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Omaha City Council passes hate intimidation offense

Posted at 7:02 AM, Jun 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-09 19:16:34-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — For the last week and a half, rallies have sent the message that Omaha is no place for hate. Now, the Omaha City Council has approved a hate intimidation ordinance.

if a person is committing a crime and is doing so because of the victim's race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender identity…among other things, they'll be charged with a separate crime.

At today’s city council meeting, Meghan Witty said there's too much divisiveness and people need to know they can feel safe.

"I also teach students of color," she said. “I hear every day, the consequences of ignorance and inaction. So this is a small step that can help all of us in myriad ways that can be better in our community."

The state of Nebraska does have a hate crime enhancement but now this will apply to Omaha ordinances.

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert submitted the request. Council members said Omaha is one of a few cities that didn’t have a hate intimidation ordinance in place already.

"I think it's an appropriate time to send a message that this city is not going to tolerate that,” said council member Ben Gray

Some who support the ordinance said the city still has a lot of work to do.

“I’m more excited to see if we can move other things forward, things that actually take some funds away from the police and move it towards other safety mechanisms for the community," said community member Phil Kolbo.

The ordinance will go into effect in 15 days. If someone is convicted of a crime as well as the hate intimidation ordinance, both charges will be considered for sentencing.

A similar ordinance was recently proposed in Lincoln, Nebraska by Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird.

You can read the full ordinance below: