Ohio lawmakers are introducing new legislation to help tackle the rise of hate crimes in the state.
Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus) and Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) revealed Tuesday a bill that would create a Hate Crimes Bureau within the Attorney General’s office.
The bureau would be responsible for conducting independent investigations and the Attorney General would create a database based on credible reports.
The bureau would also offer resources to assist local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
“We have to send a clear message that in Ohio, there is no place for hate,” Miller said in a statement. “No one should live in fear simply for who they are.”
The legislation would also redefine Ohio’s definition of a hate crime. The state’s current “ethnic intimidation” law includes crimes committed that are motivated by the victim’s race, color, religion or national origin.
The bill would match Ohio’s definition of a hate crime to the federal definition, which also includes crimes that are motivated by the prejudice of the person’s sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability.
Data from the Anti-Defamation League shows that anti-Semitic incidents in Ohio rose to a 40-year high in 2020.
According to the Pew Research Centers, four in ten Black and Asian Americans say they have experienced some sort of discrimination since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the number of hateful incidents continues to rise, Ohio has the opportunity to lead,” Weinstein said in a statement. “We can send a strong message of solidarity to at-risk communities by focusing resources not only on deterrence but prosecution of hate crimes.”