State Reps. Adam C. Miller (D-Columbus) and Casey Weinstein (D–Hudson) today introduced legislation that would create a Hate Crimes Bureau within the Attorney General’s office in response to a recent increase in hate crimes in Ohio.
“We have to send a clear message that in Ohio, there is no place for hate,” said Rep. Miller. “This bill calls on the Attorney General to create a Hate Crimes Bureau to track hate crimes and to work with law enforcement across the state on enforcement and prevention efforts. No one should live in fear simply for who they are. This bill gives some of our most vulnerable citizens the protection they deserve.”
“As a Jewish legislator, I am keenly aware of the need for laws addressing hate crimes,” said Rep. Weinstein. “As the number of hateful incidents continues to rise, Ohio has the opportunity to lead. We can send a strong message of solidarity to at-risk communities by focusing resources not only on deterrence but prosecution of hate crimes.”
The Hate Crimes Bureau would conduct independent investigations for hate crimes when sufficient cause exists, and would offer resources to assist local, state, and federal law enforcement partners. The Attorney General would be obligated to respond to every credible report and create a database of those reports. The definition of “hate crime” would match the federal definition. At the federal level, hate crime laws include crimes committed on the basis of the victim’s perceived or actual race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, in 2019, there were more than 7,100 hate crimes reported in the United State. Of those crimes, 58 percent were based on race, ethnicity or ancestry, 20 percent were based on religion, and 17 percent were based on sexual orientation. The remainder were based on gender identity, disability and gender. These numbers do not include recent increases in hate crimes, particularly based on race, religion and gender identity.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic incidents in Ohio rose to a 40-year high in 2020, with a 72 percent increase in events from the year before. Last year’s spike in anti-Semitic incidents coincides with a survey conducted by the Claims Conference showing 46 percent of Ohioans ages 18 to 39 could not name a single concentration camp and that 64 percent were unaware 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.
Additionally, Pew Research Centers states that four-in-ten Black and Asian Americans say they have experienced discrimination since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The legislation now awaits a bill number and referral to a House committee.