By A.J. Etherington
The Courier 

US DOJ Hate Crimes Forum Planned

 

January 20, 2021



The US Department of Justice will host a digital “hate crime forum” for residents of Valley County and surrounding areas on Jan. 28. The platform will present perspectives from Montana residents on their own experiences with hate crimes as well as a panel of federal, state and local law enforcement on how federal law defines hate crimes and how such crimes are treated and investigated.

Glasgow Mayor Becky Erickson told the Courier that the forum was the idea of the US DOJ and that they make the offer to any Montana town. She pointed out that successful forums in Missoula, Bozeman and Billings had been well attended and insightful for many. “They made the offer,” said Mayor Erickson about the DOJ, “and I thought I would be remiss to not take it.”

The panel will begin at 5:30 p.m. and go through 8:30 p.m. on an online forum. It opens with a community panel of presenters from Native American communities such as Meshayla Cox of the Montana Racial Equity Project, Angeline Cheek who works for the Fort Peck Tribal Court and the Montana American Civil Liberties Union and Catherine Bear a Poplar High School student.


The panels will discuss racial bias, culture, heritage, and experiences with hate crimes/discrimination. Specifically, the discussion will focus on the effects to minority communities from hate crimes both locally and nationally. It will also discuss the relationship between law enforcement and the Native American community in northeast Montana. There will also be an opportunity for the panelists to respond to questions.


The second panel will consist of representatives from the law enforcement community to include Assistant US Attorney Brendan McCarthy, FBI Agent Steven Hymas, Glasgow City Attorney Anna Sullivan, Sheriff Tom Boyer and Assistant Glasgow Police Chief Tyler Edwards.

The law enforcement panel will focus their discussion on enforcement of hate crimes like how to report a hate crime, what the process includes—such as testimony, victim protection, who will investigate the crime and how local and federal law enforcement cooperate during the investigation. There will also be an opportunity for questions from the public.

The final segment of the forum will feature resources from around the state to assist victims of hate crimes and discrimination. Those resources include the Montana Racial Equity Project and the US DOJ Community Relations Service. Questions will also be taken and answered during this portion of the forum as well.


Asked by the Courier what she hopes the community will gain from such a forum, Mayor Becky Erickson responded with the following written statement printed in whole: “I would like our community to take away from this educational forum an understanding of what a hate crime consists of what the laws are addressing hate crimes and bias incidents and why they happen in both large cities and rural areas.

“Hate crimes are committed with the intent not only of sending a message to the targeted victim, but also to the community as a whole.

“Glasgow is not a hateful community, but I support the offer for education and public awareness on these issues.

“Thank you to the Dept. of Justice for organizing and sponsoring this virtual forum.”

To access the forum, participants can scan the QR code in the hate crimes forum advertisement on page 3A, join by emailing [email protected] for the link or by Webex at meeting number 199 471 8985 use the password A5PmCRDgr53.

 

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