Kyle Feldscher, State News (East Lansing), September 14, 2008
The second annual MI Response to Hate conference spread awareness of the growing problem of hate and bias-motivated crimes in Michigan on Friday.
The conference was hosted by the Michigan Alliance Against Hate Crimes and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights at Kellogg Center.
In 2006, the Department of Justice reported there were 653 hate crimes and 739 bias-motivated crimes in the state of Michigan, in its report “Hate Crime Statistics, 2006.” Michigan ranks third overall in the country in hate and bias-motivated crimes.
Linda V. Parker, director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, said Michigan’s hate crime numbers can be attributed to the state’s compliance with reporting hate crimes and its segregated racial climate.
“I think that part of it is due to the fact that people do not want to live, or have their children educated, by people who look different than them,” Parker said.
Of Michigan’s 739 bias-motivated crimes, nearly three-fourths were racially motivated—a total of 477.
The conference’s keynote speaker, Lt. Brett Parson of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, said increased awareness through diversity training is something his department does to limit the spread of hate crimes.