City leaders denounce hate crimes - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

City leaders denounce hate crimes

NAACP Spokane President V. Anne Smith and City Council President Joe Shogun NAACP Spokane President V. Anne Smith and City Council President Joe Shogun
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SPOKANE, Wash. - One week after a noose was found on the front porch of a local human rights worker's home, the City of Spokane is sending a unified message: Hate will not be tolerated in the Lilac City.

The noose was left on Rachel Dolezal's front porch Sunday. Dolezal, the education director of the Coeur d'Alene's Human Rights Education Institute says the noose was left in an apparent threat against the black family.

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner said she was compelled by last week's incident to bring the issue to center stage in Spokane, noting it only brought to light the increase in hate related crimes that have been seen in the city this year.

The President of the Spokane NAACP, V. Anne Smith and City Council President Joe Shogun joined Mayor Verner Wednesday at City Hall in speaking out against hate crimes.

"Today, we in Spokane are not silent, we are taking a stand. We do not tolerate hate. We do not tolerate crimes motivated by hate and those who hate are not welcome here," said Mayor Verner.

The complete intolerance to hate crimes Mayor Verner spoke of comes at a time when hate crimes are on the rise in Spokane.

In 2008, 14 hate crimes were reported compared to 25 that have been reported so far this year.

Spokane NAACP President V. Anne Smith urged the mayor to reconvene a committee on racial injustice that was present in Spokane a decade ago.
 
"As an African American I see racism as being more dangerous in the 90s and the 2000s than it was in the 50s and 60s," said Smith. "It is structurally entrenched in the economic system and it's institutional."

For now, Mayor Verner says enforcement - dedicating the city's police and prosecutors to enforcing laws - will be key.

"I assure you that everyone in the city's criminal justice system - from our police officers on the line, all the way through our municipal court judges - understands the severity of hate crime," said the mayor.

Police say they are investigating last week's incident involving the noose as a hate crime.

The city formed a human rights commission at the mayor's direction earlier this year and it will begin operations once the commission is full with representatives from all the different council districts.

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