Fargo City Commission advances hate crime ordinance proposals

If passed, the proposed ordinance could make anti-bias hate crimes punishable by up to $1,500 and could include a 30 day jail sentence.

FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) — Fargo City Commissioners vote to continue pursuing an ordinance that would make hate crimes Class B misdemeanors.

In a three to two vote Fargo city commissioners vote to move forward with a receiving and filing ordinance that would make anti-bias hate crimes punishable by up to $1,500 and could include a 30 day jail sentence.

“It’s to really tell people that that kind of targeting is not going to be tolerated,” Fargo City Commissioner Arlette Preston said.

Preston, who helped introduce the ordinance, is proposing a three group approach.

“One of the ordinances is hate crime for criminal mischief. So, if criminal mischief property damage has been targeted. The second is simple assault and then the third one is harassment,” said Preston.

A local activist who supports the ordinance says it’s time for change.

“There should be stricter penalties for people who are out there actively spreading hate and actively hurting people. So, I think that it’s important that the law reflects that. So, doubling the fines, doubling the time people spend in prison or jail time for hate crimes is very important” Activist Andrew Blackbird said.

City Commissioner Tony Gehrig who voted against implementing the proposed ordinances says they will only cause a larger divide throughout the community.

“There’s are zero examples of cities that implemented these types of laws and the crime rate went down. It never does. So, I understand that you all want to do this for a good reason, but the reality is that this does not make a difference. It does not do anything besides divide us,” Fargo City Commissioner Tony Gehrig said.

Preston who would like to see the number of hate crimes diminish says a successful passing of the anti hate crime ordinance will include an increase in hate related crimes in the area.

“We fully expect that when this gets put in place and people become more aware of it and the police department recognizes hate crimes a little more thoroughly then our numbers will go up just because they are under reported right now,” added Preston.

The first reading of the proposed ordinance will be in two weeks at the next city commission meeting.

Categories: Crime, North Dakota News