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Dan Levy, chief legal officer of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, announced last week that two bills have been introduced in the state House of Representatives to combat hate crimes. The bills, HB 4835 and HB 4836, were introduce by Rep. Robert Jones (D-Kalamazoo) and Rep. Woodrow Stanley (D-Flint), respectively.
HB 4835 will add additional sentencing for convictions on bias motivated crimes, while HB 4836 will expand the current Ethnic Intimidation Act to include such categories as handicap, gender identity and or expression, sexual orientation and political beliefs. Similar measures were introduced last session, and passed the Democratically-controlled House 81-18. They were never taken up in the State Senate, and died at the end of the legislative session.
“We are behind this 110 percent,” Levy said. “We have every intention of moving it along. We are hoping for June hearings to coincide with the Vincent Chin death.”
Chin, Levy said, was beaten to death on the eve of his wedding more than a decade ago because his assailants thought the Chinese man was Japanese and they were upset that Japanese cars were outselling American made vehicles.
The move also coincides with a move in the U.S. Congress to pass the Matthew Shepard Act.