Civil rights, law enforcement groups urge lawmaker to hear hate crimes bill - Florida Politics

Civil rights, law enforcement groups urge lawmaker to hear hate crimes bill

A coalition of law enforcement and civil rights groups are determined to have the Florida Legislature approve (or at least consider) a bill next year to expand and strengthen Florida’s current hate-crime laws.

Calling themselves the Florida Hate Crime Coalition, the group penned a letter and launched an online petition drive to compel Ocoee Democratic state Sen. Randolph Bracy, the Chairman of the Criminal Justice Committee, to add to the agenda a bill (SB 55), sponsored by Palm Beach Democratic state Sen. Kevin Radar.

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In urging the chair to give the bill a hearing, the letter explains:

“ … [i]n our State, a hate crime cannot be charged if a victim is targeted for their physical disability, gender or gender identity. Furthermore, the hate crime law does not cover “mixed-motive” hate crimes …. SB 588 would fix these critical gaps in the hate crime law by:

“(1) expanding its definition of disability to cover physical disabilities;

“(2) adding the categories of gender and gender identity; and

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“(3) covering mixed-motive hate crimes.”

Bracy’s office did not return a call for comment.

In addition to the Criminal Justice Committee, the bill has also been referred to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice, Appropriations, and Rules committees.

The Florida Hate Crime Coalition includes Jewish and LGBT rights organizations, headed by the Anti-Defamation League, and includes the police departments of Miami-Dade and St. Petersburg.

The complete list of groups in the FHCC:

Anti-Defamation League
Alpert Jewish Family & Children’s Service
American Jewish Committee
Dave Aronberg, Palm Beach County State Attorney
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office
Chief John Brooks, Sunrise Police Department
Broward County Chiefs of Police Association (BCCPA)
COSMOS (Coalition of South Florida Muslim Organizations)
Disability Independence Group, Inc.
Disability Solutions for Independent Living
EMGage USA
Equality Florida
Katherine Fernandez-Rundle, Miami-Dade County State Attorney
Florida Armenians
Florida Association for the Deaf
Florida Atlantic University — Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education
Florida Council for the Blind
Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of FL
Interfaith Council of Central Florida (ICCF)
Sheriff Scott Israel, Broward County Sheriff’s Office
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation
Jewish Family Services of Orlando
Jewish Women’s Foundation of the Greater Palm Beaches (JWF)
JFCS of Southwest Florida
MCCJ
Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD)
John W. Mina, Chief of Police, Orlando Police Department
National Council of Jewish Women Florida
Palm Beach County Board of Rabbis
PFLAG Gainesville
The Pride Center at Equality Park
Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami
Chief Vincent C. Robinson, Jennings Police Department, Jennings, Florida
Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services, Inc.
SALDEF — Sikh American Legal Defense Fund
Satellite Beach Police Department
Sikh Society of Central Florida
St. Petersburg Police Department
United Sikhs
Unity Coalition|Coalición Unida
Women’s Foundation of Palm Beach County

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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