Nessel isn't a newcomer to the topic. In July 2016, she and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy collaborated on the Fair Michigan Justice Project, which focused on legal protections for victims of crimes related to sexual orientation or gender identity.

Read more:  State of Michigan

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