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Shaw: Hate crime legislation in N.D. is long overdue

The push is on for hate crime legislation in North Dakota, to which I say...

--It's long overdue. North Dakota is shamefully, but not surprisingly, one of only five state states without such laws. Meantime, North Dakota disturbingly has the second highest hate crime rate in the nation. There were dozens of hate crimes in the state in 2015 that were motivated by the victim's race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. This is a real problem that needs to be addressed by the see no evil legislature. It's time in this state to be more supportive to our friends and neighbors who are not white, Christian or straight.

Some recent incidents include a beating of a Somali-American man driving a taxi in West Fargo, racial slurs and an assault against a Somali-American man while moving into his Fargo apartment, and the firebombing of a Somali-American owned restaurant in Grand Forks. Before that restaurant exploded, the criminal painted the words, "go home" on the building. That restaurant was a place that provided free meals to the unemployed and newcomers.

Meanwhile, hate crimes, such as last week's horrific bombing of a mosque in Bloomington, Minn., have dramatically risen in the U.S. since Donald Trump was elected president. This should be no surprise since his inflammatory words and actions encourage anger against Mexicans, Muslims and members of the LGBT community.

Last year was the deadliest year on record against the LGBT community. Among the victims was Danielle Smith, a white bisexual woman from Missouri, who was stabbed to death and burned because of her sexual orientation. Her mother was also murdered. Trump's latest nasty efforts to change legal immigration laws, ban transgender people from the military, and take equal protections away from gays will unfortunately inspire more haters. Some argue that hate crime laws are not necessary. Well, those federal hate crime laws were used to prosecute white supremacist Dylan Roof for shooting to death nine innocent African Americans during a bible study at their church in South Carolina. Many bigots live in North Dakota and throughout the U.S. Some of those bigots will deliberately attack people because of how they look, how they pray or who they love. It is time to send a message in North Dakota that this kind of conduct is unacceptable and that perpetrators will pay the price.

--A local band I can't say enough good things about is Post-Traumatic Funk Syndrome. The band recently performed a concert at The Sanctuary in Fargo where they played music from the band Chicago. The show was fantastic. You can catch PTFS on Thursday at Bluestem performing with the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony, in a tribute to some of the great musical artists who passed away over the last year.

--The head of the Boy Scouts called me to say last week's column is the greatest column he's ever read.

Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV new director. He can be heard Fridays, 11 a.m. to noon, on WDAY AM radio. Email jimshawtv@gmail.com

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