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  • Writer's pictureTram T. Nguyen

We need to strengthen Mass. hate crimes law

FEBRUARY 23, 2020. On this date, two years ago, three men stalked and murdered Ahmaud Arbery because they didn’t think a Black man belonged in the neighborhood. This date resonates more right now, as those three men have been convicted of federal hate crimes charges.

Why go through a federal trial, when they already have been sentenced to life for murder in Georgia? Because Georgia didn’t have applicable hate crimes laws at the time of the murder. And because it’s important to take a stand against criminal racist behavior. It’s essential to hold perpetrators accountable when their crime not only takes a life, but threatens an entire community’s ability to feel safe. Silence in the face of crimes rooted in hatred only breeds more hate.

When the Arbery case made headlines, here in Massachusetts our own attorney general’s office looked at our hate crime statutes. If such a crime happened in our state today, could the perpetrators be charged with a hate crime? Sadly, the answer is: unlikely. So Attorney General Maura Healey, along with state Sen. Adam Hinds, and myself, filed H.1819, An Act to reform the hate crime statutes, to update our laws and hold attackers accountable for crimes motivated by animus towards groups of people.

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