PRIDE advocate speaks out supporting creation of North Dakota hate crime law
A parade and rally wrapped up Fargo-Moorhead PRIDE 2017, bringing LGBTQ+ community members and allies alike together to show that our community won’t tolerate hate or discrimination. Though great strides have been made, many people still agreed that more work needs to be done so everyone is treated equally under the law.
A topic that hit the top of the PRIDE rally was the topic of hate crimes. While the Fargo-Moorhead community is supportive and welcoming of those who identify as LGBTQ+, Fargo doesn’t have any specific hate crime ordinances and the state of North Dakota does not have any hate crime laws. PRIDE advocate John Strand said “I do believe we need some policies on the books to address these circumstances when they happen.”
In North Dakota, LGBTQ+ people are not considered a protected class and Republican leaders in the state point to the Federal protections already in place for why they won’t pass what’s become known as non-discrimination ordinances. Strand, and others at the rally, disagree saying, “the only protections that exist are at the Federal level but you can’t turn everything into a Federal investigation.”
While a hate crime law can be created, people can and will break it. Deputy Chief Joe Anderson of the Fargo Police Department says there are already laws in place to deter crimes like assault, battery, and harassment, but those are broken as is, and a hate crime law would only be used when reporting those crimes to the BCI and FBI. He also says the department currently has a secondary bias charge that can be tacked on if a crime occurs based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion. Anderson says the Fargo Police Department takes all targeted crimes very seriously.
PRIDE organizers say the fact that dozens of businesses and community members support pride each year shows this area is more accepting than what some people who don’t live here think.