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Bill Would Expand Protection Against Hateful Threats, Assault, And Vandalism

Vetustense Photorogue

The Oregon Senate has approved a bill that widens the definition – and consequences – of crimes based on a victim’s characteristics and identity.  KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.  

Senate Bill 356 renames “intimidation” crimes as bias crimes.  It also adds sex and ethnicity to the list of characteristics already prohibited as motivators for threatening or assaulting another person.

Credit Crossroads Foundation / Flickr.com

Randy Blazak is with the Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crimes. He testified in support of the bill.  He says it clarifies the language of the state’s existing hate crime statute.

“…including the notion of what constitutes a 1st degree hate crime in the state of Oregon," Blazak tells KLCC.

"Previously before this bill you had to have two people involved - sort of a type of conspiracy - and we know from our sad experience, that sometimes one person can commit a pretty heinous hate crime.”

Under the bill, instigators could pay damages to victims, including for emotional distress.

The Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association testified against the bill.  Among its arguments is that factors outside character traits may spur an assault, so bias may not apply to an assailant’s motives.

The bill now goes to the Oregon House of Representatives.

Copyright 2017, KLCC. 

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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