Grand Forks City Council debates proposed hate crime ordinance

Grand Forks looks to join Fargo as the only cities with hate crime ordinences

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (KVRR) – City Council members in Grand Forks issue a first draft of hate crime ordinances similar to Fargo’s which passed last June.

Grand Forks City Council is reviewing proposed hate crime ordinances related to assault, harassment, criminal mischief and terrorizing.

Council Member Katie Dachtler and Grand Forks Police Officer Brian Samson drafted the first four ordinances and shared them during Monday’s council meeting. If it passes, violators of hate crimes in the city could be punished with 30 days in jail and face a maximum fine up to $1,500. The intent is to make people who may act on their biases think twice with harsher punishments.

“A hate crime or hate crime ordinances are designed to specifically protect historically excluded people who have traditionally and to this day, experience unsafety in their everyday life,” Dachtler said.

Dachtler added the laws are a way to show protected classes they are welcome in the community and if an incident happens, protected classes will have an avenue to defend themselves in the legal system.

Some in the meeting were a bit apprehensive about its potential effects.

“I’m all for taking care of the people of Grand Forks and wanting everyone to know that we believe in them and want them protected. If there’s a way for us to have an enhanced penalty for an assault, could we do it for all assaults? Because all we’re doing is labeling something hate,” Grand Forks City Council President Dana Sande said.

Dachtler thinks it will change the way North Dakota writes its laws.

“It also doesn’t document it the way it should be documented. Because I think if we want to stop the flow of people moving away from North Dakota especially young people, we have to take stock of what laws are here, what kind of communities are we building, how do we support growth?” Dachtler said.

Grand Forks City Council will continue discussion in Monday’s meeting. If it passes, Fargo and Grand Forks will be the only cities in the state with hate crime ordinances.

Categories: Local News, North Dakota News, Politics / Elections