Helton: Expanded hate-crime ordinance is the future we need

Iowa City’s step forward to protect marginalized individuals should be adopted by higher levels of government.

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Helton: Expanded hate-crime ordinance is the future we need

City Hall is seen on July 17, 2019. (Emily Wangen/The Daily Iowan)

City Hall is seen on July 17, 2019. (Emily Wangen/The Daily Iowan)

Emily Wangen

City Hall is seen on July 17, 2019. (Emily Wangen/The Daily Iowan)

Emily Wangen

Emily Wangen

City Hall is seen on July 17, 2019. (Emily Wangen/The Daily Iowan)

Elijah Helton, Opinions Editor

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Iowa City has made the right decision to expand its hate crime ordinance. By including harassment and trespassing, our community moves a little bit closer to providing protection for all of our neighbors.

The commonsense protections make it easier for individuals who are subject to marginalization. By adding harassment and trespassing — two actions not currently included in the Iowa hate-crime law — the city is setting the example that can be followed by the rest of the state and federal government. The two actions make it easier for those who are individually attacked to seek justice.

It’s no secret that there’s more bias-related tension in the country. In Iowa City, reports of hate crimes have more than doubled from 2017 to 2018. Of course, those are just reports and not proof of some statistically significant wave of abhorrent behavior.

In America, we are all welcome, no matter who we are. However, we still need safeguards against efforts to dismantle the founding American ideal that all humans are born equal.”

But we’re not just a blip on the radar. According to the FBI, hate crimes have been on the rise for three years in a row. Even in liberal Iowa City, many marginalized people are still subject to incidents of bias, such in November when white-nationalist propaganda was distributed on parked cars.

Obviously, attacks on American values of inclusion and tolerance aren’t going away. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the increasingly overt racism coming from the president and his supporters. In America, we are all welcome, no matter who we are. However, we still need safeguards against efforts to dismantle the founding American ideal that all humans are born equal.

The Iowa City hate-crime ordinance is a small-scale step to the future we need, and Iowa should follow us and adopt this as a statewide measure. If we are serious about making our Hawkeye State a place where all people are safe and protected, this is how to get started.

We’re not at the end of history. We’re not going to just have a less bigoted country without immense effort on all fronts . We’re not going to heal our country all at once, but this initiative at the community level is the way we make America greater.

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